Whiskey Cake

Back at the beginning of April, Eric and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary.  That seems so crazy to type.  It hardly seems possible it has been twelve years.  He brought me two dozen roses, one of the white roses went in our wedding vase and the rest I placed in my milk glass vase (my favorite, it was my mom’s).  And the roses were beautiful.  I just learned last year that the white roses are apparently hard to come by, so he has to special order them every year.  I had no idea!

We usually go out to eat for our anniversary, and it seems the last few years we’ve gotten in a rut of going to the same place over and over again.  It’s really good, but since we were going for birthdays and anniversary, I decided it was time for a change.  I’ve been wanting to take him to a restaurant called Whiskey Cake.  I had gone there a couple of times with coworkers and I knew he would love it, but they don’t take reservations.  Since we are typically going on a Saturday night, it always kind of frustrated us that we couldn’t make a reservation.  But, I suggested that we just go early and try to beat the crowd.  So that’s what we did.


Whiskey Cake is a local restaurant that has a couple of locations and they are a farm to table restaurant using locally sourced ingredients, including their own herb garden on site.  Their menu changes seasonally, as you would expect.  And everything I have had there is delicious.

One of the things I really love about this place is the decor.  Love the French ticking stripe napkins, the repurposed lightbulbs as bud vases with a sprig of fresh rosemary inside, the industrial napkin rings, etc.

So, what did we order?  We couldn’t pass up the fried green tomatoes for an appetizer.

For the entree, Eric decided to have the duck breast.  He loves duck but very rarely has the chance to have it (and have it prepared well).  It had a carrot-ginger puree, heirloom carrots, red onions, kale, and a citrus vinaigrette.

I opted for the OMG Burger, which stands for onions, mushrooms, and goodness.  I had to leave off the M though (allergic).  But it has a beer battered onion ring on it, muenster, grain mustard, red chile mayo, lettuce, and tomato on a challah bun.  How good does that sound right now?

And of course, we had to have their signature dessert – whiskey cake.  It is a toffee torte with bourbon anglaise, spiced pecans, and fresh whipped cream.  So so so good.  And I admit I have attempted to make whiskey cake and it tastes nothing like this.

We had a lovely dinner, and a lovely anniversary.  And I’m so glad that I finally got the chance to take Eric to Whiskey Cake for dinner.  Definitely check them out if you are in the area!

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At the Met

It’s been a long long while since I talked fashion here, hasn’t it?  I recently saw photos from this year’s Met Gala and just had to share a few of my favorites.

This year’s theme was Heavenly Bodies and as you can imagine there were quite a few variations on the theme.  By far my favorite dress of the night was this one.

This is Blake Lively in Atelier Versace and Christian Louboutin heels. I just cannot get over how gorgeous this is.  The color, the detailing, the silhouette, the train, everything.

Another favorite, Emilia Clarke in Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda and Christian Louboutin heels.

I loved this one as well.

This is Stella Maxwell in Moschino.

Rihanna never fails to bring something amazing to the table. Minus the headpiece, I loved the look of this.

Rihanna is wearing an intricately embellished mini with train and matching shawl-collar coat (all Maison Margiela Artisanal); Christian Louboutin heels, a custom Judith Leiber clutch and jewelry by Cartier, Gilan, Maria Tash, Konstantino Jewelry and Narcisa Pheres.

And while this is not a dress, I thought it was gorgeous. Compared to the rest of her family, Kendall Jenner looked beautiful and classic (although I could have easily said classy).

Kendall is wearing off-white Virgil Abloh off-white Jimmy Choo heels and Tiffany & Co. jewelry.

I loved this dress when I saw it from the side and back. It has such an interesting profile to it. And I love the color.

This is Diane Kruger in Prabal Gurung.

Unfortunately from the front, it loses all its appeal. I hate the shape of the skirt and I don’t care for the headpiece.  I really don’t love the heels either.

