monday musings | 122

Pippin Hill Vineyard
>> A whole bunch of smaller, lifestyle bloggers that I follow have recently closed their doors. Something about that has been making me feel uneasy because I, too, did the same thing around this time last year. I made the blog private and decided I didn’t want so much of my life to live on the internet. I also struggle with “the need to post” but then get frustrated when I feel like I can’t write a post because I’ve been silent for too long. Basically, I feel like the blog is stagnating and I don’t know which direction to go. I either need to invest more time (try to monetize, get ads/sponsorships, post more regularly) or I feel like I need to shut it down. I’m just not sure an in between option exists. What do you think??

>> We’ve been having some really solid weekends really soaking up the beautiful weather and taking advantage of all things fall. We made some trips out to the country to sample wine and cider as well as spending some quality time outside with the pup.

>> I scooped up a bunch of treasures during the Sephora VIB sale and decided to deem the whole order “totally acceptable because I will just have C put all these things in my stocking”. Done and done. Would you want to see a round up of what I got?

>> We have been getting much more strategic with Christmas shopping lately. We’ll be out somewhere and we’ll pick up a gift WAY in advance of the holiday and then soon enough, we have a whole bunch of loot stashed away in a closet saved up for Christmas gifts. It’s really ideal but can become tricky when you start forgetting what you’ve purchased. What is the BEST holiday gift you ever gave (or received!)?

>> I made my annual batch of party mix on Saturday and it made the whole house smell like heaven. I have already eaten my weight in the stuff but calories don’t count when you’re eating holiday food right?

>> I’m SO excited to head to Baltimore later this week for Thanksgiving with C’s family. It is always such a treat to kick back and spend some quality time with them. We also always see the friend group (and all the kiddos!) which is never boring. I’m already counting down the minutes. We’re also going to have some pictures taken with the pup!

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>> We took advantage of the beautiful weather on Sunday to make a stop at Carter Mountain Orchard to pick up some apples, apple cider donuts, and hot apple cider. It’s so pretty up there and there were still changing leaves! I took home our bounty with plans to make apple butter in the crockpot. It’s really so easy. Here’s what I did:

Apple Butter (in the slow cooker)

  • Add chopped apples to slow cooker (you can leave the skins on) and add brown sugar (to your liking), cinnamon, clove, vanilla, pinch of salt, and some lemon juice. 
  • Cook on low for 8-12 hours depending on how many apples you have (you really can’t over cook – I did this overnight).
  • Blend apples with an immersion blender or traditional blender until very smooth. 
  • To make thicker, cook for another hour on low with the lid ajar. 
It came out so delicious!! No need to buy it ever again and you can flavor it however you like. It’s great on toast, waffles, oatmeal, ice cream, or even with a spoon!

>> Haven woke up with this horrible cough on Sunday that we thought might be kennel cough. After a trip to the vet though, she got a clean bill of health! She’ll be headed back in a few weeks for “the big operation”.

>> Pop over to my instagram if you want to see my new lavender highlights!

>> My first ThredUp bag was sold and I made $65! I already have another one on the way in now that I’m transitioning to a capsule wardrobe.

>> Speaking of capsule wardrobes, I’m really excited about this. I’ve always wanted to try it but felt like it was previously too complicated. Now that I work from home, I felt like this was the perfect time to simplify. My wardrobe for the next 3 months now consists of about 20 sweaters and tees, 5 pairs of pants, 5 pairs of shoes, and two jackets. Interested in seeing a full post on this? Let me know!

>> I’m really excited that after a brief hiatus in the kitchen, I’m back at it again and feeling re-inspried to get out my cookbooks and plan for the week. This weekend I made Jessica’s Turkey & White Bean enchiladas and they were SO delicious. Just as good as leftovers as well!

>> Along with cleaning out clothes, I have been seriously streamlining my makeup. I have a thing for hoarding lip products but I finally tossed a whole bunch that I don’t love or were past their prime. I had an old tube of Clinique’s Black Honey from SEVERAL years ago that had to go but I loved the color. As a replacement, I picked up a tube of W3LL People’s color balm in Fig and it is total perfection.

monday musings | 120

>> We’ve been traveling a lot of work lately which has been made exponentially more difficult with the dog. Luckily, we take her to a great place for camp during the day but if someone can’t pick her up by 5:30 then we have to make other arrangements. It’s been stressful and exhausting but it’s probably a good preview for years to come. I also got some great advice from a friend who said “you can make anything easier by throwing a little money at the problem”. Which is exactly what we did and it was so worth it.

>> I’m in serious clean out mode around clothes, makeup, etc. I sold a whole bunch of gently used makeup on Glambot and made a decent amount of money considering I would have just thrown it away. I’ve sent in two bags to thredUP but I’m still waiting to hear what the payout will be. I’m on a serious mission to own less but higher quality. Anyone know where to get HIGH quality long-sleeve t-shirts that won’t shrink?

