Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday!  For my peeps on the East Coast, don't let Sandy rain on your parade.  My most memorable Halloween will always be the Blizzard of 1991.  We bought our candy yesterday, so we are ready for any ghouls or goblins that venture our way tonight.  (Last year, I bought candy the day of and it was so picked over!  Major improvement this year.)

While I'm not that crazy about this holiday, I appreciate that tonight is the big kickoff for the holiday season!  Only a couple weeks until Thanksgiving and Christmas!!  Enjoy!

xoxo,
Al

October Foodie Pen Pals Reveal.

Hi everyone!  This month, I signed up for Foodie Pen Pals, a program designed by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.  Basically, you send a fun package of food to another blogger/reader and one gets sent to you! There's a $15 limit and you post about what you received at the end of the month.  Simple, right?!

Rose, from St. Louis, sent me my package this month:


  

GF Almond Flour (!!!)
Couscous
Whipping Cream
and Gingerbread Spice Tea

Yum!  Thanks, Rose!  It was kind of fun being sent a care package for really no reason.  If you are interested in participating, sign up here.  

xoxo,
Al

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Give Blood, Save Lives.

Confession: I love giving blood.  Weird, I know.  But it's true.

It started in high school at the National Honor Society (yes, I'm a nerd and proud of it) blood drives each year.  In college, I helped plan the Carolina/Clemson Blood Drive.  And in law school, the Women Law Student Association started organizing yearly blood drives while I was a member.  My parents give regularly, and I have followed their lead.  This is something I feel passionate about and I urge you from the bottom of my heart to consider giving blood.

The facts are simple:

1 hour of time = 1 pint of blood = 3 components = up to 3 lives saved

1 out of 3 people will need blood in their lifetime

the demand for blood does not go away, the supply does

If you began donating blood at age 16 and donated every 56 days until you reached 76, you would have donated over 48 gallons of blood, potentially saving 1,100 lives!

As the busy holiday season begins, please consider scheduling a time to give blood.  Blood supplies get low this time of year and they desperately need donations.  Scheduling an appointment is super easy through Memorial Blood - just click here.  You just never know whose life you might save.

xoxo,
Al


Monday, October 29, 2012

Founders Day.

It's no secret here that I was in a sorority around here.  And it should not be a secret that I love my sorority. It gave me my best friends in college, my first job, and helped me discover my passion for leadership.  But what I love most about Kappa is the opportunity to stay engaged in the organization as an alumna.

Two weeks ago, we celebrated Founders Day.  I advise now for a chapter and was invited to attend their celebration of Founders Day.  It was so special to interact with the collegiate and alumnae members that were there.  Alumnae were asked to share why we keep Kappa in our lives as we grow older.  Honestly, it was difficult for me to share all the amazing reasons in only a minute or so.  I could talk forever about Kappa and the way it has shaped my life so far.  

I even got a little choked up as a mother spoke about her joy in seeing her daughter join the chapter she was a part of years ago.  She even shared that her first date with her now husband began in front of the very fireplace pictured below.  And her daughter now gets to grow up in that house!  (Because let's face it, you do a lot of growing up in college.)

It was a wonderful evening, reconnecting and reaffirming my relationship with an organization that has given me so much.  I appreciate the ability to take time each year to honor the six courageous young women, who in 1870, placed golden keys in their hair and marched boldly into a chapel on campus and declared themselves to be Kappa Kappa Gamma.  Those six women changed my life that day in 1870 and I am forever thankful.

Pretending to be an active member again!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Workout: 10.28.12

It's been a bit since I've posted a weekend workout but I have a quick Zumba ab burner for us!  Turn it up and work those abs!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Life Right Now.


Who needs anything else, right?  Hope you are all having a wonderful week so far!  My life has been a bit nuts this week.  We are 2 weeks away from our first Girls' Leadership Camp with the Center for Girls' Leadership so I am busy preparing for that!  And, we are 3 weeks away from Give to the Max Day (November 15th - Save the Date!) which I am so excited for!  I'll have more details next week but we have some awesome giving incentives and I hope you all will find time to give to the CGL or another well-deserving Minnesota nonprofit.  