Love this…

Gigi Hadid wore a stained-glass effect Atelier Versace gown with a rainbow angel wing across her body, Christian Louboutin heels and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry.

Loved the color on this.  This looked very Greek goddess or possibly a bit of a Renaissance feel.  This is Amanda Seyfried in Prada.

Cynthia Erivo wearing Valentino and a custom Maria Tash septum ring and Maria Tash earrings.  I love the color and cut on this.

Keltie Knight in Paolo Sebastian. Wonder what the words say on the skirt? You know I can’t pass up the stars though. I love me some stars.

Lily Aldridge in custom Ralph Lauren and Bvlgari jewelry.  I absolutely adore the color of this and the neckline.  Especially with the diamond and emerald necklace.  What I don’t love is the sleeves and the collar.

Mary J. Blige in Versace.

Ariana Grande in a sky blue gown with a seraphic motif and bow veil atop her bun, plus Butani jewelry. Hate the bow. Love the dress.

And finally, Priyanka Chopra in custom Ralph Lauren and Cartier jewelry. This is rather simple, but beautiful.

It’s always interesting to see the dresses at this event and this year did not disappoint!

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Tending the Garden

After my last post, I thought it might be good to share a little more of my work in my Power Sheets and how that is transforming into what I do currently.

In the Power Sheets, once you’ve identified your goals you start to break them down into smaller focus areas quarterly, monthly, and weekly.  Here were some of the things I wanted to keep in mind for the first three months of the year.

And once you put together your focus for the three months, you then move to focusing on the month ahead.  As part of the monthly goal-setting, I identified some things to remember.

And then, keeping in mind my big goals for the year and also what I want to pay attention to this quarter, I started to brain storm about this month’s focus.

I knew that the key to reaching your goals is tending them daily.  Without doing that daily check in and daily doing tasks to move that goal forward, you’ll never realize it.   The time will pass and then you’ll be wondering where the year went (ask me how I know this!).  So, I took that brain storm and filtered it into a clear action plan (ie tending list) for the month of March.

This keeps me on track with monthly goals (that feed into my quarterly and yearly goals), weekly goals, and daily goals.

What I struggled with though, is that because Power Sheets aren’t (and aren’t intended to be) a planner.  I was having to work out of both my Erin Condren Planner and my Power Sheets.  Which got a little unweildy at times.   So, I decided I needed an easier way to keep track of those daily habits I was wanting to cultivate.  My weekly and monthly goals, I could keep in my planner so that I could refer to them frequently.  But, my daily habits were getting lost in the shuffle.  I did some searching online and found this great printable habit tracker from Sparkle of Sunshine.  I liked being able to see the whole month at a glance, and monitor how I was doing with my habits.  What I know now is that I was setting myself up for failure.  Not because I was tracking my habits, but because I was trying to start like 20 new habits at one time.  I’ll talk more about that next time.

As I’m finding my way and identifying what works best for me, I feel like I’m better able to keep my goals at the forefront and not just let the days go by and wonder why I didn’t accomplish those goals I’d set for myself in January.  I love Power Sheets for how they get you to brain storm and dig in and identify what those goals should be, I just needed a better way to keep them in front of me and easily accessible without working in two or three different set ups.

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One Little Word

 

I talked a little bit in my last post about goal setting and what I had planned for in 2017.  My word for 2017 was Transformation.  Which, although it didn’t manifest itself in quite the way I was expecting, it really was a transformational year.  I let go of a lot of things, I learned a lot of things, and I came out the other side.

For 2018, I had a hard time coming up with my “one little word” to describe all that I had in mind for the year and all that I wanted to achieve.  But, finally in mid-January I found it – Limitless.

 

I truly feel like I could not have chosen a better word for where I am right now.  It has all the potential and opportunity that is before me within it.

So, my next step was to take a look back through the prep work I did in 2017 in my Power Sheets and reassess my goals.

And when I looked at last year’s goals, what I found was that they were pretty much the same goals I want to achieve in 2018.  So, I thought I’d share them here.