>> I’ve been loving the gym that we joined shortly after moving here. It’s right next to C’s office which makes it super easy since we share a car. I’ve been particularly enjoying the Barre classes and after chatting with the Group Ex director, I decided I’d pursue becoming an instructor! Last weekend, I completed my Barre Certification and will start instructing classes at the gym soon!

>> I just got on Snapchat and I don’t really get it. I like the idea of having 24 hour “stories” but how do I remember to download them after each 24 hour period?? Please someone help me!

>> You may have guessed this already but the half marathon did not happen. Instead, I ran the 5k with my mother-in-law and had a blast. It was her first ever race and she ran the whole thing! I’m so proud of her and really enjoyed getting to share that experience. C, on the other hand, killed the half and now has his sights set on 26.2!

>> C and I picked up new iPhone’s this weekend and when I got home, I was testing out the new features and some things weren’t working. That’s when I realized they had set me up with an iPhone 6 not 6 s. They happily made the exchange in the store but without the phone in stock, they had to give me my old phone back in the meantime. #firstworldproblems

>> Haven is almost 5 months old now and she’s such a great puppy. She’s really doing well with her training and usually sleeps until about 6:30/7am. We hadn’t been letting her on the couch until all of a sudden she figured out how to get up and it was so cute, I couldn’t push her off. So Haven 1, Couch 0.

>> I normally don’t talk much about work around here but I did want to mention that I accepted a role on Teach For America’s national team which I’m thrilled about. I will continue working from home which is awesome and I’m really excited about staying with the organization.

monday musings | 119

Haven // our new spring spaniel pup

>> I feel like if I don’t start off by talking about our new puppy, you’ll just be really disappointed. So yea, we got a puppy and it has changed everything. Honestly, I’m positive that my expectations for how this was going to do down were completely unrealistic. She’s great and we love her but holy exhausting! We’re very lucky that she sleeps through the night but she can be a handful during the day. Now that we’re starting week 2, I’m hoping to get a semblance of a routine back. 
>> PS. I just want to put this out there – I do NOT think a puppy is preparation for a baby for the following reasons (plus some): 1) babies wear diapers, puppies do not…ew, 2) you can speak to children/babies and reason with them, 3) you can take your baby with you most places, 4) however, you cannot lock your baby in a crate…so there’s that. 
>> There is NOTHING better than some good friend time to get those batteries recharged after a particularly tough day/week. I had the immense pleasure of seeing a dear friend this past weekend and also got some quality phone time with a few other friends. I needed it so badly and it made my heart feel good just to be loved, heard, and understood. Thank you sweet friends!
>> Between traveling, being sick, our out-of-whack schedule etc. half marathon training is NOT going well. While I’m slightly concerned about this race that is now about 8 weeks away, I’m also trying to give myself some grace and say “what the heck, who cares how much I walk!”
>> Back to the dog thing, if you have one, what treats/food/toys etc are the most motivating? We’ve yet to find a treat that really gets Haven going. Help! 
>> We love going to the local farmer’s market on Saturday to browse and get a few items for the week. We even have a “fish guy” now who is awesome. He gave us a great tip that has totally transformed how we cook fish. He basically said, you should always cook your fish straight from the freezer, no need to defrost. He said not only will it limit your chances of overcooking it, but it’s actually safer. Well we tried it and we loved it. It’s also so much easier because the fish holds together much better. 
>> Now that I work from home, I’ve been getting really into the morning news like Good Morning America and the Today show. It’s kind of funny because so much of the news is repeated and honestly, I’m more just watching because I like the anchors and their personalities…not really for the celebrity gossip. But it’s become a nice ritual and I feel like they are keeping me company in the morning.

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This is real life for ya!
>> Look who’s back in action! We’ve been living in Charlottesville for about three weeks now and we’re really loving it. The house is about 90% set up and my little home office is really coming together. We’re settling into a routine which feels really nice. Nothing like having a clean slate to really get things in order. We joined the gym next to C’s office and we’ve really been liking it, especially all their classes. (We did an epic hour and 45 min yoga class on Sunday morning, whoa). 
>> I signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon and starting this weekend, I’ll have 12 weeks to train. I’m basically doing couch to 13.1 here but you know what, I just need a little race incentive to get my butt into gear. Additionally, because we have such easy access to this gym, I think I just need to pick a great show on Netflix and binge watch while I do my runs – any suggestions? 
>> We’ve been doing a decent job cutting way back on carbs and making some super easy and delicious lunches and dinners (recipes coming soon!). I made this amazing Carrot, Sweet Potato, Red Lentil soup out of this book and we’ve loved it. A old standby favorite is traditional meat sauce and we normally put it over spaghetti squash but since that’s not in season, I got my hands on a spiralizer (just a cheap $6 one) and made a whole pile of zucchini noodles. It was so delicious! 
>> Ok so like I said, we’re doing a DECENT job of healthy eating…but we did also join a cider club which I’m super pumped about.
>> The move forced me to REALLY cut back on all the beauty supplies which feels so freeing. I’m no longer a Birchbox subscriber (I know, it had been 5 years!). I’m looking forward to simplifying things a bit in my morning routine especially because I’m now working from home. I also discovered a great site where you can order samples of luxe beauty products but YOU choose the samples which I love. More to come on this…
>> Speaking of working from home, I’m really enjoying it so far. I have been able to be super productive especially now that I have the dedicated office. I don’t really go in there on the weekends which makes it feel more like “work” in a good way. I got a beautiful desk and chair that are working great. I’ll do a full office post soon once we get everything hung on the walls. 
>> Each year, I go back through all our photos and make a photo book that commemorates that year of marriage. It’s such a sweet reminder of all the fun adventures we had and it also ensures that our pictures make their way out of the computer and into our lives. I know these books will be really special as the years go by. (Hard to believe we’ve already been married for 2 years!)
>> Oh, and we’re getting a puppy in three weeks…

