Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday gift guide

I see a lot of bloggers doing holiday gift guides of the trendiest, best presents, and I thought I would do one myself. 

This holiday gift guide comes courtesy of ThisIsWhyImBroke.Com– a website that Dan showed me. (In case you are confused, it does not link to Target.com – but that seriously is why I am broke).

I don’t know if I can even begin to summarize what this website is. So let’s just begin, shall we?
Source
First of all – remember this post? You too can give one to a friend for only 6 figures! Hopefully after a gift like that, they will let you borrow their boat.

Source
For the photographer friend. I got you this for Christmas, mom. Sorry to ruin the surprise.

Source
This is a gift to yourself. If you would like to freak someone out -- put this in a friend's bed while they are sleeping. It's one quarter of a man, with creepy cloth puppet fingers. 

Seriously, this terrifies me. But seeing your friend's reaction when they wake up? Merry Christmas to you!

Source
This gift idea is for me. I would like red. In my stocking. K thanks.

Source
This gift is for the hard-to-buy-for on your list. Who doesn't want glow in the dark toilet paper? "Functional and Fun" ... I'm sorry ... I can't ... you'll just have to read the rest of the description yourself.

Source
This is by far my favorite. It is available on Amazon. If you usually check reviews before you purchase, let me summarize:

One lady gives it five stars and said it was, "more fun than a barrel of monkeys," her kids love it, and it holds up to 440 lbs .... (I would like to know who put a 440 lb kid in this thing).

Another person gave it 2 stars because it was missing instructions. He did casually mention that “when someone unzipped the ball, the air all rushed out at once and the person inside was enveloped and smashed by the deflating plastic. While getting out, it was difficult to keep the ball from being swamped with water and sinking with the person still inside…. Also, there’s only about 5 to 7 minutes worth of oxygen when you’re in the ball.” Small details. In summary, he writes that it was a lot of fun – he just gave it two stars because he wished it came with instructions. 

And lastly, another five star review: 

Source

I hope your friends and family enjoy all of your presents. Merry Christmas yall!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Work Stories

First:

I had an 8 am meeting with the team, walked in about 5 til, saw them walking to the meeting room, and knew I would be just a minute or two behind them. When I got to the room – the team wasn’t there. I thought I was in the wrong room or wrong building – so I texted my boss to ask about the room number. A few minutes later they walked in – they had gone to get coffee.

About an hour into the meeting (it was a long one), we are watching a presentation when my boss’s phone rings. He checks his phone, looks incredibly confused, turns to me, and looks at me like I have lost my mind.

Boss: reading “‘Where are we?’ … Kelley … you are at work.”

Apparently I was not very descriptive in my text. I could have said ‘hey what room is our 8 am meeting in?’ Then when he received the text an hour later, he wouldn’t think I was crazy. Instead, he thinks I texted him, while in the meeting, asking, “Where are we?”

Second:

Background: most people at work have iPhones that they use to check email, instant message, etc. while they are not at their desks.

We were in a meeting headed up by our VP – with about 50 people in the room. It was a pretty important meeting, with a lot of information at once, so everyone is paying attention / not on their phones or laptops / etc. Our VP finishes with “Anyone have any questions?”

From the front row, Siri asks “What is your father’s name?”

The phone was sitting on the table – I have absolutely no idea what made Siri decide to speak. It got the entire room laughing as our VP replies, “Earl, Siri. My father’s name is Earl. Any other questions?”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

P.S.

In my post from Greenville, I forgot to add this picture (that Grace took):


Isn't this the cutest picture of Koda? Maybe I am biased - but I find it adorable. 

Close up:


Love them both so much!

I am back tomorrow with more posts - but wanted to share that picture. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holy hair

My hair was getting incredibly long. I thought about donating it again -- but it is so layered, I just imagined a poor little girl with a ginger mullet (no thanks!). 

Since I couldn't decide what to do, it just kept getting longer .. and longer. Case and point:


So I just decided to chop it all off!!


