Thursday, May 31, 2012

Homecoming and asymmetry

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Matt travels a lot for work. Most weeks (and by that I mean nearly every week), he's off to some random part of the country for two to four days. For the past nine or ten months, I've pretty much lived alone during the week, though he's almost always around on the weekends.

Until now.

Matt quit his job, effective next week, and he just got back from his last-ever trip with this company last night. I've gotta admit, it's pretty exciting to know that he'll be home every night. Woot woot :)



cardi: The Limited
t-shirt: Old Navy
skirt: New York & Company
heels, necklace: thrifted
bangle: secondhand

I was really excited to be able to style this cardigan for spring. Like many offices, mine is absolutely freezing. So wearing a light sweater when it's above 80 degrees out isn't actually all that crazy.

This bangle was one of many sent to me by Loren. Wanna know something weird? They only fit my left arm. My right wrist is just a smidge too big for them to squeeze on. Actually, my right foot is nearly half a size larger than my left, now that I think about it. Guess I'm just not symmetrical.

By the way. Today is your LAST DAY to enter my eShakti giveaway, which closes at midnight! So click on over and get yourself entered. On the other hand, you have until tomorrow to link up to Bloggers Take the Town, but why wait? Go ahead and link up now ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An entirely pre-loved outfit

Phew. Nothing like jumping back into the work week full force after four of the best days I've had in a long while. Friday through Monday this past week were just incredible, so waking up and going to work on Tuesday was a little bit of a struggle, naturally. And it didn't help that Tuesday was one of the busiest work days I've had since starting this new job. Still, I'm not complaining...just kind of trying to catch up with myself, haha.



blouse: secondhand
skinnies, heels: thrifted
earrings, necklace: InPink
bracelets: gifted and don't remember

I wore this to the Aveda Earth Jam Fashion Show earlier this month. In retrospect, it's kind of funny that I wore an entirely pre-loved outfit to a fashion show, but I think I looked pretty appropriate, if I do say so myself. A lot of the girls were wearing short black dresses and big, Jeffrey Campbell-esque colorblock heels. I suppose that was in keeping with the "colorful" theme of the event. As for me, I'm quite happy with this outfit.

In other news, don't forget the other things going on here at Verbal Mélange. You still have until tomorrow at midnight to enter the totally rad eShakti giveaway. And you have until Friday to link up to the awesome Bloggers Take the Town, hosted by Sydney and yours truly. What are you waiting for? Get to clicking :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bloggers Take the Town!

It's the last Monday of the month, folks, so you know what that means...It's time to link up to Bloggers Take the Town! And this month, we're leaving the linky tool open until Friday, so if you don't have a going-out outfit posted yet, you have all week to post it and link up :)

Alright, I'm off to the pool and later, to go air conditioner shopping. Happy Memorial Day, all!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Long weekend

Hello there! Just popping in for a couple quick photos and some reminders. First, don't forget that Bloggers Take the Town is tomorrow! And this month, Sydney and I are leaving the link-up open until Friday. So you have all week to link your blog up.


On the other hand, time is running out for you to enter my eShakti giveaway. That stays open until May 31 at midnight, so click over and get yourself entered!



dress: H&M
bracelets: secondhand

I like this outfit for a couple of reasons, but I didn't have time to do a full-on outfit shoot when I wore this last night. Matt and I went out to the bar for his birthday libations, and I was getting ready in a hurry so I snapped a few quick pics on my phone. These bracelets were part of a surprise package from my bloggy friend Loren. There were a lot of great items in there, but I can't wait to showcase them here :) Thanks, Loren!

I also liked this outfit because for the first time in my life, I legitimately rocked a fauxhawk. It's one of those weird style things that I have always wanted to try, for as long as I can remember. I really love how it looked with this button-up shirtdress-type thing. I can't wait to try this look again!

