Thursday, December 23, 2010

Indianapolis ...

J. and I flew into Indianapolis on Sunday and we've been relaxing and catching up with friends all week.  We even made it to the gym one day!  It has been WONDERFUL.  I was worried about the snow and cold weather but, to be honest, it hasn't bothered me all that much.  Maybe because I know I'm going to warm and sunny Houston in a few days?  Perhaps.  Anyways, here is a recap of what we have been doing ... and my absolute favorite places in Indianapolis.

We've been watching the Twilight Saga ... no, I am not joking.  I was given the books as a gift this summer and I have to admit that I LOVED them.  My mom owns the movies and we had a marathon ... and even J. admitted that they were good.

We had dinner with friends at Mesh on Mass Avenue.  Afterwards we headed to Mass Ave. Pub for drinks and were promptly kicked out because my friend was throwing spitballs.  And no I am not joking.  It was immature but hilarious.  And it ended up being a good thing because we migrated to one of my favorite bars, Chatham Tap, were we ate their delicious breadsticks and ran into the owner of my hair salon, Salon Orange Moon.  I waited too long to make an appointment before our trip and my stylist was booked up, but when I ran into the owner she very graciously offered to squeeze me in for a trim.  It is much needed and much appreciated!  If you are an Indy local you should check out the salon!

We had lunch at Moe's with my old roomie.  And then I headed back to Mass Ave. to do some last minute Christmas shopping.  I made my way to The Best Chocolate in Town.  Their truffles are to die for.  So so so good.  And they have that's made with Sun King's Wee Mac Ale.  I might put making truffles on my 2011 To-Do List.  I went to Silver in the City to pick up some fun gifts and stocking stuffers.  And I couldn't go to Mass Ave. without stopping in Three Dog Bakery and picking up some treats for the girls.  Santa was good to them :)  Afterwards I had coffee with my old hairstylist ... well, she's kind of my current hairstylist since I haven't been getting my hair cut in Washington.  I'm afraid to let someone new touch my hair!  She's 36 weeks pregnant and so cute!  

I had sushi with my bestie's tonight and then we stopped into The Usual Suspects where we had my absolute favorite cocktail of all time ... The Pearl Jam, made with Pearl Plum vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.  Do try it!  (If you live in Washington, they sell Pearl Plum vodka at the state liquor store!)

Tomorrow I will be indulging in Hobby Lobby and Von Maur ... two fabulous stores that we don't have out west.  I love Hobby Lobby and everything is usually 50% off ... I am hoping to find some cheap holiday decorations!  And we will be ending the week with dinner at Adobo Grill ... home to the best fish tacos I have ever eaten!

I hope all of you are having wonderful weeks and good luck to all of you who are doing some last minute shopping!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Belated Birthdays ...

I have FAILED as a blogger lately.  And not just because I never finished my “Favorite Things” week.  I let two very important birthdays go by last week without acknowledgment!  Well, at least without blog acknowledgment.  Anyways, better late than never, right?  So … HAPPY BIRTHDAY (one week late) to my Grandma Barb and my bestie, L.Rae (you might remember her from her Labor Day visit).  They share a birthday, on December 8th, and they are both VIP’s in my life.

My Grandma and Pop-pop have lived in the same house my entire life, just a block away from Lake Michigan, and it’s been like my second home.  My sister and I used to visit when we were little and play for hours in the basement.  And we’d go visit our favorite place in Chicago, The Shedd Aquarium, to see the dolphins and the sea otters.  My grandma must have taken us dozens of times, but she never complained about seeing the same We were lucky enough to live within driving distance of them for the past 10ish years and were able to see them often.  We also spent holidays together ... my mom would host Thanksgiving and my grandma would host Christmas.  This is the first year that J. and I are so far from home and it’s been weird to be so far from our families and deviate from our "normal" or traditional holiday plans.  This is also my first official year as a "grown-up (if there is such a thing)," and I know they say change is a part of growing up, but it doesn't make it any easier!

At J.'s Commissioning (back in 2007!)

The Mother, my uncle, aunt, Grandma & Pop-pop on a whale watching trip in Mexico

My grandparents house last Christmas ... looking beautiful with a fresh layer of snow!

