Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aaaaand once again, I have to say...brb.

I'm really annoyed at how frequently these mini-hiatuses are popping up. But ever since I did a photo shoot of my friends' daughter, the requests have been coming in like mad from family and friends. Baby photos, family photos, engagement photos, maternity and newborn shoots...I'm starting to really branch out my photography from a little hobby to a potential part-time side gig. When a friend emailed me today to ask if I could do her and her fiancé's engagement photos in October, I looked at my calendar and was stunned to tell her I only had two days available!

So what with several photo shoots, editing said photos and working on my woefully neglected wedding crafts, I am going to scale back temporarily from 2-3 posts a week to probably just one. I thought about just shuttering this ol' thing altogether, but honestly, I don't want to miss out on the little community and bloggy friends I've made. Plus, the self-obsessed side of me wants to hang on until at least after the wedding...I'm sure I'll want to post nonstop about the big day after it's over and everyone I know IRL is sick of hearing about it ;)

TL;DR - You might be seeing less of me in the next few weeks, but I'm not going anywhere yet!

Also, I just want to take a second to send some much-deserved gratitude to Ally, without whose generosity my interest in photography would never have brought me to this point. Allycat, you are a wonderful friend and I owe you, big-time :)

Finally, if anyone's interested in checking out the photo shoots I've done recently, you can see them all over here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: September

So as I've said before, my spending has been a wee bit...shall we say, extravagant, these last few months. I blame wedding planning; after you start shelling out hundreds or a thousand dollars at a time for things like deposits and wedding dresses, a few $30 clothing or makeup purchases seem like nothing at all. But they add up, and when they're added to all those wedding purchases, well...it's bad. So this month, I tried really hard to not buy any clothes. I *almost* made it.


Merona maxi skirt via Target. I love my gray one SO MUCH that I had a complete moment of weakness while picking up a friend's bridal shower gift one weekend. I may have accidentally purchased the juniors version, but it fits so okay then? | $17.99 {exact?}

But that's it! One item! I'm debating whether to continue my shopping ban into October, but truth be told, I could really use some new boots. A pair of winter boots — something waterproof and lined for those wet, cold waits at the bus stop when it gets too cold to scooter to work — and a pair of stylish cognac boots to replace the pair I wore through last winter. The latter could probably wait until November; I have a pair of crappy galoshes and thick socks to tide me until the real snow comes. But if I find a pair of great cognac boots on sale in October, well, I'm not making any promises!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I do what I want


sweater dress: secondhand (H&M)
earrings: gifted (Lia Sophia)
shoes: Target

Can you call this a sweater dress? I mean, I'm going to anyway because it's my blog and I do what I want but I'm not 100% convinced that I'm right. Whatever it is, it's cute and comfy and cost me $4 at my friend's garage sale. And that's all that really matters, yeah?

Speaking of absolutely nothing because I have a terribly short attention span and am horrible at transitions...

So I think I mentioned that I had a fitness coaching meeting recently. A friend-of-a-friend is a personal trainer, and she gave me some tips on how to achieve my personal fitness goals. It was insanely motivating, and her ideas were spot-on in terms of what will help me make a plan and stick to it. I've been getting up half an hour earlier on weekdays to squeeze in some yoga, because I never manage to do it before bed, and I've been getting a lot better and making time for evening workouts. Yesterday was my first real "blow it off" day, as the class I wanted to go to got cancelled and an Ikea order I placed was delivered. It's like the universe WANTED me to spend my evening drinking bourbon-spiked cider and building a few chairs and a closet. (On that note, I will have a home-decor update soon; the living room is *nearly* finished, finally!)

Tonight might be a little rough for me as well, because I scheduled a massage therapy session for right after work (I get a lot of wrist pain from my job and freelance schedule), and working out right after all my muscles got worked on seems counterproductive. I might just do a longer, slightly more intense yoga sesh instead of hitting the climbing gym. Actually, that sounds really pleasant. I have a couple hour-long yoga vids I've been meaning to try.