Oh, and because I can't get enough of this video of what might be the sweetest proposal ever. Go ahead, watch it. If you don't have a smile on your face by the end of the clip, you probably have no soul. I just watched it again, and I'm pretty sure my heart just skipped a beat.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A self-conscious blogger's worst nightmare

You guys, it's finally happened. Someone caught me while I was taking outfit photos. Horror of horrors. I was shooting outside in my backyard just now, and my hippie neighbor was outside watering her garden. And she stared. And then she said hello. I felt like I needed to explain myself — I'm not vain, I have a personal style blog, that's why I'm taking photos of myself in the backyard before work. But then I figured, "I have a fashion blog" probably doesn't make me any less vain. So I didn't say anything.




blouse: secondhand
jeans: RVCA
shoes: Buckle
necklace: gifted

This outfit has actually been sitting in my backlog for quite some time. It's from Matt's and my four-year anniversary date night earlier this month. We went ice skating and got dinner at The Melting Pot. Gosh, I love that boy. He's pretty special. His birthday's tomorrow...can't wait to tell you guys about his birthday surprises!

We don't have any real plans for Memorial Day yet...mostly just catching up and enjoying the extra day off, I think. What about you guys?

Oh, and before you go start your weekend, don't forget to enter my giveaway. And Monday is Bloggers Take the Town. We'll be leaving the link-up open all week, so if your going-out outfits aren't ready by Monday, no worries. You have time :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Giveaway love

Have I ever mentioned how awesome you guys are? I have? Well, I'll say it again. Whenever I blog about having a bad day, I get a slew of comments with kind words and hopeful thoughts, and it never fails to cheer me up. So when eShakti asked if I wanted to do a giveaway, the answer was a resounding YES! So this is for you all, loyal readers. Thanks for rocking my socks.

eShakti giveaway pics

This giveaway is for one item of your choice from the amazing eShakti. You can even choose a custom-sized/styled product. Custom sizing allows you to enter all of your measurements for a custom-made item that is perfectly tailored to fit you like a glove. Or, you know, a dress. Whatevs.

Mandatory to enter:
- Visit eShakti and pick out which item that you'd get if you won. (Personally, I'm drooling over everything pictured above.)
- Comment below and tell me which item you'd pick. Make sure you leave your email address in the comment. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

For extra entries:
- Like eShakti's Facebook page
- Like Verbal Mélange's Facebook page
- Follow eShakti on Pinterest
- Follow me on Pinterest
- Follow eShakti on Twitter
- Follow me on Twitter

That's a total of seven possible entries! And with the great quality of eShakti's clothes, this is a giveaway you definitely want to enter as many times as possible ;) Just make sure you enter before midnight on May 31. Winner will be announced on June 1! Good luck!

Disclaimer: I was not paid, perked or compensated for hosting this giveaway. I just love y'all and I love eShakti and I wanted to do something nice :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kitty woes

You guys, this morning I was so mad at Spazzcat that I wanted to just throw her out the window and let her go feral in the wild. When I woke up, I discovered that she had gotten into Matt's closet...the one we try to keep her out of because my bridesmaid dresses for this summer are in it. And sure enough, she found one of my bridesmaid dresses. Tore it off the hanger. And ripped into it with what looks like both teeth and claws. The thing is pretty much unwearable, at least if I want to avoid looking like a homeless person at my own sister's wedding.

Thankfully, Abby's dress is the $25 one from Target, not the $100 one from David's Bridal. I ordered a replacement online, but they only have petite sizes left online so I had to order two dresses in the next two sizes up...I'll just return whichever one fits less. I also have my mom out hunting through the Targets near her house. Good thing she has the day off work.

On the bright side, I can skip my coffee this morning. Nothing wakes you up like the adrenaline rush of pure fury. I may have punched a door. Now the cat's just sitting there, staring at me, probably confused about why I wouldn't let her in the room with me as I was getting ready this morning like I usually do. Sigh. It's a good thing she's cute...that makes it so much easier to forgive her for just being, well, a cat.

Okay. Vent over. Moving on.




shirt: JCPenney
jeans: RVCA
heels: thrifted
necklace: gifted

I got this shirt during my "OMG I got my job start date I need to bulk up my professional wardrobe" shopping spree. JCPenney really impressed me with its Worthington line (I think this shirt is from that line...a few of the other things I bought were). Actually, the store impressed me in general. I hadn't been there in years. The overhaul is pretty nice. Anyway, I can't quite decide what to call this's vaguely poncho-esque, but the sides are sewn shut for modesty/convenience. It's quite comfy.