We finally made some progress on the basement too, and I can't wait to share those updates with you.  It's huge.  Life-changing, even.  Let's just say the Jungle Room is no more.  Intrigued yet?

xoxo,
Al


Friday, October 19, 2012

Tidbits: 10.19.12.


My lovely friend Katie's beautiful sister and brother-in-law are featured on Snippet & Ink this week!!  What a gorgeous wedding!

The newest issue of Lonny is out now!



Time Saving Tips.

Eye-opening look at why (sun)glasses are so expensive.

Yummy pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Must make GF version.

Take me here.


Have a fabulous weekend!

xoxo,
Al


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Landscaping Recap.

2012 will be the year without a summer.  Summer is supposed to be spent outdoors, on the lake, at happy hour, enjoying the sunshine.  Instead, we spent most of our summer indoors, studying for the bar.  Not my idea of fun.

But to make sure we were able to get some fresh air, Kurtis and I decided that we would do a little yard work this summer.  And when I say do "a little" yard work, I mean some serious landscaping changes happened around here.

Here we are at the beginning of summer:

May 2012
First up - we tackled the Green Monster.  The lovely tree on the left got a little out of control.  To be fair to me, it was out of control when I moved in from lack of TLC from previous owners.  I knew from the day I moved in that the monster had to go.  And now it's gone!  

Next, we turned our sights on the front beds:


They were full of Lily of the Valley and some other perennial that just doesn't stop growing.  These things were starting to spread all over.  But before taking care of that, we first moved the rhododendron bushes to flank the left bed.  

We also cleaned up the lilacs in the back of the house.  And created a mini monster of stuff to take to the yard wast drop-off site.  I believe we took 8 trips to the yard waste dump this summer.  Yikes!


After the lilacs, we added an additional layer to the fire pit which gave it a little more substance.  I wish we had kept track of all the yard waste bags we filled this summer, but of course, I didn't count them. 


Next up: Hostas!  Hostas are my absolute favorite (besides peonies and irises, of course!).  Can they be any easier to care for?!  

We cleaned up and expanded the hosta beds to give them some room to grow.  Last year, my folks rescued a couple hostas from an old house that was being torn down and I was so pleased to see they survived the transplant!


During the hosta fixin', we also noticed a little bit of a situation:


What the hell?!  We cut down one thing, turn around, and another green monster has taken its place!

So our next little project was easy to choose.   Down came the ugly shrub, and in its place, we have a cute little path to the back yard!  Our goal is to put in a couple stepping stones and keep that area clear.  Just getting rid of that one shrub made such a difference, don't you think?!



One of our biggest projects was adding edging stones to all the flower beds around the house. Kurtis and I had talked about this project and headed over to Menard's to check out the stones.  We had measured and knew how many we needed but I was planning on looking only on this trip.  

Well, 30 minutes later, we were loading up K's car with 135 12 1/2 lb. stones.  The original stones we had picked out were only 3 lbs. each.  Proper planning for this project would have had us loading up Betty, my suburban, but instead the stones went into K's Jeep.  I have never seen car ride so low!  Luckily we made it home and unloaded the stones just fine, but can you imagine if we would have broken an axle or something else on K's car?!

The project was such a success!  I just love how clean it made the beds look.  Like they finally have a purpose and order.  I like order.  I like the grass to be where the grass is supposed to be.  I like the plants to be where the plants are supposed to be.  Slowly but surely, we are getting this yard under control!


After much discussion, we decided that front beds just weren't working for us.  The never-ending mass of uncontrollable plants had to go.  So we ripped out the beds, added some hostas, and put in the edging stones.  Much better! 


Both beds were a pain in their own special way.  On the left, we dealt with all the tree roots from the Green Monster.  On the right, we had about a foot deep of rocks.  Why on earth would you only put rock in one flower bed?  It just doesn't even make sense.  But that is what we are dealing with here.  

This bed is still in progress.  The plants are all gone but we still have some rock to take out.  Luckily, our favorite yard waste site takes landscape rock!  This will probably be a project for spring if we don't get to it this fall.  