My 2018 Goals

  1. Be an open channel (stop jamming the signal) through clean, healthy, uncluttered living.
  2. Pour love into my marriage.
  3. Grow my business authentically and in alignment with my purpose – lead by example.

So, there they are.  And on the face of them, they seem pretty simple but they encompass so much.  And in a way I’m really glad that they withstood the test of time and they are still arrows fully pointed in the direction I want to go.

So, then the next question is – how do I do that?  How do I turn these goals into reality.  Simple – an action plan.  So for each of these goals, I came up with actionable steps I could take that breaks them down into smaller bites.

And funny enough, just writing this post and again looking at my 2018 goals has got me geared up to get moving.

In my next post, I’ll take a look at how I break those big goals down into smaller goals – quarterly, monthly, and weekly.  I’ll also talk a little bit about why I needed a different method for tracking my goals.

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Begin Where You Are

It’s January – almost the end of January* – and I’ve been (like most people) trying to outline my goals and what I want to accomplish in 2018.  As part of this, I’ve spent a good amount of time looking back at 2017 and realizing that I started off strong and then completely went off the rails.  And what I’m realizing is that this is a typical pattern for me.  So, instead of getting too bogged down in what went wrong and instead of beating myself up for not having met all my goals last year, I’m just going to pick it up from here and move forward.  Begin where I am, as it were.

So, for 2017 I invested in Lara Casey’s Power Sheets.  I’ve been following Lara for awhile and thought that I’d give her approach to goal setting a try.

One of the things I appreciated about her method is that you start planning the year before.  So in November, which is about the time of year I start to get energized and thinking about goals, is exactly when she starts doing her PowerSheets prep posts and videos.

In doing the prepwork, she has you take stock of where you are, what last year looked like (good and not so good), and setting a course for where you want to go.  Here’s part of what I wrote about my story:

I lost my way.  I was overcome by fear and insecurity.  I cocoon myself as a protection, but instead it muffles my divine guidance and communication.  I get caught up in busy and distraction.  I want a purpose-filled life.  Authentic.  I am not here to be small and fearful or mediocre.  I can teach by example.  I can show others how to live a life out loud.  I can share my awe and wonder of the world and teach others how to live their best life.  

There were so many powerful words like those above that tumbled out of me and into my workbook.  And when you’re done going through the first set of worksheets, she has you go back through and highlight or circle the things that stand out to you – those things that resonate.

And the thing I realized in doing that is that everything I need is within me.  I know where I want to go and how to get there.  I just have to tune in, listen, and take action.

I chose my word of the year: Transformation.  It seemed fitting.  And I put together a vision board to visually steer me in the right direction.

I worked through distilling down my thoughts, recurring themes, and intentions and set my goals for 2017.

  • Be an open channel (stop jamming the signal) through clean, healthy, uncluttered living.
  • Pour love into my marriage.
  • Grow my business authentically and in alignment with my purpose – lead by example.

By looking back at the work I did preparing for 2017 and the goals I set, I’m seeing that not much has changed for me in 2018 – the goals are still relevant (with some tweaking) and the groundwork I laid is still beneficial.  I’ll be back in my next post to share more about breaking down these goals and putting together an action plan that will carry me forward through 2018.

*I started writing this post in January, but as evidenced by how 2017 went I didn’t get back to this post until March.  (note to self: Procrastination is the thief of time.)

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On My Bookshelf: Both Ends of the Spectrum

P.S. I Love You stack

I promised to tell you about the books I cheated on Thea Devine with.  So, after failing miserably at trying to read books I had at home rather than library books and realizing that if I don’t have a good book in my hand I’d rather not read, I went to the library.  I decided, ok let’s test this theory.  Am I just burned out on reading or is it the books that just aren’t that good?

So, at the library I picked up P.S. I Still Love You, The Girl on the Train, and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I figured that two of the three were sequels to others I’d read and enjoyed and Girl on the Train I’d been wanting to read forever.

