Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a... Vaguely Greenish-Brown Christmas...


The moon has been huge lately, hanging in the sky like it's trying to climb down to us. The air's got that chill to it, too, and things are going brownish and drab all over. Ah, winter. Of course, this is still South Carolina even if we are a stone's throw from the mountains, so things are pretty green, too.

I remember Jason being a little surprised at how colorless Illinois can be in the winter, when it snows and the leaves are all gone, and all you've got are gray sticks of branches against a gray sky over a gray-white ground, all the way to the horizon... which you can clearly see because everything is flat for miles around.

In contrast, I was surprised by how green South Carolina remained, my first time here in the winter. The leaves are basically gone, sure, but there's still green grass or leaves on bushes.

I am eating grapes and good cheese and tortilla chips for dinner, because I am a grown-up and can eat whatever I want. Winter (and the holidays) bring on and indulge the worst aspects of my already ridiculously overactive sweet tooth, so I'm trying to stuff myself with fruit and pretend it's the same thing.

I'm about 40% successful with this endeavor so far.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...


CHRISTMAS.

IT IS TIME TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS.

This is our sole contribution to holiday decorating this year. It is not DIY or homemade. It was bought at a store and anything that isn't wood is plastic. I could have done an eco-friendly wreath or made one myself or painted stuff or whatever, but I just wanted to have a holiday wreath, you know?

I've never had a wreath for us before. We moved out of dorms into apartments, each of them too small to justify any kind of serious holiday storage, and the last one too small to justify 3/4 of the stuff we did have in there. 

Now we have some square footage to work with, and it's our house and we want a wreath, damn it.

So we have a wreath!

Jason is pretty excited, too. Christmas is more exciting when you feel more able to really get into it. I don't know if I entertained or embarrassed him with my interpretive dance along to "Feliz Navidad" while we were shopping at Walmart tonight, but since he taught me the correct words I suppose he was really condoning my behavior if you think about it.

This is all his fault somehow. Give me time, I'll figure out a way.

We'll settle for the wreath this time, but we plan to do a kind of mad Supermarket Sweep of holiday decorations once Christmas is over and everything gets discounted. Well, we don't need everything. I'm mostly thinking the bare basics - a doormat, a tree, some lights. I do want our tree to only have ornaments that were presents from others or that we made ourselves.

You know...

Unless it gets to next year and I just decide to buy some plastic.

My parents' visit was great, and as usual I didn't actually take any pictures. I was a little too busy enjoying myself to remember pictures! We had two big family dinners (although one was... well, we probably constituted our own army at that one), took Mom and Dad around downtown Greenville to see our favorite shops and try a couple of new ones, took them to eat at that Greek place Jason and I liked so much...

It was a good weekend!

Now... 26 days until we're in Illinois!

And hey, as a side note. For Greenville shoppers, you might try Southern Fried Cotton - it's a new apparel store downtown. They have Clemson and USC shirts, of course, some really neat designs that I thought were a little nicer than your average college shirts, and lots of designs for Greenville! And if you have a hunting dog, they kind of specialize in shirts that have different dog breeds on them - labs and whatnot. It was a pretty cool store when we visited, and we're big supporters of local business in Greenville. Or in general.

Given a chance, you should always support your local business!


Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

vintage thanksgiving card available here, on etsy.

Sorry it's a little belated; my parents are in town! They were supposed to land in Greenville around noon... we ended up picking them up at the Charlotte airport at 4 o'clock and getting them back in town for Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws at 6:30. They're here, and they're safe, and that's all that matters... but wow we could have done without that fog in Detroit!

We're getting ready to drive 'em around Greenville... and later there's another dinner tonight, because one Thanksgiving is never enough...

Everyone remember to make sure and visit your local small businesses today and tomorrow for Small Business Saturday!

Greenville has plenty of local businesses who would love to help you find gifts for your family members and friends, so don't overlook them just because the big-box stores are having a sale! 

I probably won't be back on here 'til Sunday, so I guess I'll see everyone then... have a good weekend!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Heron


Saturday morning when I got to work, Jason and I spotted this guy. He was hanging out at our millstone fountain in the garden, walking delicately over to inspect it for food.I stopped and snagged a couple of (terrible) photos. He spotted us pretty quickly.

By the time we'd gone in to put my stuff down and make coffee, he was gone.

Today, Jason and I decided to have a date day. We went to a home decor store and started in on our plans for Christmas decorating, hit up B&N for coffee and a book (and donated a book for their book drive! If you're over there, you should do the same!), grabbed lunch at Trader Joe's, I made sad faces at things I want at Old Navy, and we went to the movie theater to see the new James Bond movie!

