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?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White pants



blouse: The Limited via Discount Fashion Warehouse
slacks: Express via DFWh
heels: Target
necklace: Etsy

Oh, white pants. You are both awesome and terrifying. I mean, I'm a clumsy person. I knock things over and drop things and spill things like it's my job. And yet, I own a pair of white slacks, a pair of white denim capris and a white skirt. And thus far (knock on wood) I've managed to wear all three on multiple occasions without incident.

In other news, I've been crafting up a storm lately. Working on our DIY wedding flowers, making our save-the-date magnets (tutorial coming soon) and sending off invitations to my friend Hayley's baby shower have all kept me busy.

Fortunately, there's a long weekend coming up and I don't have any plans besides GSD: Getting Shiz Done. Bonus: Matt's going out of town one of the nights so I won't be temped to pull another lazy Saturday watching movies on the couch ;) Please tell me I'm not the only one who's more productive when her significant other isn't around!