L.Rae and I went to Purdue together … we had a mutual group of guy friends, but we weren’t actually friends.  You know how that goes.  Girl groups never like each other.  Then, I decided to study abroad one summer in Florence.  And guess who was going on the trip?  L.Rae.  She was the only person that I even slightly knew, so we decided to meet up on the way over there.  We met in the Frankfurt airport and, in true L.Rae style, she showed up minutes before the flight left.  She’d been sleeping somewhere in the airport, but I, of course, was freaking out because I was sure I would never find her.  Once we got to Florence, we found out that not only were we on the same trip, we’d been assigned to the same apartment.  It was a three bedroom apartment and there were 5 girls, so L.Rae and I decided to share a room and the rest is history.  Since then, we’ve traveled all over the place (and been llost all over the place) and I couldn’t ask for a better traveling partner (or friend).  Next up … Alaska!  Mostly I love L.Rae because I can be pretty ridiculous at times and she takes it all in stride ... and she's never afraid to ask the hard questions or tell me exactly what she thinks.  I'm so glad I'm finally back in the same time zone as her :)

J. and L.Rae dancing through a plaza in D.C.

Easter 2007 ... spent in the tulips :)

At the Palace of Versailles in France

Doing what we do best ... skipping around the gardens

Sight-seeing in London

At Muir Woods, outside of San Francisco

"But L.Rae, there's BEES!"
Wine tasting in Sonoma, CA

Picnic-ing in the San Juan Islands 
(I told you we were travel partners in crime!)

I hope that both of you ladies had very special days and next year, I promise, I won’t be a week late J  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Favorite Things - Accessories

Okay so I am a day late ... whoops.  I started an (unpaid) internship this week and I haven't had a lot of free time ... so sorry about the late post!  Day Two = Accessories!  Who doesn't love accessories?  I'm doing non-jewelry accessories because, let's be honest, if I added jewelry to the mix, we'd be here all night.  

Smart Wool Cozy Gloves/Mittens:

I got these as a present for Christmas last year and they are the warmest gloves I have ever owned ... aside from ski gloves.  And, this year, they came out with mittens!!!!  I love mittens.  Sadly, I only have the gloves but maybe Santa will bring me the mittens?

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hobo: 

I LOVE this bag.  It's the perfect size and it's classic.  I've carried it for almost two years ... first in the beautiful purple color and then in the classic black.  I carried the black one today, in fact.  It's a bit pricey, but worth every penny ... especially since I imagine I will be carrying it for years to come.

Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon tote:
I own this little beauty in black ... but I think this one is pretty cool too:

This bag is perfect for everything ... toting stuff to work, going on an overnighter or taking as a carry-on on the plane.  And there's even a great line of little bags that go with it ...

Spanx control top tights:

You MUST own a pair of these.  So, if you don't, RUN to Nordstrom and go pick up a pair.  They may seem pricey (I think they are about $26.00), but they seriously last forever.  I've worn one pair for two winters now ... no joke.  At the rate I get runs in regular tights, these are worth it.  

Hope you are all having a good week ... did I miss any major accessories that I MUST get?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Favorite Things - Apparel Edition

I've decided to do a "Favorite Things" themed week here at From the Midwest to the Northwest ... part Oprah, part Christmas Gift Guide (wait, didn't I already do one of those?), part look inside my closet/cabinets.  The only rule is that it has to be an item that I currently own (and LOVE).  Hope you enjoy!

American Apparel V-Neck Tees:

This is my most favorite item of clothing, hands down.  And no, I do not generally wear mine with pink leggings ... but do what you want with yours.  These t-shirts are soft, comfortable and fit well.  I wear them all the time ... to hang out, work out, sleep, run errands, etc.  The best part about adding this to my favorite things post ... I just remembered that I have a $50 American Apparel Groupon to use!!!  Someone on my list might be getting some tees for Christmas ...

Black Puffy Vest:
I don't own this particular vest (it's from The North Face), I got mine on super sale at the J. Crew outlet one year after Christmas.  I LOVE it.  I wear it at least once a week.  It's super warm, hides your love handles and you can change it up by putting cute tees underneath it.  What more could you want?

Ann Taylor Loft V-Neck Cardigan:

I LOVE this cardigan ... seriously.  I have it in 3 or 4 different colors ... I can't remember at the moment. Unfortunately, Loft won't let you copy their images so you'll have to click here to see the sweater.  

Citizen of Humanity Ava Straight Leg Jeans:

Mine are actually denim not gray but ... you get the point.  I practically live in skinny jeans in the winter.  You can't really wear bootcut jeans tucked into boots!  These are my favorites ... they fit well, they are dark enough to be dressy, and they are super comfortable.

Knee socks:
This cute pair can be found here.

I love knee socks.  I feel weird admitting that out loud, but oh well.  What's not to like about them?  They are fun and come in millions of great designs.  My particular favorite are stripes.  You can get knee socks at many places, but I've had the best luck at J. Crew, the Gap and a great place I found in Wallingford called The Sock Monster.  They don't have a website, but they sell "Sock it to Me" brand socks, visit their website here.  They won't let you copy their images either (what is with places these days?) or I would have posted all the fun pairs I own!  

Victoria's Secret Lacie Thong:

Once I started wearing the Lacie, I quit wearing every other pair of underwear I own.  I might as well dump them in the trash can.  At 3/$30, I think they are a bit pricey (I like the 5/$25!) but they are VERY similar to the Hanky Panky thong and a much cheaper alternative.  And I think more comfortable.  It's a win-win situation.