P.S. I Still Love You

First up, I decided to read P.S. I Still Love You first.  It is a sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which I talked about in this post.  I started this on June 14th and finished it three days later.   This book helped me determine that my reading slump was book-specific. I easily zipped through this book, enjoying every page of it. It was just as good as the first one, if not better. Recommend.

 

Girl on the Train with Coffee

After that I decided to give The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins a go.  I picked this one up on June 18th.  I’m probably six months behind everyone in reading this, but it was worth the wait. This book was well-written and kept me guessing right up to the end.

Girl on the Train

I was afraid this book was going to be a watered down version of Gone Girl, but it wasn’t. There is a similar feel to the story (in a “if you like Gone Girl, you’ll like Girl on the Train” kind of way), but it is a very different book. I highly recommend this one and will look forward to reading more from Ms. Hawkins. I read this one in five days, finishing it on June 23rd.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

And finally, I read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  I picked this one up on June 26th.   This book is also a sequel (to Anna and the French Kiss that I reviewed here).  I so enjoyed this book. While it didn’t have the benefit of being set in Paris like Anna & the French Kiss, it more than made up for it. I read this in three days because I couldn’t put it down. And strangely, aside from being a good story with excellent writing and great characters, the book gave me food for thought – how I can balance those different parts of myself that seem so incongruous, how you can live out loud in vibrant color but still feel small inside, and how the people that care about you can see past the mask and really know you.

These books spanned both ends of the spectrum – young adult romance to a suspenseful thriller.  And thank goodness they also showed me that nothing stands between me and a good book, but if given a not so good book I’d rather do anything than read.

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On My Bookshelf: Landlines and Lifelines

Landline

I’m back to share more from my bookshelf with you today.  When last we left our heroine, she’d put herself on the wait list for Rainbow Rowell’s Landline because she’d pulled it out of her TBR jar.  And then she waited.  And waited.  And finally, the day came when the email arrived saying her book was ready to pick up!

I started Landline on May 9th (remember this is 2016 we’re talking about – because our heroine is behind on her blogging) and finished it on the 14th.  I really enjoyed this book.  Rainbow’s books are always so well-written and enjoyable.  And, they are all so different. This book reminded me more of Attachments and less like Fangirl or Eleanor & Park. I love her complex but relatable characters and this storyline. Well worth a read!

After finishing up Landline it was time to pull another book from my TBR jar.

Landline and TBR Jar

And out of the TBR jar came…one of my wildcard free slips.  So, since I had checked out Feverborn (read my review of it here), I went ahead and counted that as my wildcard.  Then I decided that since I was on such an awesome reading streak, maybe I should try to read some of the books I have sitting at home.  So, I picked up a book that had been luring me – A Café on the Nile.  I started it on 5/24.  The author is a member of The Explorer’s Club, which I am fascinated by, and the book is set in Egypt.  What could be better?

Cafe on the Nile

Well, yeah.  Notsomuch.  I tried.  I really did.  My reading slowed down to a snail’s pace.  So slow in fact that I think I’d pretty much given up reading.  So, after a couple of weeks I decided to give something else a try.  Maybe I just wasn’t into this book?

So, I picked up another book on my bookshelf at home – Beyond Desire.

Beyond Desire

I started it on June 8th and attempted to read it for about a week.  This book was supposed to take place on the Orient Express, it was supposed to be steamy, it was supposed to be good.  Well, I ended up taking a break (more on that next time) and then picked this back up around the 29th of June.  Finished it on July 7th.

Once I picked it back up, re-energized, I enjoyed the story and it kept my attention. I enjoyed the journey by Orient Express and eluding the followers and the search for clues about the bracelets. I think this book would have been much more enjoyable without the sex scenes. They were ridiculous, and overburdened with words like transmogrified, termagant, profligate. I also found that I occasionally had a hard time following whose thoughts and feelings she was describing because they flipped back and forth. I think Thea Devine’s writing would be better served with more attention to how the erotic scenes fit within the whole of her story.