The project I loved the most though is our red front door.  We painted the front door red - I just love having a bright door to welcome guests!  With our hanging flower pot (which will not be pink next year to avoid clashing with our new door!), and our amazing coleus, I think our front entry looks pretty cute.  Obviously, we aren't there yet, but it's a good start.

But our summer finale nearly killed me.  The Hedge.  I hate this hedge with a fiery passion.  The only thing good about it is my pretty cardinals find it homey.  But this thing has gotten so far out of control.  I need to scan the photo of the house from two owners before me - it's amazing.  I'll try and get that up soon!

But we needed to tackle this abomination on our property.  Turns out, the "hedge" is Buckthorn, an invasive species that was outlawed in MN in 1930s.  It is illegal to import, sell or transport buckthorn in Minnesota.

Well, we attacked this hedge, rented a U-Haul trailer, and transported our buckthorn to the dump.  Sorry I'm not sorry.  The hedge looks great now on our side and hopefully our grass will grow under there in the spring.  But this is another project that we have not seen the end of.  We really need to top it, but that's an entire weekend project that I just don't have the energy for right now.

Sidenote: we also got our grass back after a summer of road construction!

So there we are.  We've made some serious progress and I'm so proud of us for getting this much done while studying for the bar this summer.  We know there are things that need to be done, but those things need time and money.  

Have you done any landscaping projects lately?

xoxo,
Al









Monday, October 15, 2012

Thoughts on DIY.

First things first:  Congrats to Jazmine, winner of the first Life. Law. Luck. giveaway!  Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their favorite books with me!

This weekend, Kurtis and I started our biggest project yet: the basement.  Start being the key word.  We began clearing out the basement, took Suburban-sized load of furniture and clothes to Goodwill (our second big trip this month) and started another pile for a dump run.





We certainly are nowhere ready for a big reveal but I thought I'd share my thoughts regarding tackling projects yourself.  

Thoughts on DIY (Do It Yourself):

DIY is a lot of work but you have to start somewhere.

Sometimes DIY should really stand for Dang It's Yucky.  Especially when dark spaces, cobwebs, and petrified mice are involved.  My weekend involved all three.

When I walk into Menards/Home Depot/Lowes, I feel so empowered.  I can tackle any project, I can buy all the tools and pieces I need, I am going to spend my weekend kicking DIY-ass.  Then I get home, stare at the project I need to tackle and think, "What the hell was I thinking?!"

The DIY highs are high and the lows are really low.  One makes you feel like you are the child prodigy of Martha Fricken Stewart and Bob Vila.  The other makes you feel like you should just order pizza and call it a week.

I love that moment when frustration hits so hard that you don't know whether to laugh or cry but the next thing you know, you are laughing so hard the tears stream down your face.  This usually happens when you finally get the faucet installed to stop a 10-year leak but end up breaking a part of the sink.   C'est la vie.

DIYers are often given bad advice or are mislead by advertisements or product labels.  DIY becomes immensely easier when you can consult with someone who has been there before and successfully finished the project.

No matter how hard I try, it never looks like it did on Pinterest.


What are your thoughts on DIY?  

xoxo,
Al



Friday, October 12, 2012

Tidbits: 10.12.12

[source]

Saved by the Bell: Where are they now?


A powerful article about a mother's response to her daughter using The F Word.

Added immediately to my list of dream homes.  

I would love to hang this flag somewhere in my house.  via Design Crush.

Mexican quinoa bites?  Yes please.

Reason #9876565183 I am proud to be a Gamecock.

In case you missed it: we passed the bar, I disclosed my love affair with literature, and I shared a little ditty that I'm loving right now.

P.S. I forgot to share with you that Shadow of the Wind has a prequel and a sequel.  I'm reading the sequel right now!

Have a great weekend!

xoxo,
Al


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cruise.

I'm loving this song lately.  Sadly, Minnesota is getting to the point where it's a bit chilly to cruise with the windows down.  Eh.  Win some, lose some.  That only means the holiday season is close!

Don't forget to enter yesterday's giveaway!

Happy Thursday!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Giveaway Time!