(And mom, if you're reading this, my "blow it off" day TOTALLY doesn't count for our wager. If anything, I should get seven freebie days, since you started your workout regimen a week after I started mine :P I've been brainstorming where I'd like you to take me to dinner when you lose...! Haha.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Five fall faves

I recently posted some of my favorite things about fall, so forgive me if this feels a bit redundant. But I thought I'd go into some more detail about a few of the things that make cooler weather less sucky, at least in my world :)

Fall favorites

Obviously, the very first thing that came to mind for me was warm, cozy sweaters and sweatshirts. Ones that are long enough to cover all your business and therefore be worn with leggings. I busted out my sweaters this weekend, but I'm still in the market for a nice cozy, casual sweatshirt like this one. Only not like this one because it's from J.Crew and it's $80.

I also really love dark, vampy nail colors. Not to be a hipster, but I was wearing black nail polish before it was cool. Okay, I had a little punk phase, but the bottom line is I've loved dark nails for the last 10 years and I'll probably never stop loving them.

Growing up in semi-rural areas and on big lots means that fall always brought bonfire weather. Oh man, the smell of smoke and gooey roasted marshmallows...heaven.

As for beverages, I shun the Pumpkin Spice Latte thing. I've never even had one. I'd rather just stick with my delicious, delicious chai tea lattes, please.

And finally, boots. Oh, boots. Boots are the greatest. These two right here? I need both, please.

I've been kind of overdoing it on the shopping lately, so I'm trying to put myself on a clothes-buying ban this month. I'm not doing terribly well, so I was pretty excited to discover Raise.com. Basically, it's a site where you can buy discounted gift cards to your favorite stores, or sell the ones you have but aren't gonna use. (Requisite disclaimer: I was not paid or perked for this post; the folks at Raise simply inspired me to write it.)

I signed up for a free Raise account, and it looks like the discounts vary by store. When I browsed, Macy's cards were selling for 12% less than their value, Target for nearly 4%, H&M for 10%, and TJ Maxx for a whopping 19%. I think I know how I'm going to stretch my clothing budget to the max next month!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Goal-setting and staying busy




blouse and cami: secondhand
capris: Target
sandals: BCBG via TJ Maxx
necklace, bracelet: Etsy

Photo-taking is weird. I am at a complete loss as to why the first photo is so crisp, but the third one is so grainy. They were taken at the same time, with the same settings, same focal points, everything. What's up with that? Any speculation?

I'll be honest; I'm racking my brain for something interesting to say about this outfit, but I've got nothing except that it was stupid-comfortable and I probably need more patterned and/or lace-edged camis in my life. Especially now that layering weather is here!


I've been thinking lately about goal-setting and keeping busy. As I said in my last post, winter's imminent arrival means I have to make a plan for things that will help stave off my SAD/winter depression. I've been brainstorming some home-improvement projects that, aside from helping me complete a 26-in-26 item, will also help keep me busy. And a busy Emma is much less likely to be a depressed Emma. Lethargy, man. It's my mortal enemy.

I'm also meeting with a trainer today, for the first time ever. I probably won't have the budget wiggle room to do regular personal training sessions, but a friend of a friend has her own personal training business, so I figured it would be worth my time/money to sit down for a little coaching session. We're going to talk about my goals and how I can best achieve them. I don't think my goals are all that difficult (increase flexibility, increase upper body strength without getting bulky linebacker shoulders, get a slimmer waist/flatter stomach)...my issue is that every time I come up with a new workout regimen, I inevitably stop doing it after just a week or two. It's really frustrating, and I'm not sure how to change that habit. How do you guys change habits/convince yourselves to stick with a workout plan?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Autumn is coming



shirt: secondhand
sleeveless button-down: New York & Company
khaki skinnies: Old Navy
shoes: Target
necklace: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse

I have very mixed feelings about autumn.