Juuuuust kidding. That's an old picture. My dad is panicking right now. 

But I did take four inches off of it - which it really needed. 


SO much better! It's long, but I no longer look like a Duggar. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weekend in Greenville and Panthers Game

This past weekend was so much fun. The kind of weekend where someone asks "why are your eyes so puffy" on Monday morning, and you realize that you hadn't noticed how tired you were, because you were still on a high from how much fun you had. (And you also didn't notice how mean your co-workers were, until that comment.)

We went to Greenville for Saturday night. Blair organized a gift exchange (not the kind where you draw names, but the kind where you can steal) for the girls. Dan was concerned he would be bored, so he asked Brett if he could come play too. So the girls stayed in and the boys went out in Greenville. 



We drank wine.

"Blends have more fun"

We opened presents. 



We took awkward solo shots of everyone but Kelley ... wait.






We ate, drank, talked, and laughed until we cried.

I immediately regretted the ab ripper that I did earlier in the day. 

Before we knew it, it was 3 am.

Those are my kinds of nights. These girls are all within a few hours, and we don't see each other nearly often enough. And sometimes I wonder why a clean house, laundry, and errands seem more important than laughing with girlfriends until 3 am. So next time: my house. not vacuumed. amidst a pile of laundry. Blair - bring the bombshell wine.

We headed out pretty early because my Falcons were playing the Panthers in Charlotte (I don't want to talk about it) and Dan and I had plans to go to the game.

Dan wore my old Chris Chandler jersey (the QB the last time the Falcons went to the superbowl), because I thought it would be good luck. 




We paid $20 for each ticket, and had pretty good seats! Upper level, only a few rows up, on the 50 yard line. This was our view:


It would have been so much better if we had won! 11-1 and we couldn't beat Carolina! Ugh. We sat near a ton of Panthers fans, and they were giving me a hard time, but it was pretty funny. At one point, one of them said "now missy - this has all been fun and games - and we have been pretty nice to you - but if your Falcons come back and win this - we aren't going to be so nice." Haha.

The loss really is our fault. You see nachos are lucky - and we ordered them way too late in the game. I'm really sorry about that, Altanta fans. 


Dan zipped up his jacket to hide the jersey once the game was over. 

I think we will both be very tired this week, but neither of us mind one bit! We are ready for a busy rest of December, seeing family, friends, and ringing in the new year with some of our favorite people!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Oh! You hung the socks!

Dan: "Oh! You hung the socks!"
Kelley: ....stockings?


What I did:


What Dan thinks I did:


Wouldn't be Christmas without hanging the socks!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My only picture from Thanksgiving

I took only one picture over Thanksgiving. Just this one:


Beautiful right?!

I call it “an abstract of my pants.” Those are teal sweatpants, in case you can’t tell. Or comfiest travel pants ever.

You see, I have the worst luck on flights. I always sit next to the creepiest people, or the smelliest, so I assumed going to Wisconsin would be no different. (Well, it was different. I sat next to a British girl who looked just like the middle sister from Modern Family, we chatted the whole flight, and it was awesome).

But, I see this man.

Who has this hacking, awful cough. Sneezing and snotting all over his sleeve. Eating 3 (!) checkers burgers. 2 large fries. 1 coke. And a bag of peanuts. Salted. Because he ‘aint eat no s*** without salt.’ And he is the largest man I have ever seen in real life. Looks just like the before pictures on Biggest Loser.

He is there with his mother complaining that during the 40 minute flight, they weren’t going to feed him, so he better eat up. (If you have read a Confederacy of Dunces, see Ignatius J. Reilly. If you have not read it, you should. Perhaps on your next flight).

Anyway, this isn’t about him. Or books. It’s about me. Isn’t it always?

I decide to send Dan a picture of this guy to say “guess who I am going to end up sitting next to?” I do the pretending-to-text-while-pulling-out-the-camera move.