Oh and hey. Don't forget that Bloggers Take the Town is back this Monday. This time, we'll be leaving the link-up open for longer than usual, so get your weekend/going-out outfit photos ready!

Monday, May 21, 2012

More weekend, please

Yet again, the weekend is over far too soon. And it was a good one too, full of sun and pools and shopping. Matt and I even made it down to the climbing wall and got a few routes in. I was pretty behind my game, though. It's been a while since I've been out. And we had dinner with Matt's family Sunday night. That's always fun :)

But perhaps the highlight of the weekend was finally getting a new mattress! The one we've been sleeping on is actually almost 20 years old. We upgraded to a queen from a full, too. I know it's only six inches bigger, but it makes a heck of a difference! I slept better last night than I have in ages.



shirt: secondhand
vest: New York & Company
capris: Old Navy
shoes: Target
necklace: The Limited

I don't know why, but I tend to wear this shirt with vests. Maybe it's the crazy-high shoulders on it. I always think it's cute, but then I chicken out at the last second and cover it up. Hm.

You know, I really want to go crawl back into our new bed right now. Getting up for work this morning was definitely more painstaking than usual...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Food Fridays: Spaghetti Carbonara with chicken and asparagus

This is by far one of my favorite quick-dinners, because I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand, and it's easy, and it's delicious. Once again, I've adapted a Rachael Ray recipe to include fewer of her crazy ingredients. And I added chicken and veggies to make this a more filling meal.


Ingredients (makes enough for four):
- 1/3 package of bacon
- 1/2 pound chicken breast, diced
- garlic powder
- 16-oz box of spaghetti or linguine
- about 4-6 stalks of asparagus
- olive oil (I like to use an arbequina oil, but extra virgin works too)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine, cooking sherry or chicken stock
- 2 large egg yolks (keep the whites for omelets!)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- red pepper flakes (optional)

Start with a large stock pot of water. Set it over high heat and bring it up to a hard boil. While the water's heating, cook the bacon in the biggest skillet you have until it's good and crispy. When it's done, set the bacon on paper towels to drain, and drain out most of the bacon grease. Leave about a tablespoon or so. Add the diced chicken to the pan, season with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and cook through. When it's done, remove the chicken from the pan and onto a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Return the skillet to the oven and add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Add a little olive oil if the pan needs it.

By now your water should be boiling. Add a small palmful of salt, then add the noodles. While those are cooking, crumble the bacon you set aside and add it and the chicken pieces back to the skillet with the garlic and pepper flakes. Add the wine/sherry/chicken stock and let it reduce by half, which should take about a minute or two over medium-high heat.

Drop the asparagus into the pasta water and let cook for about 2-3 minutes. Remove it, chop it into pieces about an inch long, and add to the skillet with everything else. (Note: Frozen peas also work well for this. Just let them thaw a little first, then boil for a few minutes with the pasta then add to the skillet to finish cooking.)

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. While you're whisking, add a small ladle-full (about 1/4 cup or so) of the boiling pasta water.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet. Remove from heat. Drizzle the egg mixture over everything, then add the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat for about two minutes to let the pasta soak up all the sauce. (I usually like to pour everything into the big stock pot to toss it, but if you can manage in your skillet that works too.) Serve with extra cheese and sprinkle with some chopped parsley, if you like.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Giveaway winner chosen!

Ladies and...well, mostly ladies (eh, I know my audience, haha)...we have a winner! Cue the trumpet fanfare. Congrats to...


Loren of The Inclined Plane! (Good thing I already have your email address, otherwise I'd have to select again, haha.) Check your inbox for communications from PrintRunner and/or myself on how to submit your business card design and get your prize.