For the most part, I'm a summer girl. I love the heat (though not always the humidity). I love sun and golden skin and massive thunderstorms and ice cream and pools and beaches and breezy dresses and fireflies and sunsets after 9 p.m.

But autumn is kind of special, too. It brings crisp mornings and leaving the windows open all day and especially all night. It brings football and two of my favorite holidays, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Hot toddies are acceptable again and sweaters are so cozy. I've also felt for the last several years that fall can mark the end of a bad era. I like to take time in the fall to find everything that's been weighing me down over the last year and shed it to crunch underfoot with the leaves.


But autumn is so brief and temperamental in Ohio. It seems like you just blink and suddenly it's all shitty half-hearted snow and gross grey slush and feeling so cold that each inhale freezes your lungs. And because I have SAD, winter is especially difficult. Watching the sun set from my office window is heartbreaking. There are days when I feel like I'll never see the sun again.

Fortunately, it's early in the season. There's still time to enjoy cute boots and pumpkin-flavored everything before things really get tough. And I feel a little more optimistic than usual about winter this year. I joined a new climbing gym, and I'm going to go back to vitamin D therapy via tanning beds (with proper sunscreen on, of course). Plus I found a therapist I really like who I can return to if things get really out of hand, so that's a comfort.

How do you feel about autumn? Are you heralding its imminent arrival with three daily Starbucks PSL runs? Or are you already holed up in your hibernation nest, counting off the days until spring arrives again?

Monday, September 8, 2014

26 in 26 update: Local eats

I made a list of 26 things I want to do/see/make/experience in my 26th year. Read more on that here.

So one of the things I am really loving on my 26 in 26 is the commitment to try one new (to me) local bar or restaurant each month. Columbus has such an amazing local food scene, and in the four years since I moved here, I've tried an embarrassingly small percentage of what the city has to offer. Sure, I've hit up amazing places like Northstar Cafe, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, Dirty Frank's and the Blue Danube more than I care to admit. But in the interest of documenting only new experiences (and to avoid boring you guys with the same old over and over), here's what I've tasted so far:

The Pearl.
Columbus-ites will recognize this as one of Cameron Mitchell's newest endeavors. Nestled in the south end of the Short North, this seafood restaurant-slash-oyster bar has a wonderfully hipster aesthetic that is trendy without being overpowering or distracting.

I chose this for my birthday dinner, and was definitely not disappointed. Matt and I got drinks (the Kentucky Mule was phenom and served in the traditional copper mug, of course) and appetizers (jalapeńo corn spoon bread for Matt and I honestly don't remember what I had...the spinach salad maybe?) to start, then split the Shellfish Tower (pictured). That tower was...well, a tower. It was sooo much food--a dozen each of raw oysters and broiled clams, half a pound of chilled peel-and-eat shrimp and chilled crab meat. It. Was. Incredible.

This place opened up in the alley next to my building downtown, and I knew the second I saw the tagline — burgers. steaks. bourbon. — that I'd have to try it. Probably more than once. On my first visit, I had the mac & cheese burger and garlic fries, because I'm basically unable to resist mac & cheese. I had the actual dish itself, sans burger, on a return visit. I actually think I got a bad batch on that second time; the cheese was kind of clumpy, like the sauce had boiled when it wasn't supposed to. But the mac on that first burger was spot-on!

I also tried the bourbon, because duh. They infuse their own bourbon in-house, and they have more than a dozen flavors. I tried the vanilla-fig one, which was superb, and it's my goal to get through all of them. Even the tobacco one, which I've been told is actually quite good.

Little Rock/Jailhouse : ROCK.
My friend Kathryn insisted that the hot dogs served up at Paddy Wagon, the food truck that partners with Little Rock bar in Italian Village, were better than the aforementioned Dirty Franks. Now, anyone who knows me knows that dem's fightin' words, so I took her to task. The hot dogs were quite good, but smaller than Dirty Frank's and slightly more expensive. Still, my Lunch on the LAWn dog (crushed kettle chips, baked beans and cheddar, plus potato salad that I chose to get on the side because I'm picky) and loaded baked potato pierogi were very, very tasty. I don't remember the name of the drink Little Rock served up — I think it had "Elvis" in it — but it was, yet again, a Kentucky Mule. And it was delish.