And this huge flash goes off.

HUGE. Who knew my phone flashed that bight? In a panic, I moved the phone down like I wasn’t actually taking a picture of the large man sitting 2 feet away from me. And took a picture of my pants.

There is no way he didn’t notice. There is no way anyone at gate B22 didn’t notice.

So embarrassing! I was mortified. And now I have a slight fear of my camera phone.

I am a horrible person, and I think it was karma. And kind of funny. So I thought I would share the only picture I took over Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Hello all. It has been awhile, hasn’t it? Work being busy, prepping to go out of town, and going out of town have gotten me behind. I thought for sure once on Thanksgiving break – I’d write a few blog posts, catch up, it would be awesome. Then somehow time started flying by in the way it does when you have a day off of work. And now we are back here.

I like for my posts to have pictures. If a memory doesn’t have a picture associated, I feel like I shouldn’t write about it. Well, I’m throwing that out today. I took no pictures over Thanksgiving.

Well .. one. I’ll show you that one tomorrow. Suspense is killing you, I know it.

Long, convoluted, travel-plan-story short: We went to Wisconsin. Dan drove Tuesday, I flew after work Tuesday, and we drove back together Sunday. Koda came too. Caught up? Good.

We got in late Tuesday. I met Dan’s soccer coach at the local coffee shop on Wednesday morning. (That’s how things happen in Neenah, Wisconsin. You order the usual. You run into people. It’s all very foreign). Wednesday was spent mostly preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. I tried to help my mother in law in the kitchen as much as possible. It left the boys to do some target practice with the BB Gun in the back yard. (Also, very foreign.)

For those of you who now think Neenah seems like a southern city, it is not. There was still a lot of cheese eating in Packers sweatshirts, while nodding “ooohhhh yah!” Don’t. You. Worry.

We went out to dinner with Dan’s grandfather and his new fiancee (who is lovely!) on Wednesday night. Had a ton of family over (my favorite) for a delicious Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. I will have to steal my mother in law’s recipe for chocolate cake – it was the best.

Friday and Saturday were a blur, mostly spent in a food coma. I do remember being force fed cheesecake. Against my will.

And now, at work, my chair slowly sinks throughout the day. I’d like to think it’s unrelated.

It was a wonderful time with family, and time off from work. I would do it over and over again if I could. I wish these people didn’t live so far away!

Speaking of far away, we had to start our 16 (turned 19, don’t ask) hour drive on Sunday.

All I wanted was candy. You know, some peach rings, swedish fish, or gummy bears? What’s a roadtrip without candy? Well someone decided that I did NOT need candy that day. 

The first time we stop, (around 7 am) the gas station has no good candy. I cut my losses and think that there is plenty of time to stop later. The second time we stop (around 1), my dad calls. The Falcon's game wasn't working on our phones, so he called to catch me up on the game. Well Dan starts to drive off! I say that I wanted candy, and he said that we 'would stop again.’ Ugh.

Third time (around 4), I am driving, we get Dan coffee, and I turn to stop for candy. Dan says ‘Do you really want to stop now, or just get it the next time?’ I AM GETTING CANDY. I AM DRIVING. DEAL WITH IT.

Wellllllll. That didn’t happen. You see, I pick out my candy, and start to head to the register when the gas station gets robbed! 

Not lying.

The guy behind the counter starts yelling at this guy, “you are stealing from me! Put everything back!”. The guy is yelling back, “you are crazy! Shut up!”

I didn’t want to be part of a gas station hostage situation over some tobacco products. So I slowly put my candy back, and Dan and I shuffled to the car.

Really? Candy? It just wasn’t meant to be.

Our road trip ended around 2am Monday morning with us blasting Nelly and Ludacris (rap, mom.) from the late 90s just to make it through the last hour. Needless to say, we were pretty tired for work on Monday. But I would do it again in a heartbeat!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Love always wins

Do you guys read Momastery? (I promise this post has a point. And I also promise to be super wordy in the meantime, when getting to that point. Enjoy). The gist of her blog is that it is like a monastery -- but for moms -- and instead of monks -- because they aren't perfect -- they are monkees. I'm not sure I fully get it - but you can read her blog to find out more. 