J. Crew Perfect Fit Tees:

I love this tee.  It's super versatile, comes in tons of colors and if you have a J. Crew outlet near you, you can get it for under $15.00.  I own this shirt in 5 different colors (are we sensing a pattern here?  I own all of my favorite things in multiple colors) and usually wear it under my black puffy vest or short sleeve sweaters or my Colts jersey.  See, I told you it was versatile!

As I write this ... I'm wearing a royal blue J. Crew perfect fit tee with my black puffy vest and my COH Ava jeans ... and Chucks.  Which are another one of my favorite things, but I'll talk about them in the shoe edition.  Stay tuned ... 

Disclaimer:  I am in no way being compensated by any of these companies for blogging about their products.  They most certainly have no idea who I am and have never heard of my blog.  I just love their products and thought I would share.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Ideas

Happy December Friends!  I couldn't let the holidays go by without helping you out with your gift giving!  Just kidding.  But here are a few things that I think would make great Christmas gifts for the fabulous people in your life.  Remember, I'm on a budget, so nothing too fancy here.

1.  I like to trade my credit card points in for gift cards ... either to give directly to someone or for a store I know I want to buy someone's gift from.  I hate to toot my own horn (and I may have gotten this idea from my mom so I might be tooting her horn), but I think this is a genius idea.  You use your card all year, you accumulate points and then you trade them in for presents.  And then giving gifts isn't so expensive.  My credit card uses the Thank You Network and some of the gift cards I will be trading my points in for are Starbucks, iTunes and Sephora ... and they have tons of other great stores too! 

I am in LOVE with these super cute bags from Gussy.  These would be perfect for your mom, your sister, your friends or your co-workers.  Especially at $14.50.  Buy a little pouch, pop in a gift card to MAC, Sephora or some other cosmetic store and it's a great little gift.  With a theme.  Sigh.  I love themes.

3.  Magazine subscriptions ... this is the gift that keeps on giving!  And you can get really good deals online ... or even with your credit card points.  Here I go again with those darn points, but seriously who doesn't love giving free gifts?  The Thank You Network offers a pretty good selection of monthly magazines and they cost around 2,000 points, which is not that much.  Amazon also has pretty good deals on magazines ... I wrote this post about getting a year's subscription to Real Simple for $10.00.  And there's a magazine out there for everyone ... just get creative ... there are great food, travel, beauty, fashion, organizing, scrapbooking, crafting, etc. magazines out there!  
4.  Books make great gifts as well ... and can be relatively inexpensive.  A couple of years ago, I gave all my best girl friends "Eat, Pray, Love."  I read it that year, LOVED it and thought I would share it with them.  Amazon and are two great places to look for books at a discount or check to see if you have a Half Price book store in your area ... that place is AMAZING!

5.    COFFEE.  Now, I may be biased since I live in the coffee capital of the world, but I think coffee is a great gift.  Get a nice travel coffee mug, ceramic perhaps, and a gift card to Starbucks and you've got a great gift.  Or pair it with a package of Starbucks VIA Coffee.  The recipient will be thanking you for weeks to come.  I found this ceramic mug on Amazon for only $10.25:

6.  There's an App for that ... For the iPhone/iPod lover in your life ... these are too cute:

7.  For the crazy pet lover in your life ... 

If you aren't on a budget, don't forget these all would make great stocking stuffers or gifts for Secret Santas!  What are your favorite gifts for the holidays?  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What we're eating this week ...

We've been going non-stop since the beginning of November so, this week, we are trying to relax and stay at home as much as possible.  Which means ... meal planning!  It's been easy because J. is getting an extended Thanksgiving Break.  A water pipe burst in the simulator building and the sims are down!  It's been handy to have him around the house!  Here is what we are trying this week:

Sunday night - we tried Brooklyn Girls Penne Arrabiata, which J. found on  It was DELICIOUS.  And it made a TON of food.  We will definitely be eating Brooklyn Girls Penne again.  

Monday night - we made homemade pizzas, using The Pioneer Woman's pizza crust and this simple pizza sauce.  We topped it with mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms and basil.  It was delicious.  I must say that I've always thought making your own pizza was something that you did with a Boboli crust and store bought sauce ... but making your own crust is so darn easy.  And the sauce was even easier.  I highly recommend both.  

Tuesday night - we will be having leftover chili that I made while J. was in Key West last month and put in the freezer.  We will also be having homemade corn muffins.  It's amazing how easy (and cheap) it is to make things that you usually buy at the store!  

Wednesday - Leftovers.  We have a refrigerator full of pizza, penne, and pumpkin cheesecake.  They need to be eaten ASAP!

Thursday - Tacos or Sliders ... right now I feel like I should not eat either, but ground beef was on sale at the grocery and I have a freezer full of it.  And, let's be honest, both sound good.  Who doesn't love a good slider?

Hope you have gotten rid of your Thanksgiving leftovers (another good thing about Friends Thanksgiving -- little to no leftovers!) and are eating well this week!  Any new recipes for us to try?