If there’s one thing that these last two books taught me, it’s that my reading appetite is voracious, when given a good book.  When given a book that isn’t doing it for me – I’d rather not read.  But, I have found over the past months that reading for me is indeed a lifeline – I need it.  It keeps my brain working and my creativity flowing.  It keeps me well-fed.

More next time on the books I cheated on Thea Devine with.

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On My Bookshelf: Burning Love

Cozystyle Library Book KMM Burned

I’m back to share my May reads from 2016 with you.  My library streak continued and I was excited to pick up Burned.  Feverborn had already been released, so I was itching to get through Burned  and jump into Feverborn.  Burned was so good! I started it on May first and finished it up on the 8th.  And I was glad that I checked Feverborn out of the library to have on deck when I finished this one. Moning has a way of blowing my mind even when I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. It took me way longer to read this one than it really should have, but that’s what a busy schedule does to my booklife. I do feel like I should have gone back and reread Shadowfever before starting this one, since there was such a big gap between when I read that one and this one. Although Iced was a recent read, there were definitely things about Mac and Barrons that I was a little fuzzy on, so a refresh probably would have helped.

And I just have to share this photo from @greenletterday on Instagram.  She posted up these fantastic skeins of yarn with the caption:  “Some of my favorite book heroines in yarn form: Miss Lane, The Mega, and Smokin’ Jada by the lovely @houseofalamode.”  When I first saw this post I thought “ok, but who’s Jada?”  After reading further I left her the comment: “So…when you posted this I had no idea who Jada was.  I’m currently reading Burned.  So when I got to Jada, I was like ok now I know who Jada is.  But a few chapters later…and now my mind is blown about Jada!!!! Now I seriously need this yarn trio.”

Well, needless to say, I could not start Feverborn fast enough.

Cozystyle Library Book KMM Feverborn

And, as is often the case with KMM’s books, I find that she has the ability to pierce right through to the truth of things that goes beyond this story, beyond these books, and I nod my head and think “girl, I feel you.”

Cozystyle Library Book Quote KMM Feverborn

But seriously, I read this book (and it’s a thick one!) in about a week.  Why do I have to wait so long for the next book???? Love KMM, love this series, love the characters. This book was no different from the others in that my reading of it was complete and utter engagement – they make me cry, they make me miss my own sister, they make me want to throw the book across the room, they make me gasp in surprise, they make me talk back to them (and as much as Dani annoyed me in Shadowfever, these books even have me yelling “Dude!” at them). If you haven’t read these books – go right now and read them. Seriously. If you gave up after Shadowfever and had no interest in reading Iced (that was me), suck it up and go read Iced so that you can read Burned and then this book. Seriously, go.

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On My Bookshelf: Mysteries, Love, and Tasting Stars

Landline slip

I’m excited to share the rest of my April reads today!  So, after I finished Eleanor & Park, I went ahead and drew another slip out of my TBR jar.  I think I only had two Rainbow Rowell books in there, and I pulled them both back to back?!?  So, yes, Landline.  I went online and checked to see if it was available at the library since I hadn’t seen it there when I went last time.  Sure enough, it was checked out.  So, I placed a hold on it and figured I’d just wait until it popped up.  Meanwhile, I decided that maybe I should actually read something I own.  So…I picked up a book I’d started (barely) and never finished.  Someone recommended the Aunt Dimity books to me a thousand years ago and I went on a quest to find them at used book stores and actually think I have most of them.  So, I thought this would be a quick, enjoyable read and I was not disappointed.

Aunt Dimity's Death

I read this in a little under a week.  Although the book was written in 1992, it’s really rather timeless.  This was the perfect cozy mystery for the rainy days we were having here – a great book to curl up with. I definitely recommend this read, and I’m definitely saving Beth’s oatmeal cookie recipe to try.  Plus, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

No word on Landline yet, so I headed back to the library to pick up a couple more books.  Since I seem to be reading them in about 3-5 days, I thought I was safe checking out three this time.  I can’t even begin to tell you what finding the library has done for me.  It’s like the library opened up this whole world for me that I’d forgotten existed.  It renewed my love of reading.  It awoke that voracious reader I used to be.  So, I went back to the library and here’s what I got…

Second round of library books

I started with The Fault in Our Stars.  I pulled it first so that in case I didn’t like it I had two more choices.  So…this book.

