Thursday, May 31, 2012

Show Us Your... Living Room

One thing I love about linking up with Kelly's Korner's home tours is that it give me a chance to check in and show how my home has changed from year to year. In most cases it wouldn't be enough for a blog post, but that changes when it's for a specific post. It's perfect for me that the first post of the series is living rooms, because out of all the rooms in our house it's probably changed the most in the almost 2 years. This is what our living rooms looks like now...
and this is what it looked like when I wrote this post to link up almost 2 years ago.
Living Room
Quite a change right? I actually did post about our living room here when some of those changes were first made. But the biggest different from that more recent post is the boy's desk next to the fireplace, as well as the chest next to it.

But onto some more recent photos. From the older photo above you can see where we used to have our tv, instead this is what that corner of the room looks like now.
Zooming in a little closer, you can also see the table that's currently under the window. Most of the baskets underneath have blankets, but if you saw above there's a few already laying on the couch.
And if you're curious as to where the tv is now, it's in the complete opposite corner.
I wouldn't necessarily call our living room finished at this point, but I think you have to admit it is an upgrade from where it used to be.

Have you made any big upgrades to your house in the past 2 years since Kelly's done her tour of homes? And if you're stopping by here for the first time, thanks for coming, and be sure to leave a comment to say hi!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shades of Blue

Ever since the boy and I were first engaged, I've wanted to diy our invitations. Me and my mom actually had several discussion about what I wanted them to look like, and while I've fine-tuned details along with way, my general vision on them has stayed the same.

Granted I did want to diy my STDs, and while I did semi-diy them, I fell short of my initial vision. In some ways I do feel like I let myself down with them, but considering I had them out and mailed within 2 months of my mom's funeral I should probably give myself some credit. But the point I'm trying to make, is that I want to be able to achieve my vision with our invitations since I feel like i felt short previously.

I've read over and over again, if you want to diy invitations to estimate the amount of time you think it'll take and double it. I figured one month would probably give me enough time to get everything done, which by doubling it means I should give myself a 2 month window. So it makes perfect sense then, that I didn't really start on my invitations until about 2 weeks before I wanted to send them out, right?

Although to be fair I did start designing them about a month before my self-imposed deadline. I just didn't start picking up the supplies until well, now. When I went to Michael's to find the perfect paper, well I found it, just not enough. If I left myself enough time I could have bought their supply, gone to another Michael's or Hobby Lobby and bought theirs as well, and waited for the first store to restock to buy it again. Except, I'm out of time here, so I went and picked up every shade of blue and purple that would work in our color scheme.
Yes, every single piece had to be rung up separately. So thanks to the store employee checking me out and to everyone to had to wait in line behind me.
I figured no one will compare their invitations to make sure they're the same shade of blue. Of course if you reading this you know my secret. But I have to hope anyone who is reading this, who will be receiving an invitation, likes me enough not to care.

Did you decide to diy your invitations? Or did you go the semi-sane route and just order them? And if you did diy your invitations, how long did you leave yourself to make it all happen?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Can Learn a lot of Things from the Flowers

It's been a while since I've done any type of post on the backyard, which is probably because at this point it's so overgrown it's a little embarrassing. I still do love our backyard though, just wish I had more energy to maintain it a little better. But for the first time in 2012, here's a look at some of the blooms currently in our backyard. (Doing my best to avoid the overgrown parts, of course.)
Rose Bush
Aloe Plants
Aloe Plants
Unfortunately, you can see some of the overgrown-ness here.
Baby Satsumas
Baby Satsumas
Lots o' Figs
Baby Figs
Baby Lemons
Baby Lemons
Baby Pear?
When I first saw this first I was pretty sure it was some diseased looking lemon. But once I looked closer I realized it was on the tree right next to the lemon tree. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's a pear. It is the only one (at least that I've found) on the tree. So hopefully it survives long enough to ripen and I get to eat it before any animals get to it. And can I say that I love the fact that we're enter our third year in this house and still discovering more trees. (Especially since I'm pretty sure I killed the peach tree.)

Have you made any surprising discoveries in your backyard? And how good are you at maintaining your yard?

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Good Guys Dress in Black

Men in Black 3
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this one. Yes, I loved the first one back when it came out. (But I was also in 4th grade or so then.) And I'm not really sure if I've ever seen the second one all the way through. Going into this one there was a likely possibility that it wouldn't live up to the original, and it could have felt like a movie the were hoping people would see because of the name without actually caring if it were good or not.