Hi!  I'm so very excited to announce today is the first ever life. law. luck. giveaway!  In honor of yesterday's post on my favorite books, I'm giving one lucky reader a chance to win one of my favorite books: Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. 


 As an avid reader, I'm ways looking for the next story that will stick with me.  So here's how you can enter to win:

1. Leave a comment below telling me your favorite book/story.  Please include your email so I can contact you if you win!
2.  Rules - one entry per person, winner will be chosen at random, must be in the U.S. to win.
3. That's it!  Easy!

I'm going to leave the giveaway open until Friday at 10AM CST.  Best of luck!

P.S. If this goes well, we'll definitely be doing more giveaways in the future!


xoxo,
Al

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Love Affair with Literature



Ever since I was knee-high, I been having a love affair with literature.  I started reading  when I was a kid and never stopped.  I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite books with you.  So here we go.  

Five of my absolute favorite books ever (in no particular order):


Beach Music by Pat Conroy
This book reminds me of my days in Carolina and it will forever hold a place in my heart.  Conroy is a true storyteller and even though I've reread this novel a couple times, it never loses its appeal. 

Beach Music is about Jack McCall, an American living in Rome with his young daughter, trying to find peace after the recent trauma of his wife's suicide. But his solitude is disturbed by the appearance of his sister-in-law, who begs him to return home, and of two school friends asking for his help in tracking down another classmate who went underground as a Vietnam protester and never resurfaced. These requests launch Jack on a journey that encompasses the past and the present in both Europe and the American South, and that leads him to shocking - and ultimately liberating - truths. [source]  
Buy here.


The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Truth: This is a book about vampires.  However, as a Never-Will-Read-Twilight reader, I feel comfortable in endorsing this novel.  I felt actual chills when I read this book.  I was transported to a world of medieval history, intrigue, and mystery.

Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of-a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself.  [source]
Buy here.



The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner
I read this book in college and it literally changed my life.  It introduced me to the concept of leadership and how leaders can transform an organization through the five practices: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.  If you are serious about being a leader and want to learn more, I'd start here.

Passionate about leadership and the potential within us all to become exemplary leaders, Jim and Barry have spent over three decades together researching, teaching, and writing about what great leaders do.  They've also had the good fortune to interview thousands of leaders around the world - representing some of the more than 3 million people who have used The Leadership Challenge to help them reach for their personal best.  And they've distilled all of that wisdom and experience down to five clear Practices available to all who accept the challenge to lead.  [source]  
Buy here.





Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan
I literally finished this book last week and it easily skyrocketed to the top of my list.  It's an adult fairy-tale  taking place in a bewitched town where spells and magic exist.  

"Meridia grows up in a lonely home until she falls in love with Daniel at age sixteen.  Soon, they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her charming husband's family - unaware that they harbor dark mysteries of their own.  As Meridia struggles to embrace her life as a young bride, she discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink."  [source]
Buy here.




Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This is probably my favorite book of all time.  I found it while traveling in Barcelona a couple years ago and I am quick to recommend it to others.  It is a beautiful story about stories and those that love them.

At the first light of dawn in postwar Barcelona, a bookseller leads his motherless son to a mysterious crypt called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  This labyrinthine sanctuary houses the books that have lost their owners, books that are no longer remembered by anyone.  It is here that ten-year-old Daniel Sempere pulls a single book - The Shadow of the Wind - off of the dusty shelves to adopt as his own.  With one fateful turn of the page, he begins an adventure that will unravel another man's tragedy and solve a mystery that has already taken many lives and will shape his entire future.  [source]
Buy here.


Check back tomorrow for our first ever giveaway on life. law. luck. and Happy Reading!




Google Affiliate Ads were used in this post.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's Over.

The waiting game is finally over.  Bar results came out yesterday morning and Kurtis and I both passed!!  We could not be more excited!  It is such a relief to finally put our doubts and stress to rest.  

Since the beginning, we could not have done this without the endless love and support of our family and friends.  Near and far, an outpouring of love and encouraging messages have kept us going through the past three years.  So, from the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you.

Thank you for family dinners to keep us sane, gchats during class to keep us awake, cards in the mail to let us know you are thinking of us.  