To everyone else...I am considering hosting another PrintRunner giveaway next month, for stickers instead of business cards. But turnout was disappointing for this giveaway, so I'm on the fence. So I'm asking you...If I hosted a PrintRunner giveaway for stickers (design of your choosing), would you enter? Thanks :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Well, not much time for chit-chat this morning. I just spent the last 15 minutes trying to fix my computer, instead of writing this post. It wouldn't connect to the internet, then it wouldn't shut down properly. But everything seems to be working now. Phew!





This jacket? Wound up not wearing it at all that day. Oops :) Oh and these heels? Bought them to wear in my sister's wedding in July. LOVE. Apparently they're from Fergie's line but I got them at DSW for $30. Epic score.

When I first saw Lady Gaga's "Marry the Night" video, part of the intro left me a little dubious. See, she talked about how mint was supposed to be a big trend come spring of 2012. And all I could think was, "I just don't know if I can get on board with this one."

Boy, was I wrong.

Turns out, I love this color on me. My nails have been mint-colored for weeks. And when Sydney sent me a box of clothes with this shirt in it, I was thrilled.

What about you? Has there ever been a trend that you initially wrote off, only to fall in love with later?

Also, don't forget to enter my today! It ends tonight, so the clock's a-tickin'! Winner announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I'm still having the hardest time getting adjusted to a set routine or schedule with the new job. See, I'm a girl of planning, of scheduling, of consistency. Sure, I like a bit of spontaneity now and then (who doesn't?) but for the most part, I like to plan. And after three and a half weeks, I still haven't quite gotten into a swing when it comes to daily tasks like working out, blogging, showering, etc.

So my life still feels a bit hectic. I haven't gone to the gym in more than a month (sadface). For a while I was blogging at night, but I really prefer the whimsicality that my morning posts have. At night, my brain is on overdrive and I think too much about what to say. So now I'm trying to get up earlier, which is hard because I am the most un-morning person ever. This morning, I stood in front of my closet for ages because I just couldn't make my brain work hard enough to pick out an outfit. What I finally decided on—a pinstriped pink Oxford with my gray pencil skirt and black heels—still feels a bit off to me, but I'm so tired I frankly don't care. That's why I have a backlog of outfit photos, right?



blouse, skirt: thrifted
heels: Franco Sarto via Marshall's
necklace, earrings: InPink
bracelet: H&M
hair flower: Target

I don't know what I'm doing in that last photo. I guess trying to show off both my nail color and jewelry?

I have a very real love/hate relationship with this skirt. On one hand, it's cute and pink plaid and has a great shape. On the other hand, it's an extra small and squeezing my butt/thighs into it is usually a battle. I tried to have my grandma sew in a zipper to make the getting-on process easier (cause once it's on, it feels fine), but she couldn't. Alas. At least this shirt is a bit easier to deal with. And just as cute.

Also, don't forget that my giveaway ends tomorrow! Enter now while there's still time.

Monday, May 14, 2012


For some reason, I am having the hardest time waking up this morning. Probably because I pretty much owned my to-do list this weekend. Visit with my grandma, work in the garden, clean house, laundry, visit Matt's mom, edit blog photos, work on my friend's wedding invitation...I did it all AND managed to sleep in a bit both days too ;) No wonder I'm so pooped.




shirt, heels: thrifted
blazer: Target
skirt: The Limited
necklace, earrings: InPink

It's kind of funny, but one of the more difficult things about getting acclimated to my new job (besides learning about all the intricate policy that my agency covers, of course) is figuring out how to dress more professionally. At the magazine, pretty much anything went; I wore my pink skinnies to work on a Tuesday and nobody batted an eye. Now, I have to dress a little more conservatively.

I think this outfit was a pretty good one, in terms of balancing my style with a conservative dress code. Even when I took the blazer off for a bit, this T-shirt was still a little dressy, thanks to the details on the arms. Or if not dressy, it's at least not just a plain T-shirt. Eh. I call this a success.