But luckily, this wound up being one that was as good, if not better, then the first and I really enjoyable. I think this definitely did the series justice and was a lot of fun. Plus I loved the way they ended it, to the point where it almost brought me to tears.

I'm sure there are a lot of people thinking, why make another movie now after so long and whether it's worth seeing. I would say yes, and think this could easily make my top list of summer movies for the year.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday (2)

I'm back this week participating in Mailbox Monday! It was originally started by Marcia at The Printed Page and each month is hosted by a different blogger. This month's host is Martha at Martha's Bookshelf. Beware because Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists. Let's get to the books!
Mailbox Monday
Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed by E L James
Yes, I finally gave in and jumped on the bandwagon. These aren't the type of books I normally read, but with EVERYONE reading them I feel like I have to now so I can form my own opinion. Plus since they're working on a movie, I obviously have to read them before the movie comes out.

Have you given into the Shades of Grey hype yet? And what's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fast Cars and Freedom

The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner
Within the first few pages of the book we know 16-year-old Alex has just stolen his 14 car. We don't really know why he's stolen it, and even as the story continues we as the reader, or even Alex himself, never really seems to understand.

While this book was originally published in the 1970s, it does take place in the 1950s, which is funny in a way because this book could not only have been published today (and technically it is being republished now), but it could also take place now. Yes, there as aspects of the novel that give it a place in time like the soda shops, but its overall theme of a teen-aged boy falling through the cracks of society is still relevant today.

I wound up really getting into this, and at times couldn't put it down. I felt for Alex throughout, worrying for him in particular situations. It just seemed to unfair to think he was almost trapped in his life without a way to escape. At least it seemed unfair until I thought about the fact that he did just steal 14 cars. No, it wasn't malicious and he didn't really hurt anyone, but still. I realize there's the argument that it isn't really Alex's fault. After all, his parents aren't together, his father's an alcoholic, he's younger brother is no longer present in his life... But I think people can rise above their circumstances.

To be honest, (as silly as it makes me sound) I don't always enjoy novels that make me think. I would rather escape into a light and fluffy word, but with this one I had to put a lot of thought into not only the real meaning behind the words, but just understanding what was going on. I do think there are a lot of redeeming qualities on this book, and there are parts that I'll look back on fondly, but I can't picture myself wanting to pick this one up again.


Disclosure: I was provided this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Veil it Up

I don't remember if I first asked my mom, or if she brought it up first, but my mom was planning on sewing my veil. To me it just seemed like wedding veils are so expensive when all it's really only a bunch of tulle. Plus it seemed like such an easy thing to do. (Of course this is coming from me, the one whose never sewed anything before.)

My mom and I had discussions about it and she was planning on using pearls from my grandmother's (as in her mother's) veil, but she never had the chance. Although we think she may have started something since my grandmother's veil is currently MIA. Of course, I'm sure it will probably turn up at some point.
My grandmother and I at my shower
So instead in the day's following my mother's funeral, I asked my grandmother if she instead would sew my veil. We had e-mailed a few patterns back and forth, and when I was home for my shower we went fabric shopping together. And about a weekend after I returned I had a box containing my veil on the doorstop.
While I think my expression here is a little scary, it does at least give you an idea of the length. Although you can't see exactly where it ends, it goes about 6 inches or so below my fingers.
I at least look a little less scary here, and you can see a close up of the lace. You can tell it does look a little crumbled after traveling cross country in a box, but nothing that can't be easily fixed.
And here's one using the blusher. And finally an one from the back below. (I realize it's not the most centered photo, but it's hard taking these with a self-timer.) And in case you're curious, the pattern we used is McCall's M4126, picture B.
Wearing it I didn't automatically feel like a bride. Not does looking at the pictures make me think bride. (I think the black tank top kind of ruins that image.) But it was still fun trying it on, and I can wait to try it with the actual dress. To be completely honest I absolutely love the way it turned out. I would love buying a veil like this from a store, but the fact that my grandmother made it makes it all the more special to me.

Did you wind up purchasing your veil ready made or did you go the diy self? Or maybe instead, is your veil your something borrowed? And if you're not planning a wedding any time soon, have you given any thought to the type of veil you'd like to someday use?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dream a Little Dream

The wedding dreams have officially started. I've heard about brides having pre-wedding nightmares before and was excited to see if I'd have them as well. Such a silly thing to wonder about, but I guess I can officially check "Have Wedding Dream" off my to-do list. If only the rest of the list wasas easy as well.