Thank you for listening to us vent about professors, final exams, and the other crazy people you find in law school.  Thank you for believing that no matter how hard the subject matter, we'd get through it.

Thank you for happy hours, book club, and dinner club to let us focus on the people and relationships that made the three years worth it.  

Thank you for losing us for 2 months this summer as we studied our asses off for the bar.  Thank you for giving us a pass when we were too busy to take a break. 

Thank you for the shots of confidence when we most needed it, the knowledge that we were doing the right thing, and the inspiration that we just might make the world a better place.

Thank you.

And in the end, it's just a test.  Yeah, a really hard one, but nonetheless, it's just a test.  Life goes on.  We are happy and healthy and surrounded by people we love (near and far).  

And in the end, that's what really matters.

xoxo,
A & K





Weekend Workout: 10.6.12.

This weekend, we are doing a Full Body Meltdown from Back on Pointe.  Get your heart pumping!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Tidbits: 10.5.12.

Happy October!




Weird video but loving this song right now:


ESPN's College Gameday is heading back to Cola this weekend!

These books are gorgeous.

What you might have missed this week: We saw amazing leaves, a good movie, and shared a recipe for delicious Candy Corn Chow.


P.S. We're having our very first Life. Law. Luck. giveaway next week.  Get excited!! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Candy Corn Chow.




My book club resumed last week and since we rock it potluck style, I needed to whip something quick after work.  Unfortunately, it was right before we headed out of town so our cupboards were pretty bare.  Lucky for me though, I had enough staples to create this festive little snack!  [Sidenote:  Candy Corn Chow is just a modified Puppy Chow.  Easy peasy.]

What you need for Candy Corn Chow:
Peanut Butter
Butter
Vanilla
Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon
Candy Corn


Ok, here's how easy it is:  

Step One.
Add 1 cup of peanut butter and 2 Tbsp of butter to a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1 minute.  Stir in about 1 tsp of vanilla.  Pour the combination over 6 cups of Chex and mix gently.  

Once the Chex are fully coated with delicious PB, it's on to Step 2.

Step Two.
I use a paper grocery bag to coat the Chex with Powdered Sugar.  Pour 1 cup of powdered sugar into the bag, add the pb-coated chex, roll the bag and shake well.  Each piece should be covered completely.  I don't normally add cinnamon to puppy chow, but my festive fall version demanded it.  Sprinkle cinnamon liberally over the entire batch.  Mix in a bag of candy corn and devour.

That's it.  Modified Puppy Chow or as I like to call it: Candy Corn Chow. 


P.S. My dad loved this stuff.  We were booze cruisin' and leaf peepin' this weekend and he made everyone try the Chow.  That's how I know it's good.  Trust the dad.

xoxo,
Al


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Trouble With The Curve.

I have a thing for baseball movies.  I just love them all.  Moneyball.  A League of Their Own. For Love of the Game. Bad News Bears.  And now, Trouble With The Curve.  

K and I snuck off to the movie theater in Hack this weekend to catch the new Clint Eastwood film about baseball and the art behind scouting.  The movie co-stars Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and John Goodman.  While it may be predictable, it's a solid baseball movie about how the game is played with heart and skill and something more than a computer program will tell you (pretty much the exact opposite of Moneyball).  

If you are looking for a good movie, I'd highly recommend this one.  It just made me happy watching it.  And that makes for a winner in my book!


Have you seen Trouble With The Curve yet?  What did you think?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Peak Week.



The leaves in Northern Minnesota are peaking this week.  And it is SPECTACULAR.  I haven't really enjoyed a real fall in a long time.  I went to school in the South where fall is really cooler summer.  Then with law school, you spend so much time inside studying that you blink and you can miss the leaves change.  So this autumn has been really special for me.  I'm rediscovering everything I love about fall in Minnesota.

We headed up to the lake for the weekend and I couldn't help but take a million pictures of the leaves.  They were just beautiful!  I can never decide if I love the bright yellows best, or the burnt reds, or the fiery oranges.  I really think I just love them all.  Add in a vibrant blue sky and it's heaven.  

Happy fall, y'all!




  






xoxo,
Al

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