If you want a good laugh, read this post about her daughter. Actually, read that one no matter what. Everyone needs a laugh.

Well, this year she is doing Holiday Hands (I think she has done it in past years, but on a smaller scale). The idea is simple. That people go through times in life when they are up, and times when they are down. You should give when you are up, you should take when you are down, and that love always wins. Super cheesy right? I love it!

You can find her post here. But it includes small things people are asking for for themselves, friends, families, or children. They could be winter coats for kids, a few used toys as christmas presents, or an older camera for capturing family memories. Many of us have things laying around the house that might end up at goodwill or (worse) in the trash. These are very small things that could completely make someone's month / holiday / etc. 

I encourage everyone to browse the posts. Even if you don't have the financial capability to give to anything this year -- you just might have an old prom dress that will fit the 16 year old who's mother can't afford one this year. 

Dan and I need to keep reading through the posts, but have already gotten in touch with a lady who is collecting Bed Bath and Beyond coupons for Hurricane Sandy victims. Her thought: if they have to replace everything, we can at least help with some coupons!

Seven coupons are in the mail, on the way to her as we speak. 


The gratitude in the responses is what keeps me digging for more ways that we can help. Not sure if this link will work, but look up Momastery on Facebook to see some of the responses Glennon is getting. They will give you goosebumps. 

You won't get a generic-letter-thank-you from a non-profit (not that those aren't amazing as well!) but an incredibly grateful email, directly from the person you helped. 

It all stops on Thanksgiving day -- so keep an eye on the calendar!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Does Black Spray Paint Come Out of Blonde Hair?

Does black spray paint come out of blonde hair? That was, in a sense, my Facebook status the Saturday before Halloween. Despite no real reassurance that it would come out, Dan and I still went for it. I half assumed we would be running to the store, buying blonde hair dye the next day.

For Halloween, we went as Sandy and Danny from Grease. It was a costume we could pull off with items we had around the house. 


My mother's first comment: WHY... did you own those pants?! 

Umm .. they are Miley Cyrus for Walmart. I bought them for $8 and just knew that one day I would need stretchy pleather leggings. 

Plus, some thigh high boots and a chunky sweater and I might get mistaken for Kourtney Kardashian. My point: these pants were a clutch purchase. Don't be offended if I wear them in real life. 


This is the only picture we got together before my camera died. Odd angle, not ready, self-timer, but you get the gist. I know my hair isn't right, but I had the blonde wig already. 

Speaking of hair ....


Yeah. That was my husband. People were shocked when they saw him. And those who met him for the first time that night, definitely wont recognize him in the future. I am happy to say that three just-in-case-shampoo's later -- he's back to blonde.

I have to tell you, though, that Dan has never seen Grease. I didn't think people like that existed. I merely told him, "We are going to be Sandy and Danny from Grease." "Here wear this." "Close your eyes while I spray your hair." I didn't think there was any issue with Dan knowing who he was for Halloween.

Actual conversation:

Dan's friend: Hey!!! John Travolta!!

Dan: Um. No. I think I'm Danny.

WOW. Looks like we will be watching Grease this weekend!

Update: Since this is my most googled post, after a thorough shampoo, he went back to his blonde self with no signs of the spray / dulling of his haircolor / etc. You can always add some baking soda to the shampoo for some extra scrubbing power.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Koda and the screen door

This video was taken awhile ago, but I just had to share it. When we first screened in the porch, we knew we wanted a cafe door. My parents' dog Lily goes in and out of their screened in porch herself, and we knew we didn't want to have to open two doors to let Koda out -- how lazy can we be? First world problems, huh?