Which is awesome, by the way. Completely awesome. Plus the soundtrack to this one was really kicked up a notch. It's a long movie at nearly 2 and a half hours, but unlike the last Bond movie I really felt like this one needed the time to tell the story. Every single actor was on their A-game in this one. Plus, nobody answered their phone and only one person was texting, and he had the grace to be ashamed of himself and try to hide it.

After the movie, he went over to an art & craft supply store so I could grab a few canvases and new sketchbook. I've been drawing again, so I thought I'd consider taking back up painting. If things seem to be going well after a bit I'll work on making my own canvases again.

Oh, and we grabbed a couple of frames, too, for some Carl Sandburg poetry sheets I grabbed when we visited his house in October. We were able to get sheets of my two favorite poems of his, prints that have the poems in his actual handwriting.

Maybe one of these days I'll even be a real adult and go buy some freaking wall paint.

Maybe if I just keep talking about it often enough...


Saturday, November 17, 2012

5 Things - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

photo from Monique Guerr.

THANKSGIVING.

It's beginning to look a lot like THANKSGIVING.

I know what all of you were thinking, and it is not time for that yet.

Except that I found a few neat Christmas-y things and now I am going to torture you with them.

At least I'm not attacking you with Christmas music... so far. Well, except my friend Jamin.

I have already attacked him with Christmas music, because I had "Winter Wonderland" stuck in my head and I do not suffer alone, I make others suffer with me.

So for this edition of 5 Things, I am going to rattle all that latent Christmas stuff around in my head and make you suffer through it with me.

Except for my mother, who will not suffer through this so much as she will revel in it. This is, after all, the woman who once left a Christmas tree up into February.

Now she tell you that it was because we were hardly home for Christmas and didn't even get to enjoy it and these things are meant to be enjoyed and besides, it looked really pretty lit up at night.

She will also point out that when Dad wanted to take the Christmas tree down, I argued on her behalf in favor of leaving it up. In my defense, I was fourteen and mostly just didn't want to deal with having to help pack up all the ornaments. Also I like Christmas trees.

I'm sorry, it's genetic. I can't do anything about it. Blame my mom.




1. This set of greeting cards from the Kate & Birdie Paper Company. I like the muted Christmas colors and the little rooftop design.

I also like these other three designs as well! Although that last one is a valentine, not a Christmas card. Really, I just think that the cards are really gorgeously illustrative and you all know how I feel about illustration.

(for those of you who don't know, because why would you know this? I'm a fan. 'Illustrative' is the best description one can give of the artwork I make myself.)




2. I want these agate stacking boxes from Lille in my life. And on my coffee table or shelving units. Or maybe as a kind of bookend on a bookshelf...

 We want to paint the house is kind of muted, dusty desert colors (I am thinking a brick red for the living room?) and I think boxes like these would go really well with the walls. I could also stash knick-knacks in them.

No, not new knick-knacks. I think I've been put on a knick-knack moratorium. I think I'm also supposed to stop saying the word 'knick-knack', but I truly I am a rebel and I shall say it anyway.

I could keep my interesting small things in these boxes and I could both have my piles of rocks, postcards, old coins, shells, and whatnot and could also pretend to be a minimalist... until I open them.



3. I found a list of 101 Handmade Gift Tutorials over at everythingetsy. If you're wanting to do a DIY or handmade Christmas this year (and I know a ton of people are), everythingetsy put together a seriously big list of gifts bloggers and others have come up with for ideas.

I like the sisal rope bowl, the monogrammed coffee mugs, and the locket art.

Everythingetsy also has Holiday Gift Tutorials, Green Gift Tutorials, all kinds of things. You should go click through whichever one catches your interest, because I would like other people to be in the same position I'm in of losing way too much time perusing craft ideas I'm not sure I have the energy to accomplish.





4. Speaking of craft ideas...

I want to make this wreath! I found the DIY on Family Circle, though it's not so much a set of instructions as a simple list of encouragment. I want to make it and spray it with SO MUCH fixative so I can hang it outside on my door. Tell me this isn't kind of a cool idea.

Go on, I'll wait.

...

That's right, you can't.

Because it is a cool idea.

Nyah.




5. Deer sweater! I want this awesome thing off of etsy to have for my very own. I like Christmas and winter sweaters a lot. I rarely have an excuse to wear them, though, especially now. This isn't super Christmas-y though, so I feel like I could wear this the whole time it's even remotely cool every year in South Carolina. So... November through January.

That's enough time for it to be worth buying, right?