Fault in Our Stars

I had really written this book off some time ago because what I knew of the plot was not something I really felt I had the emotional energy to deal with. After losing my dad to cancer, the last thing I really was interested in doing was reading about people with cancer.  Ultimately though, FOMO may have prompted me to pick it up at the library and give it a shot. I attempted to reserve judgment throughout the first third or so of the book and even posted that I wasn’t sure how I felt about the book yet.

I am tasting the stars

John Green ensnared me with the language and the dialog between Hazel and Augustus. I loved the way they spoke and interacted. But, despite my best intentions to keep the characters at arm’s length and to keep my emotions firmly disengaged, I failed miserably. This book is so well-written and definitely worth the emotional investment.

Fathom into constellations

“My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations.”

 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

After being completely and utterly wrecked after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I decided that something lighter was in order.  I’d heard really good things about Jenny Han’s books, so when I stumbled upon them at the library I quickly added this one to my stack.  I’ve previously read a short story by Jenny Han from the book My True Love Gave to Me. I really enjoyed this book, and Han’s writing. It’s full of sweetness, teen angst, learning to venture out into the world, and the bonds of sisters. Looking forward to reading the next book.

In my next post I’ll share my May books, including Burned.

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On My Bookshelf: Library Love

Library

In April, it occurred to me that I was getting nowhere fast on my TBR jar or on my Goodreads Challenge to read 25 books in 2016.  Four months into the year and I’d read…three.  And while I love buying books, I have way more than I really need and hate to just continue adding to the problem.  And then, it hit me.  What about going to the library?  I’d half-heartedly looked into the possibility of being able to check out ebooks through my libray, but didn’t really understand how it worked and it looked suspiciously like my library wouldn’t actually be able to do that.  But, surely I could check out actual books, right?  So, off I went.  I got my first library card in like twenty years and went directly upstairs to the YA section to see if I could find any Rainbow Rowell books.  And lo and behold, they had some!  And lo and behold they had Eleanor & Park!  Woohoo!

Library Books

 

I came home with two books that day.  I wanted to check out all of the things, but figured if I’ve only read three books in four months I should probably assume I can’t get through more than two books in the three weeks I had to read them.  Of course I started with E&P first.  I’ve read a couple of Rainbow Rowell books before (Fangirl and Attachments) and loved them.

Eleanor

“Eleanor was right: She never looked nice.  She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

I read this book in basically three days. Rainbow Rowell may well be one of my favorite authors. I love her writing, I love her characters, I love that she makes me feel like I felt at sixteen. I love that she made me dig out mix tapes I haven’t listened to since high school/college. I love that although her books are shelved with the YA books and that at first glance they appear to be nothing more than a simple romantic love story – it’s the complexity of her characters and their inner thoughts and feelings and struggles that speak to me. Each book I read of hers becomes my new favorite. If you haven’t read her books, you should start one today.

Eleanor and Park

 

After finishing Eleanor & Park, I started Anna and the French Kiss.  So many people had recommended this book to me (probably because of my love of all things Paris and romances), so I was happy to find it at the library.

Anna and the French Kiss

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in about three days because I had a hard time putting it down. A story of an American girl sent to the American School in Paris who begins to fall in love with the city and a boy. I loved her passion for cinema (a passion I share) and the exploration of Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, etc. made me long to return there.  I have so many regrets about my time in Paris – so many things I didn’t see or do – and this book just made the city come alive for me again.  This one was well worth a read and I’m looking forward to reading her others.

Anna and Eiffel Tower

I’ll be back next time with more books!

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