Well Koda, from very early on, realized that doors only open one way. The doors in our apartment, and all three doors in our house, have to be opened one specific way, in order for her to go out. She's observant like that!

So the cafe door must be the same. You can only walk through it when it is pushed a certain way! Which means -- heading outside, you simply push straight through. Heading back in, though, is a more complicated maneuver. Take a look:



If it doesn't play, try this link here. And we have since stained the new wood to match -- in case you were concerned.

Over a year later, this is how she gets in and out of this door. Every now and then she gets too excited and runs straight through. At that point she stops, looks all around, amazed, wondering how she could have ever made it through. She usually doesn't try it again for awhile.

One day she might learn, until then, we just think it's cute!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our weekend in Atlanta

We packed up our dancing shoes and our furry child and headed to Atlanta around 7 pm on Friday. Because of some lovely road construction, we arrived at about 11:30 pm.

We gave tons of lovins to my mom’s dog Lily. Have you read about her? She seems to be doing better, but it is a slow process. I think she enjoyed having company!

Saturday my mom made French toast, which we topped with delicious apple butter. (We ate a whole jar while we were there). And then spent the rest of the morning drinking coffee, catching up, and touring her garden to check out what is in bloom. My parents built this beautiful stone and wood shed in their backyard (mom – can you blog about that?), and she will be in the Georgia Master Gardener’s Garden tour in May. So while she says she has a lot of work to do (and I don’t doubt that her garden is a lot of work!), for my standards, it is tour ready now!

After that, it was time to head downtown to celebrate the marriage of two wonderful people. 

Thanks mom for the picture!
The wedding was at 2:30, the shuttle from the hotel left at 4, cocktail hour started at 5, and I don’t think we left until about 10:30. This allowed for lots of time catching up with friends and celebrating the beautiful couple. I love how they did the schedule that way.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful with no detail spared. The church was gorgeous, PAIGE was gorgeous, the cocktail hour was outside in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, baskets were filled with flip flops as dancing shoes, tea and lemonade were served prior to the bar opening, the flowers on the tables were beautiful, the food was some of the best I have had, the mother / son dance turned into a flash mob to "Staying Alive," the photobooth / guestbook made for lots of laughs, and I could go on and on.

Chihuly Fountain



Table 13:


The place card table. Blurry ... but a glimpse of how beautiful the wedding was and the details involved.


Dance moves by the groom:

He swept her off her feet (pun intended):


After the wedding, we all headed to The Ivy. Somehow, in all of downtown Atlanta, one person mentions "people are going to The Ivy" and all of us head over there. It was like an unofficial after party.

Now. The part I wish I had documented: The cajun fries. Wait. Let me back up.

It's now 3 am (which is way past my bed time, and the Matchbox 20 song is playing in my head, along with "Closing Time," because it just seems fitting .. I'm rambling). Well Brett decides that he needs something to eat. None of us thinking it is a good idea .. just yet. He asks the lady at the front desk who delivers at this hour, and she hands him the menu of a Chinese Place. 

I know. ...You are wondering where cajun fries are coming into play? We are still wondering that today. 

You see. On the menu, they had cajun fries. And, as much as it pains me to tell you this, they sounded like a wonderful idea at the time. None of the following went through our heads:
  1. What non-sketchy restaurant delivers at 3 am? Exactly.
  2. Oprah says not to eat past 7.
  3. What Chinese place serves cajun fries? Identity crisis? Who. Are. They?
Let me tell you. These were the worst fries ever. They were clearly baked in 2002 and microwaved around midnight. Unfortunately, we ate way too many of them. Moral of the story: don't order cajun fries from a Chinese place. Oh, you never would? Well someone should have told us.

After the cajun fries and a few hours of sleep, we went back to mom's to have brunch with my Aunt and Uncle, who I hadn't seen in too long. It's always so good to see them, and I end up with wonderful recipes and other creative ideas from my Aunt. She is an awesome cook!

My mom made her Chicago Breakfast Bowls. As soon as she puts the recipe up on her blog - I'll share. If it takes too long, I'll post it myself. 