... right?

Ah well.

A woman can dream... and this woman dreams about reindeer sweaters.

All right.

Now that you've all sat through my little holiday madness, I'll let you wander off to think about literally anything else.

But I'll still be here, plotting ways to get Christmas songs stuck in the heads of everyone I know.

I'm like a James Bond villain, if Bond villains were really dorky.




 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Few Things

I know I skipped my usual Wednesday post. We've had a really busy week and I just never felt quite like sitting down to really type up anything (even if Wednesday just consists of sticking a photo up here, maybe with a caption, and running off to whatever it is I'm up to that day). Tuesday we had dinner at my in-laws, last night some friends on their way up to D.C. needed a place to crash, tomorrow we've got a Book Club meeting at a local restaurant... it's just been a week of Stuff to Do.

Next week my parents are coming into town for Thanksgiving, so Jason and I have lots of picking up to do around the house, food to buy for Annual Eat Til You're Sick, Then Eat Again Tomorrow Day... well. There are lists, that's all I'm going to say at this point.

So many lists.

In any case, this is the first chance I've had to sit down and see if I've got anything for you.

So here are a couple of photos I've taken lately. Or a few photos, I guess, since there are more than two.

Several photos?

...

Let's not get into this. My brain, she is too tired for the grammars tonight.

.


.


.


.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Ramblings


I made these jalapeno and pepper-jack cheese scones today. I've had them pinned on Pinterest forever and just finally got around to actually buying the few ingredients we don't just have on hand today. They are about as delicious as I expected, which is to say that they are all kinds of delicious. I am also thinking that just using the dough would make great dumplings in a chicken-and-dumplings soup. I am also thinking about making some black bean soup for dinner.

Because soup.

It being Monday, I'm not exactly racing all over the world. I like my Mondays to be low-key when possible, and we've been busy enough the last few weeks that I've really needed Monday for house-stuff and some personal downtime.

And also, I suppose, for making things I found on the internet.


Speaking of, I've decided to try this trick (also found on Pinterest, because that is where I find things lately) for making your T-shirts feel really worn and soft. Supposedly it will recreate a more vintage look/texture. I'm trying it on the T-shirt I bought as a souvenir from when we stayed at the Fryemont Inn in October. I'm supposed to leave it in there for roughly three days and then wash it with only a little bit of detergent.

We'll see what happens. If it works you might see photos of me in the shirt here!

If it doesn't, uh... we'll never speak of it again.

Oh! I wanted to add to everyone's favorite recurring theme on this blog, Let Me Tell You a Story About How I'm Weird.

I thought I would relate to you all the interesting fact that if I sneeze while I'm driving, I always take my foot off the gas and put it over the brake. When I was learning to drive as a teenager, I used to be really terrified that I would sneeze while driving and my foot would slam on the gas pedal in reflex, and then I would cause a multi-car pileup with flames and explosions and people running in circles screaming.

So I trained myself, painstakingly, to make sure my foot moved before I sneezed, over the brake. If I feel a sneeze coming in I always try to get into the rightmost lane, too, so I can go off the road if I have to. That's part of what I trained myself to do as a teenager. At the time it seemed like a pile of common sense to do that. In retrospect I think it's another in a long line of things I like to call why did I worry about that?

It's become such a habit I don't even notice I'm doing it anymore, except that today I actually thought about it and remembered the way I used to force myself to remember it when I was younger.

If only I had some useful good habits I was so good at keeping to.



I'm also scouring a few magazines trying to find some good ideas for a food-or-DIY-themed Christmas. I think I've already found a cool idea for how to make kind off an offbeat-looking door wreath.

We're planning to buy a little 2-foot Christmas tree. We've got a couple of ornaments - one that was a wedding present that is sort of a "yay marriage!" themed thing, a couple of personalized ornaments. My plan is to not buy any ornaments, but make a few to cover the rest of the tree. Maybe some garlands or something.

I don't know.

I vowed to myself that when I became a homeowner, I'd let myself give in to the lure of seasonal decorations. We never had them as apartment-dwellers because moving every year made storing decorations annoying - it meant we had to move boxes of decorations every August, and I was trying to add as little as possible to the pile of stuff we carted around to us.

(I say this as I look at bookshelves full of books, many of which I've bought in the last year)

In any case, I kind of skipped over fall decorating, but I want to do some Christmas stuff.

And then spring/Easter.

And then fall again.

But... we'll just start with a sparkly little Christmas tree.

... and see how long it takes the cat to declare war.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tender Greens & Winter Is Coming


First things first, it's Veterans' Day here in the United States. Have you thanked your veteran today?