(Psst. Don't forget to enter my giveaway this week! It closes on Wednesday, so time's running out!)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Food Fridays: Ten-pound lasagna

Monday night, I made lasagna at the suggestion of my new work friend. I usually shy away from lasagna because mine always kind of falls apart when you cut it up, but this time I really nailed it, if I do say so myself. When it comes to why I didn't write a post Monday night for Tuesday morning, I blame this dish entirely. (Apologies for the poor Instagram photo. Like so many of the recipes I make, I didn't think to do blog pics until after it was half eaten.)

I call this my ten-pound lasagna because there's just so much stuff in it. Including a pound and a half of cheese. Yum.


This is one of those recipes that's less of a recipe, and more of a "let's just throw some stuff together." So here's what I used:

- 1 box of lasagna noodles
- 1 lb ground beef
- 16-oz jar of red spaghetti sauce (I used a garlic-flavored one)
- 12-oz jar of Alfredo sauce (I actually didn't quite use the whole thing)
- 8-oz can of plain, straight-up tomato sauce
- tub of ricotta cheese (I can't remember what size, but I'm guessing around 8-10 oz)
- 8-oz tub of cottage cheese
- 1.5 bags (16 oz each) of mozzarella cheese
- asiago cheese to taste (I used probably about four ounces)

So first of course is cooking your noodles according to package directions and browning the ground beef in a pan. I used a bit of onion powder, salt and pepper to season the beef. While those are cooking, mix the small can of plain tomato sauce with the ricotta cheese. (That makes it easier to spread later.) When the noodles are done, drain them and set aside. When the beef is done, mix in about three-quarters of the 16-oz jar of spaghetti sauce.

Grease a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and preheat your oven to 375. Pour a little of the reserved tomato sauce (from the big jar) into the bottom of the baking pan and sloosh (yes, sloosh) it around to cover a thin layer over the bottom. Then lay down a layer of noodles. I was able to get four noodles laying side-by-side, overlapping slightly, in my pan. For the layering of the actual ingredients, go hog wild. I like to do one cheese and one sauce per layer. So one layer had meat sauce and mozzarella, the next had the tomato-sauce-ricotta mixture, the next had Alfredo sauce and cottage cheese, etc. Just make sure you save some of the mozzarella, asiago and meat sauce for the very top, non-noodle-covered layer. I suggest putting the sauce down first, then the cheese on top. After you put down your last noodle layer, top with more meat sauce, tons of mozzarella and a sprinkling of asiago.

If you're cooking it right away, cover the pan with foil, making sure it doesn't sag in the middle and touch the cheese. Bake this way for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 more. Next comes THE HARDEST PART. You have to let that delicious pile of cheesy, saucy, noodley heart-attack-in-a-pan cool for another 15-20 minutes. This is what I never did before, and this is why my lasagna ALWAYS fell apart. Trust me. It's worth it.

If you're making this ahead of time for cooking later in the week, cover the top tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. (But if you go for three, I won't tell.) Don't freeze it, because the ricotta gets all gross. And make sure you bring it up to room temp a bit before you bake it, or your lasagna will be all cold and non-melty in the middle. Sad.

So there you have it! A genuine food-coma inducing masterpiece. And because I just have to plug this...Don't forget to enter my giveaway this weekend :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Aveda's Earth Jam Fashion Show

Phew. I'm back!

And, as promised, I have some coverage of Aveda's Earth Jam Fashion Show that took place on Tuesday night. This annual show benefits Central Ohio Sierra Club's Clean Water Campaign, raising money for local programs through ticket sales and a live and silent auction. (I entered a raffle to win a GIANT basket of OPI nail polish and other mani/pedi goodies. Fingers crossed!)

Anyway, the main event was a fashion show featuring models styled by students at the Aveda Institute here in Columbus. The show wrapped up with models styled by the folks at Nurtur the Salon, the Aveda salon that I've been frequenting for a couple of years now.