We watched the Falcons win and headed back to Charlotte just in time for bed. It was a great weekend!

PS. You now have "Closing Time" stuck in your head don't you? You don't have to go home but you can't, stay, here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Apple Butter

The whole house smells so good when I make this apple butter. It cooks in the crockpot for 24 hours.


So far we have had it on french toast, regular toast, and crepes. I think it would taste good heated up and poured over ice cream! The recipe is here. (I wish she still blogged!).


Before tomorrow is over, I will have a re-cap of last weekend in Atlanta. We have been unpacking, doing laundry, cleaning, catching up on fall TV, etc. But, until then:

Fall bucket list cross-off:
  • Make homemade apple butter. Can it. Share with friends.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Roasted chicken, butternut squash, and potatoes

It might seem like recipe overload lately (and for that, I apologize). I’m sure I have other things to talk about than food… Maybe not.  Some recipes are so good that they need to be shared. Others, like this, are more ‘thrown together’ items – that I never remember what I put in them – never write down – and therefore, never have again.

Poor Dan: “You made some pasta thing that was so good! Can you make that?” “What was in it?” “I don’t know. Vegetables?” Helpful.

So this post might be more for me than you. But it should be for you, too. Because it was delicious, easy, and looks fancy. First, I roasted a chicken with Trader Joe’s Everyday Spices. (Intimidated about roasting a whole chicken? Don’t be. Ready? Preheat oven to 400. Put in bird upside down. Turn oven to 350. Wait 15 minutes. Flip bird over. Take it out when it has been in for a total of 20 minutes per pound. Rest 15 minutes before cutting. Easy Peasy.)

Then, I cubed the butternut squash. Read this article before you attempt to cube butternut squash. It shows how to do so, while keeping all fingers. I read this after I attempted the cubing process. I’m pretty sure I found the hardest way possible to cut up this gourd.

I roasted the butternut squash with some olive oil and cinnamon.

I roasted teeny tiny potatoes (no. literally. that’s the name on the package.) with about 8 garlic cloves, olive oil and some salt.

I threw the squash, the teeny tiny potatoes (how fun is that to say?) and the garlic on the bottom of the plate, and put pieces of the chicken on top. Topped the dish with rosemary from our garden. 

Bad lighting - but you get the idea.

YUM.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sunday's breakfast

Breakfast:



Fall bucket list cross-offs:

  • Make homemade apple pie. Eat it for breakfast. With icecream.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Homemade apple sauce

As a girl who could eat fruit all day, every day (seriously .. I challenge you to a fruit-off) – this homemade apple sauce is one of my favorites.


And since it’s homemade, it seems more appropriate for adulthood. 

And silences questions when you bust out applesauce at work. Especially when you are younger than most colleagues by at least 15 years. You can imagine the jokes that ensue.

But when you say, “I made it last night with apples that I picked myself” people seem to let applesauce slide.

Microwavable corndogs, though? You’ll never live that one down.

I digress.

I have to thank my wonderful mother in law for showing me how easy this is to make. With her apple peeler / slicer this takes her only minutes. I have altered her recipe a little as far as the spices / sugar goes.

Ingredients

apples
1 cup of water
1/3 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon

Start with 8 peeled apples. Remove the core, and chop into large chunks.


Place the apples and the water in the bottom of a lidded pot. Cover in the cinnamon and sugar. Boil covered for 10 minutes.


Place the cooked apples and the liquid in a blender and blend until smooth. (Or less, if you like chunky applesauce).


It’s that simple! And delicious warm, as well!

This recipe is very forgiving .. add as little or as much cinnamon as you like. If you’d rather use Truvia or Splenda, it works just as well. I think for my next batch, I am going to try skipping the additional sugar. I'm hoping the fresh picked apples will be sweet enough.

Fall bucket list cross-off:
  • Make homemade apple sauce with the fresh picked apples