In vaguely sad news, we're starting to hit that point where the leaves are mostly off the trees and this whole 'fall' thing starts turning into 'winter', also known as the season of "where did all the color go? COME BACK TO MEEEE."

So that's less exciting.

In news that is exciting, it is my niece Delainey's fifth birthday today! And it's only 42 days until I get to see her (and most of my family) again! My parents will be coming into town for Thanksgiving in a week and a few days, so I'll get to see them then!

Today, at least in the early afternoon, it was gorgeous outside so Jason and I ran downtown. We needed to hit up the Main Branch of the library anyway, so we figured we'd go early and just walk around enjoying the sunshine. This was a good plan, except that we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We sort of simultaneously realized we were hungry, and were trying to think of a place to eat.

I remembered reading in the newspaper something about a new place being just a little further into the West End than we normally go, and we found it! 



It's called Tender Greens. (For locals, it's a little past Mellow Mushroom - maybe two doors down). It's a Greek-influenced soup, salad, and sandwiches place. For passerby, they have their menu posted in the window directly below the contents of the photo above, so you can see what you're in for. I'm always up for trying somewhere I've never been, so we decided to walk in.


For one thing, I love the decor. The tables are these big wooden slabs, really solid. Some of the original woodwork is still there, too, along with some really cool old wooden shelves that had sort of an array of Greek basic cooking supplies; olive oil, various and sundry preserved vegetables, that sort of thing.

I got Sprite to drink and Jason had some of their lemonade.

I ordered some of their shrimp soup to start.


Look at that. It is creamy and delicious, almost a bisque, and they must throw the shrimp in at the very end like you're supposed to, because they basically fall apart in your mouth. It's super lemony and herb-y. Is good soup. Both soup came with lime on the side, but I just dunked my whole lime in.

They actually went ahead and gave Jason a bowl of their other soup on the house!


Lentil soup was the other soup today. It was the great deep, warm flavor you really expect from lentil soup, which makes me wonder why I don't buy more lentils because they don't just make soup, they make soup. I bet I could type soup several more times before I got tired of it.

Soup soup soup.

Soup soup.


I was in a Greek place. It was required that I eat dolmas. The little side dish order of them came with four, but before we even remembered to take a photo we'd already started to split them... so we did the best we could. The dolmas were great; the rice was completely cooked, almost like a risotto inside, and they were very very lemony.

Turns out I like lemony dolmas.

Everyone wins.


Jason had a kind of beef sausage pita sandwich for lunch. It came with a Greek salad (read: red onions, olives, tomatoes, om nom nom) and potato chips on the side. I had a bite; the beef sausage was great. I wasn't super in the mood for meat (we'd made homemade Egg McMuffins for breakfast, so I kind of felt meat-ed out).

I was kinda feelin' salad-y.

Cue the salad.

This was the "Fresh Date Salad", mixed greens with feta cheese, fresh date pieces (that would be what your brain wants you to think is bacon up there), walnuts, and herbs. The dressing was a really nice, super simple olive-oil-and-vinegar. I was not expecting the sheer amount of salad I received on this plate. It even came with a warm pita, presumably to mop up the dressing left over at the end.

When the owner came over to ask if we wanted any dessert when we were done, we mostly just groaned our protest more than we said it. I kind of wish that I'd snagged some baklava to take home, though. Baklava made by hand is one of life's great treasures.

The prices were really reasonable. With one cup of soup (since they gave us the lentil soup on the house), an order of dolmas, a sandwich plate AND a salad, we came to less than 25 dollars, so with tip you've got a thirty-dollar dinner date right there.

Everyone wins.

The clouds were rolling in by the time we ran to the library and came back, and now it's starting to get chilly again.


I've even got my slippers on.

And since we ran out of hot chocolate I am seriously considering making more coffee.

What?

I don't have to go to work tomorrow.

And this pumpkin spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts may actually be the secret treasure of El Dorado, because it is the best pre-ground coffee I have ever had.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Twofer


It's true. I did. 
And if you've known me for longer than ten minutes, you probably know who I voted for.



Also, leaves.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why I'm Not a Fashion Blogger, Part 2

You'll forgive the brevity; I'm typing this on the way out the door to work.
 
In any case...
 
Why I'm Not a Fashion Blogger, Part 2
 
 Socks: a little boutique my friend Sarah went to
Shoes: Target.

... because this is my current favorite shoes-and-socks combination.

Socks: SmartWool, bought at Mast General
Shoes: Old Navy

... or maybe this is my favorite.

Either way, I think my point stands.