thoughts for friday

>> C graduated! We had such a great weekend with family celebrating this impressive accomplishment. I’m incredibly proud of him for achieving this goal and for pursuing his dream no matter what. It’s hard to believe we only have about five weeks left in New Haven (only 2 for C!). We’re trying to soak up as much quality time with our friends as we can. I’m actually surprised by how bittersweet this move feels – we’ve made some really dear friends over the past two years and I know we’ll be sad to be moving to far away from each other. 
>> I discovered No More Dirty Looks several months ago and have loved catching up on posts, diving into all things natural beauty. I’m overjoyed to be featured on their site as part of their “Morning Routine” series. 
>> Really obsessing over these new lipsticks from Clinique. The colors are perfection and the formula is SO creamy and hydrating, yes actually hydrating. The color lasts so long even when I was drinking coffee (not through a straw). Run and pick up a few colors (I have Sweet Pop and Melon Pop). I also randomly picked up the original Bare Minerals foundation on a total whim and I’m really liking it!
>> I finished reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and was so inspired that I immediately refolded all my clothes following this method. I’m thrilled to say that they still look the same even after a whole month! My clothes are happier and so am I.
>> Still on a podcast kick especially for walking/running because they hold my attention much better than music. I’ve also been really enjoying them in the car as I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately.My favorites lately include the One Part Podcast, The Wellness Wonderland, and Elise Gets Crafty.
>> I’ve finally collected a massive amount of “empties” (products I’ve used up) which is seriously satisfying. Knowing I’m collecting them has also helped give me the motivation to finish up a lot of stuff. That post is coming very soon, I promise!

monday musings | 117

>> Did you catch this secret, late night post from yesterday with some big news?? No, no babies.
>> We had some friends over for a big southern brunch this Sunday which was so much fun. I made all sorts of delicious breakfast delicacies such as chicken & waffles (with spicy honey!), grits, bacon, biscuits, and a sausage hash-brown egg casserole. C manned the bar with some homemade bloody mary’s and we also served housemade cold brew coffee. Everything turned out great and it was such a treat to have all our friends in one place for a few hours. I’m pretty bummed that we’ll all be parting ways in a few weeks.
>> I picked up the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops during the Sephora VIB sale and I’m SO glad I did. I loved the premise and after watching several videos, I had a feeling they would be a beauty favorite. In short, they are pure pigment drops that you can add to any products you already use like moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, primer, and even oil. They are free from all the offensive ingredients which I love. So far, I’ve loved them best mixed with my primer but it also works well mixed with moisturizer to make my own custom tinted moisturizer with my desired level of coverage. 

The adorable place we’ll be renting in Charlottesville!

>> I was in New Orleans two weeks ago on a Teach For America Leadership Journey. It was SUCH an incredible experience and exceeded my expectations. There were a lot of really great moments but one that really stands out was getting to eat at Dooky Chase and meeting Ms. Leah Chase herself. She is such an incredible woman and being in her presence was awe-inspiring. 
>> I didn’t know it was actually possible to be obsessed with a pen (or a set of pens) but it has happened. I was introduced to these pens by Ms. Caty Gray when we were in NOLA and I don’t understand how I lived without them. Just do yourself a favor and buy a pack pronto.
>> I’ve been through so many eye primers…apparently I have the world’s oiliest eyelids. But finally, Urban Decay came through with this stuff (I have shade Enigma). So good. So matte. Great coverage. 
>> I said I would report back on my experience with Twice (selling clothes online). I sent 18 items in my first bag – 10 were accepted and I was offered $67. Considering what I sent, I was pretty happy with that. I also appreciated that they provided you with feedback on the items they didn’t take so that I know for the future. I would definitely recommend it.
>> Last weekend, C and I went to the city to see a play based off my all-time favorite book from high school, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The play was SO good, everything from the stage, to the lighting, to the acting, all the way to the adaptation itself. Just amazing. Go see it if you can.
>> Now that the weather is shaping up, I’m determined to get outside more regularly for a run/walk situation. I’ve been really into podcasts lately (send me recommendations!) which will keep me totally engaged for a solid 45 minutes. I also got new running shoes (and a great fitting!) which makes working out that much more fun!