As for my first dream, well to be honest I don't remember a lot. But what I do remember was that for some reason Ellen was at our wedding. As in Ellen Degeneres. No idea where that came from. I don't have anything against her, but I won't put her on my list of top celebrity obsessions. And while I'm planning on mailing out a celebrity invite or two, she wasn't on that list. (Although maybe this was my subconscious making sometime of marriage equality stand?)

But since I guess I was a little upset not to remember my entire wedding dream, the following night I had yet another, although sans celebrities. This time it was at the end of the reception and things were winding down. The coordinator was trying to get everyone outside for our sparkler exit, except I realized we had forgotten all the dancing. I guess within the dream, dinner and cocktail hour had run over to the point that there was no time for dancing. Which meant no horah. No time warp. Nothing. While I'm sure I must have been upset, all I really remember from the dream is being confused on how we ran out of time.

While I'm not a dream interpreting expect, I think this one is a little obvious to analyze. We're running out of time and there's still so much wedding planning to do! I know (at least I hope!) that it will all get done (including a wedding day timeline to make sure we have time for dancing), but I know I need to do a lot of work in the next few months. I guess nothing like a wedding nightmare to hit you with a bit of reality, right/

Did you have any wedding related dreams leading up to your big day? And if you could have any celebrity at your wedding, who would it be?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bridal Shower Weekend

While I've already posted about the shower, I've yet to post what else I did while in California. So finally here are a few highlights.
With Josh
Sunday we went to the Renaissance Faire which is where my brother is currently working. (At least on the weekend while it's open.) For the first time in forever, I didn't wear a costume to the faire. My costume was (and still is in Louisiana) and while I thought about flying it back with me, I decided not to. But even costume-less we still had a great time. We saw the queen,
saw a few shows,
and of course, ate!
Steak & Mushroom Shepard's Pie
To start with I had a steak and mushroom pie, which doesn't make for the best picture, but was delicious. Then I had a mango ice. (Hard to tell, but served in a mango peel.)
Mango Ice
Then we all split a royal crepe, which was filled with strawberries, bananas, and nutella, and topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
Royal Crepe
And Monday night, for my last night in California we went to WP24, which is Wolfgang Pucks newest restaurant on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton.
View from WP24
View of Downtown L.A. from the restaurant
This wound up being a really interesting restaurant. To start with it, they only offered a fix price meal, but had several options to choose from for each course (as well as a few side options). And while we were deciding what to order they brought out a few small plates for the table.
This is two (of three) small plates. On the left is a fried seafood dish and the right is a pickled cucumber. For my first course I went with peking duck rolls,
Peking Duck
and had some of the best lamb chomps I've ever eaten for my main course.
Lamp Chops
When we got the dessert menus I was surprised to see that Sally Camacho of Top Chef Just Desserts was the pastry chef. Sally was one of my favorites last season, and I was so excited to finally be able to eat official top chef food. While she did have one of her quickfire challenges on the menu (an Ovaltine based dessert) I instead went with her caramel apple themed dessert. It included cinnamon doughnuts, ice cream (if remember correctly it was star anise flavored), plus apples, whipped cream, and of course bits of caramel. (The congrats is because my dad told the waiter I was in town for my bridal shower.)
Caramel Apples
Along with my actual shower it wound up being a great weekend back in California, and all too soon I was back in Louisiana.

And for a little have you ever... Have you ever been to the Renaissance Faire? Or eaten at a Top Chef's restaurant?

Monday, May 21, 2012


What to Expecting When You're Expecting
The only reason I was able to convince the boy to see this was because the other movies opening this weekend (The Dictator and Battleship) both looked like they were going to be awful. But while we still both agree that this was the best choice, this one also wound up being pretty bad.

Yes, were good jokes and great lines, quite a bit even. But just stringing together random jokes doesn't quite make a movie. Although being that this was an adaption of a self-help book, it isn't that surprising.

There are 5 expecting moms in this and through them we're able to see a wide range of pregnancy symptoms and feelings. There are those who've have been trying to get pregnant, who got pregnant as mistake, who are miserable throughout the pregnancy, who love every aspect of being pregnant. And it even tackles adoption and miscarriage.

If you're looking for a superlong infomercial of what pregnancy is like, then you've found what you're looking for. But as a movie, while it did have its moments, it didn't quite work.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Today I'm linking up with Mailbox Monday. It was originally started by The Printed Page, and each month there's a new host. This month is hosted by Martha's Bookshelf. So let's get to the books!
Mailbox Monday
From My Mom
When I was home recently for my bridal shower I made a point to go through my parents' house and pick up a few items. I did go through the books as well and somehow managed to fly back with several. These are the books of my mom's that I brought home with me.

Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale
This is actually the book my mom was reading when she passes away. Her bookmark is still in it, and she was about halfway through. I remember talking to my mom about it in the hospital, telling her if she liked it she'd probably like the Pioneer Woman memoir as well. I wanted to read this then, and especially now that's there's more meaning behind it.

30-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray
30-Minute Meals 2 by Rachael Ray
What's for Dinner? by Michael Roberts
About a year ago my mom redid her breakfast room. She turned one entire wall into shelves, and filled it with cookbooks. Her thought was an entire wall of cookbooks was enough, and anything that didn't fit she didn't really need. Since she was getting rid of books these were some she set aside for me. She had them packed up in a box to mail, but never had a chance to fill it. But this time home I was able to bring them back.

The Geography of Girlhood by Kirsten Smith
The is a YA book told in verse I had never heard of. Although looking through it now, it's signed from the author and there's a note from my godmother inside to my mom which also includes, "P.S. Shoshanah might like it too!" So I guess I was meant to bring this back with me.

The Book of Splendor by Frances Sherwood
This is a historical fiction book about Judaism in 17th century Prague. I hadn't heard of this one either, but it does look like one I'd enjoy.

Immortal by Traci Slatton
Another historical fiction that was unheard previously. This one takes place in Florence during the Renaissance.

The Girl in the Red Coat by Roma Ligocka
I actually had heard of this one before. This is a Holocaust memoir about a woman who saw Schindler's List and realized "the girl in the red coat" had to be based on others' memories of her.

Motherhood & Hollywood by Patricia Heaton
A different type of memoir, this one written by Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond

A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi
This is a romance-y novel set in Venice. Looking through it there's a few recipes included as well.

For Review from the Publisher
The Car Thief by Theodore Weesner
I'm about halfway through this one, and so far I'm a fan. This book was originally published in the 1970s, and is being republished as an ebook this year. It's about a boy growing up and becoming and adult in 1950s Michigan..

From TLC Book Tours
I, Iago by Nicole Galland
I've already read and reviewed this one. It's a retelling of Shakespeare's Othello from the view of Iago. For more of my thoughts on it be sure to check out my review.

Dead Beautiful Melanie Dugan
This is a YA that's a modern day retelling of the Greek myth, Persephone. It looks like it will be an interesting read, so hopefully I enjoy it.

I know that there's a lot here, so thanks for reading along! And be sure to tell me what's in your mailbox this week.

Friday, May 18, 2012

His Inheritance

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
As silly as it may sound, my biggest problem with this book was that it had been so long since I read the rest of the series. I read the third book in the series over 3 and a half years ago, and the first two over 5 years ago. I remember the basic story, and the book did include a brief summary of the previous books, but even so, but the end I still couldn't keep the characters straight. Although waiting so long wasn't really my fault, since this one was only published a few months ago. But I do think I would have enjoyed it more if I reread the first three before diving into this one.

My other complaint was that it took me a while to get into the book. Yes, it is a long book and I wasn't expecting it to be quick reading. But even so, I didn't feel like the book really picked up until about halfway through.

Even with these complaints I did still really enjoy this book. I thought it was a fitting end to an exciting book series. And while everything didn't end up picture perfect, I do think it all made sense for the characters and it definitely completely the story arc.

In the acknowledgments Paolini does hint that he'd love to write more in Eragon's world. I hope he does, because I'd love to pick it up. If you haven't picked up these books yet (or been turned off by the awful movie adaption), I really think they're worth picking up. But don't be like me, and read each book so you can still remember each one before it.


Today I'm linking up with Blonde Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

From the Eyes of the Villain

I, Iago by Nicole Gallad
I feel a little embarrassed to admit this, but the only reason I know anything about the story of Othello is from the Josh Harnett & Julia Stiles movie, O. Although this was part of the reason I was excited to read the book, so I could learn more about the actual play but from an unexpected form.

This book is a retelling of Shakespeare's Othello but from the point of view of Iago, the villain. And it isn't the origonal, it is the same story taking place in Italy during the Renaissance (instead of say, a modern day reimaging like O). I did wind up really enjoying this, and captivated throughout. (Although I think Shakespeare probably deserves some of the credit for that.) But I did feel for Iago throughout, which I don't believe you're supposed to get from the actual play.