Cray Eatery & Drinkery.
Kate suggested this place when I insisted she and Chasity and I meet up for the first time in way too long. She warned me that I'd hate the website (she was right...Papyrus font? Seriously??) but that the menu looked good. I saw "chicken and waffle slider" and was immediately on board. I was totally going to order another Kentucky Mule here, but had had a rough night prior and stuck with water. Chas and Kate got Moscow Mules, though, and let me try a sip. It was refreshing, but overall I was pretty glad I didn't imbibe. My poor head/stomach were pretty glad, too.

The food, while tasty, was a bit of a let-down. I felt that the portions were just a bit too small for the price. Each slider (which is 95% of the menu) is individually priced. So I got the chicken and waffle slider, of course ($4.50) and a grilled cheese one ($3). For those prices, I expected more than a reheated frozen waffle (that wasn't even toasted) on the former and on the latter, a bun that you'd find in the grocery store, packaged in 12-to-a-tray for a few bucks. You know, the kind that's sold in a plastic bag, and you have to pull the rolls apart by hand? The chicken was really good, but the grilled cheese concoction was wholly unsatisfying. It wasn't grilled; I'm pretty sure they just popped the bottom bun in the oven for a second to melt the cheese. Or maybe they microwaved it. I don't want to complain too much, but I wouldn't go back again for food. The cocktails, possibly. There were a lot of interesting choices.

Soooo that's it! I have a few places picked out for the next few months, and in fact I find myself having to hold back so I don't go overboard and hit all the places on my list in one month :)

So far, this is the most successful multiple-task item on my list; I've been doing so-so on the photo a day project, and quite horribly on the house projects. But I'll have updates on those too, as update-able things happen :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Brain, start working





tank: secondhand
cardigan, gladiator sandals: Target
shorts: American Eagle
earrings: gifted (Lia Sophia)

Have you ever been so tired that your brain just kind of gives up? Yeah, that was me yesterday. For some reason, I've been sleeping poorly this week -- staying wide-awake until 11 or midnight, when I'm usually asleep by 10:30 -- and yesterday was nearly unbearable. I chugged caffeine at work all day, which kept my eyes open, but did nothing for my cognitive powers. I actually had intended to make this post on my lunch break, but when lunch rolled around I just kind of...forgot. And then forgot again that evening. And despite being exhausted after work, I couldn't nap and I couldn't fall asleep again at night. I'm feeling slightly better today, but I think I'm still kind of off. (So, my apologies if any of this post seems weird or nonsensical). At least we don't have any major plans for tomorrow; I'm going to sleep in as late as humanly possible!

In other news, this outfit is one of those I've-worn-it-three-times-but-never-manage-to-get-outfit-pics-for-blogging-purposes deals. Mostly because it's been an evening outfit, so it's usually dark before I get dressed. And I hate taking outfit photos indoors if I can help it. I finally just decided to throw the outfit on again for the explicit purpose of shooting blog photos, and I'm glad I did. This is a fun little semi-casual evening getup, I think.

And can we talk about those earrings for a sec? Since I went pixie-short more than two years ago, I've tended to avoid larger earrings. I thought they looked weird with such short hair. Then, Matt's mom got me these hoops for my birthday. I was a little hesitant at first, but I loved them the second I put them on. They just seem to work so well! Large enough to be noticed, but not so large that they seem silly with my hair. Hooray for having a future mother-in-law with such great taste!

Oof. I feel like I just hit another brick wall...My eyelids are starting to get heavy again. To the coffee shop!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Eats: Ravioli with sage-walnut butter sauce and balsamic reduction

Most of the time, I make dinner for Matt and myself. Once in a while, I get lazy and he does it. But sometimes...sometimes we tag-team dinner, and that is almost always the best idea ever.