1 crowd

Nurtur was kind enough to give me a press pass that gave me access to the seating area by the stage, which was great for watching but not so awesome for a non-professional photographer like me. So advance apologies for the quality of these photos. And with the video at the bottom, stick through the first bit. The outfits and hair get a little easier to see after a bit :)

3 wigs

Overall, I thought the show was pretty cool. The theme was Color ReVision and featured Aveda's new Full Spectrum hair color line. Just check out these vivid hues:












Well, there you have it! Any favorite looks?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bad blogger

I know, I know, you don't have to tell me. I'm a terrible blogger this week. For what they're worth, here are my excuses: I didn't write a post Monday night for Tuesday morning because I was too busy being in a food coma of deliciousness that is also known as my five ten pound lasagna (recipe to come, don't worry) and appreciating a bit of down time with Matt, who left for a week in Virginia this morning :( And I didn't write a post tonight for Wednesday morning because between the hours of 8 am and 10 pm today, I was home for a total of about 15 minutes.

As I write this, I am literally shoving Wendy's in my face like someone who hasn't eaten in 10 hours...probably because I am someone who hasn't eaten in 10 hours. But I was gone this evening for a good cause: Aveda's Earth Jam Fashion Show, benefitting the Sierra Club of Ohio. And I promise, promise, promise that tonight I will edit all the photos and video and write a spectacular post about it and you will all forgive me for slacking this week. And if that's not enough to convince you to forgive me, here's a sad/tired/hungry photo of me by way of apology:



Anyway, in the meantime you can enter my giveaway. Hey, it's something.

Monday, May 7, 2012

PrintRunner giveaway!

Well, it's been a while since I've been able to do a giveaway, so I was super excited to hear from PrintRunner, a website with tons of different things you can print online, like stickers, post cards, calendars, flyers and more. You can also use PrintRunner to print business cards for, say, your blog, Etsy shop, small business or whatever else you can think of. Which is what I'm teaming up with PrintRunner to give away today!


One winner will receive 250 standard size (two by three-and-a-half inches) business cards. Your cards can be standard 4/4 color on both sides, and will be printed on 14 pt. paper with UV coating on both sides. You will not get a proof or rounded corners on the cards.

Other technical stuff:
For hosting this giveaway, I will also receive a set of business cards as described above. This giveaway is open only to U.S. residents age 18 and up only. (Sorry international friends...I'll get a giveaway going for you guys soon!)

How to enter:
This one's easy. Just comment on this post with your email address (so I and PrintRunner can get in touch with you if you win). If you don't provide an email address, you will not be eligible to win.

You can do any of the below to get extra entries (one entry each). Just make sure you leave a separate comment for each one.
- Follow Verbal Mélange via RSS
- Follow Verbal Mélange via Bloglovin
- Like PrintRunner on Facebook
- Like Verbal Mélange on Facebook
- Follow PrintRunner on Twitter
- Follow me on Twitter
- Follow me on Pinterest

This giveaway is open until Wednesday, May 16 at midnight. So enter now!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fiscal Fridays: Wallet Lockdown

Fiscal Fridays two weeks in a row! You guys, it's like I'm an actual, organized, planning person. But first, a little housekeeping. I finally got around to redesigning my sidebar button to match the overall blog redesign. So if you currently have my button in your blog sidebar, could you please use the code below to update it? The button there is 200 pixels wide. Let me know if you need a different size, and I'll email it to you!

Okay, down to business. Because of the pay schedule at the new job, I'll be going the entire month of May without a paycheck. So I'm officially stepping out of the Financial Diet, and replacing it with a full-out WALLET LOCKDOWN. (For best results, say the previous phrase out loud with the WWE announcer voice.)


Of course, bills must still be paid, and groceries bought. But other than the absolute essentials, I am going to try really, really hard to not buy anything this month. At all. I was off to a good start yesterday when I went to Target and was literally swooning over some shoes. Which I could totally wear like, every day. And they were only $30. And then I made the fatal mistake of trying them on and oh my God they fit like Cinderella's shoes and theywerefreakingperfect. And I put them back on the shelf. And cried a little. On the inside.

But then I thought about June and July, when I'll have a revamped budget to match my new pay rate. And I thought about the fact that for the first time ever (and I do mean EVER), I will have an actual clothes budget. Every month. And I felt a little better.

Plus, I have all these new clothes from Allory and Sydney, so with any luck, I won't feel like I need to go shopping at all this month :)