I do think that I may have been at a disadvantage going into this without knowing a lot of the background. But on the other hand I didn't feel lost, like I was missing important background knowledge. And I also think that not knowing the story may have helped, because I didn't know what to expect so there was still an element of surprise throughout.

I can't really speak for someone who knows (and perhaps loves) Shakespeare's original, but from my point of view, I was most definitely a fan of this. Granted being a historical fiction sent during the Renaissance it's the type of book I love reading normally. But even so, I would easily recommend this one.


Disclosure: I was provided this book through TLC Book Tours. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From LA to L.A.

Going into my shower I knew I wanted to do something nice for my MOH and her mom, who were hosting the shower. I've seen some cute, "Thank you for the shower" gift bags filled with actual shower supplies, which I've loved. I really thought about doing something like that, except that's not the type of present I normally give. I know I could have done it up and made it extra cute, but it seemed a little too generic for me.

So instead, thinking a little outside the box, knowing that I live in Louisiana and I was going to be flying to my shower in California, I thought it would be fun to do a small Louisiana gift bag. Over the days leading up to my flight and made a point to pick up a few Louisiana themed items coming up with the following...
Louisiana Thank You Present
There's a bag of Zapp's Cajun Crawtators potato chips. (The boy was not very happy with me to find two bags of these in the house, none of which he could open. I guess I should have thought to buy one extra bag of chips for him.) A bag of jambalaya mix. (This is actually the mix we use most often when making jambalaya.) A can of Cajun seasoning. (The more standard would have been a can of Tony Chachere, but I though since this was for my MOH and her mom Slap Ya Momma was a better fit.) As well as two kinds of pralines (chocolate fudge as well as original). No this wasn't the most standard shower thank you present, but I thought considering the circumstances it worked perfect. Plus they seemed to enjoy the gift bags as well!
Opening Thank You Presents
Did you wind up gifting your hostess anything for your showers? Did you go with something more traditional (flowers, maybe?) or was your a idea a little further outside the box?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Showered with Love

I know you've all been waiting with baited breath, but finally, I have the photos from my shower out in California!
Here Comes the Bride
Not the brightest picture, but you can see the dress I wore, plus the chair where I sat to open presents.
The shower was hosted by my MOH with her mom, and her mom's home. There were about 15 of some of my closest family and friends there to celebrate with me. As people started arriving we had appetizers and sangria for everyone to enjoy while mingling.
Me & my MOH with our glasses of sangria.
Once everybody had arrived we sat outside to play games. There was a crossword puzzle made up of answers about me and the boy. (Any guesses as to my favorite band or food? Or the class in which the boy and I met?) Surprisingly, some of the questions even stumped me. At least at first.
Not during the games, but it is one of the few pictures I have outside.
For the second game we played a version of the newlywed game. My MOH had e-mailed the boy several questions where I was supposed to guess his response. I don't know how many questions I got right, but that's probably a good thing. Although there were a few amusing answers, like the boy's response to who he'd like to met. He said I would guess Stevie Ray Vaughan (which I did), but it was actually the mathematician Leonhard Euler.
Me & 2 of my bridesmaids with our rings... at least for the day.
After games we moved inside for lunch and to open presents. Since the shower was in Southern California and the boy & I live in Louisiana, my MOH asked guests to include a picture or a note of the gift into the card. This meant that in the days leading up to my trip I was getting boxes in the mail. But to keep the surprise, didn't open a single one. That way each time I opened a card I had no idea what to expect.
Kitchen Aid Mixer
Yes, this is me opening my new Kitchenaid Mixer. Not quite the picture you're used to seeing, right?
But even with the restriction people had fun with it. If you look at the picture below you can see me opening a box, I believe from one of my aunts, but the only thing inside was a bunch of tissue paper and a picture of the gift.
You know that any shower for me had to have dessert. First there was cake brought by my godmother.
Bridal Shower Cake
But on top of that there was even a candy bar!
Candy Buffet
I snacked on this not just at the actual shower, but throughout the entire weekend.
I wound up having the best time, and am so grateful and thankful for everyone that attended and made it all happen. But more than that being at my shower and having people asking me questions and waiting to know all the details, suddenly make the actual wedding feel real. At the party it really started to hit me that in less than 4 months the boy and I will be married, and I know the time will just fly by.

Did anyone else's shower make them realize just how close their wedding actually was? And any guesses as to which candy I kept going back for?