Tag-team dinners usually involve the grill, because I've never grilled anything in my life, Matt loves grilling and our kitchen is just way too small for two people to cook in it. So yesterday afternoon, when I suggested we pick up some steaks to go with a ravioli recipe I wanted to try, Matt was pretty excited. Ok, I'll be honest, we both were. Steak is awesome.

It was an unconventional pairing, I'll admit, but I really wanted to make that ravioli because I had a TON of fresh sage that a neighbor gave us. And frankly, chicken just sounded boring.

About halfway through making the recipe, I decided photography was in order. I mean, seriously:



For real though. Straight-up mouth-watering, amiright?

The full recipe for the ravioli is over on the Food Network website, but here's a little rundown:

As a sidenote, I used frozen ravioli when the recipe called for refrigerated pasta. Frozen was fine, but I have no doubt that refrigerated would be even better.

So basically you just bring some balsamic vinegar, honey and a bay leaf to a boil in a small saucepot, let it boil for four to five minutes, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover it. It'll thicken and just become this gorgeous glaze that's totally drool-worthy. Protip: Use the back burner, and definitely DON'T lean over the pot while the vinegar is reducing. Trust me. It hurts.

While the balsamic vinegar stuff is happening, melt some butter in a skillet and bring large pot of water to a boil for the ravioli. When the butter's melted, add in lots of fresh sage and some chopped walnuts. The walnuts will toast up in about three minutes, which is likely how long the ravioli will take, too. (Or at least, that's how long my frozen stuff took.)

Add about a cup of the pasta water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Let it boil for a couple minutes, until it's reduced by half. Reserve another half-cup of pasta water, then drain. Add the drained ravioli to the skillet, tossing to coat and adding some of the reserved water if needed to loosen. Then stir in a whole bunch of Parmesan — my favorite part, natch. Stir to combine well.


Then you're ready to go! Just dish out the ravioli and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. To help pair the steak, we brushed it with butter on the grill and topped it with more fresh-grated Parmesan. (My friend Emily got me a Parm grater a while back and let me tell you, it has been amazing. I highly recommend getting one!)


What can I say? Matt and I make a great team :)

Have you made anything delicious lately? Tell me about it in the comments! I've been looking for some new recipes lately...

Monday, September 1, 2014

Budgeting bloggers: August

Welp, it was another rough month, clothing-wise. I would have been okay, but I had to buy a couple of bras. Why the heck do those have to be so dang expensive, anyway? I mean, I do shop Victoria's Secret, and they were running a special that got me a free weekend tote with my $100 bra purchase, so I guess that's kind of nice, right?


1. H&M dress via garage sale. Don't worry, this isn't a bed bug risk; my friend had a garage sale and I loved this. | $4
2. Shirt via garage sale. Because I can never have too many striped shirts, right? | $2
3. Merona maxi skirt via Target. I seriously don't want to take this off, ever. It's the comfiest. Can I has one in every color? Seriously on clearance alert for this one. | $19.99 {exact}
4. Mossimo bikini top. Because it's been three years since I bought a new one. | $17.99 {exact, now on sale}
5. Mossimo bikini top. Because one bikini top just isn't enough! | $19.99 {exact, now on sale}
6. Mossimo boyshort bikini bottom. My old bottoms were still cute and fit, but I like having a slightly more full-coverage option too. | $19.99
7. Etsy necklace. My friend Corinne has an Etsy shop, and I bought this awesome necklace. I love the long chain and the cute pendant! | $8.96 {link to shop}
8. Two Victoria's Secret bras, not pictured because I'm weird about that. Still, they're great bras and I definitely recommend them. No picture of the weekend bag, oops...| $48 each {exact}

Total: $196.97 with tax. Okay so maybe September will be a no-clothes-shopping month, haha. How did you all do on your budgets this month?