Balcony Life

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A few weeks ago my dad and I hauled every last one of my belongings up two very long flights of stairs to a new unit on the top floor. And (after the trauma of moving passed) it was totally worth it for this beaut! I have no idea how I lived without any outdoor space for two years. The balcony life is the best life!

unnamed (1)Morning coffee with a good read, a stack of magazine in the sunshine. I mean seriously–everything is better on a balcony. I picked this chair up at World Market on sale and its surprisingly comfortable for a wrought iron chair–I owe it to the deep seat and curved back. Pretty sure its out of stock now :(

unnamedThere’s not really room for two chairs and 90% of the time its just me. My solution–this stool/table/foot rest! It’s actually a pretty comfy seat when leaning on the railing and its great for drinks or kicking me feet up on.

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Black + White

black and white

Every season I get closer to entirely eliminating color in my wardrobe.Life is just so much easier when all of your clothes go together. And man, I feel so put together when I wear black and white.

When I started thinking about what I wanted for my warm weather wear this year I had in mind a loose, white top–flowy, but with a touch of structure. And a few weeks ago I found just that at Gap! Pair with black skinnies, pointed flats, giant sunnies and feel French (until you get to the office and remember you work in insurance).

Maxi dresses make me feel like a goddess and the extra-long full skirt on this one is wonderful.

I missed out on the spring version of this stripped swing dress, so when the summer one popped up a few days ago straight to my shopping cart it went!

I’ve been wearing the same cut of jeans for a couple years now from Gap, but when I started looking for a white pair earlier this season I tried Gap’s girlfriend jeans and I LOVE them. I’m thinking about a blue pair for fall.

I love a good swing dress. Trying to decide if I can get away with this one at work.

Clever Tees

tees

Raygun | Home T | Hello Apparel 
I’ve had SUCH a hankering for graphic tees lately. I’ve been living in my Home T in public and in a two-sizes-two-small Raygun tee from freshman year in private lately. I want more. so. bad. But I need to stop wearing pithy tees to work and I’m working on the whole being happy with what I have, not spending unnecessary money thing lately. Because I want to buy a couch and maybe condo sometime in the foreseeable (and less foreseeable in regards to the condo) future.

My solution is to blog about all the adorable tees I want to buy instead of actually buying them. Good solution right?! The likelihood of this working is slim…but I’ll keep you updated.

As I mentioned before I seriously heart my Home T. Its so soft, and fits perfect and is long enough to make leggings work appropriate. (Yes–I wear leggings and tees to work and yes–it is questionable, unless I do it on Fridays-Fridays are free-for-alls. Dress Codes are a strong point for me) I want their new home print, because clearly no one yet knows what state I call home.

Raygun is the bom dot com when it comes to being a hip and trendy Des Moines citizen. They’re so darn clever. I saw a little girl wearing the umberella tee at Starbucks a couple Saturdays ago and I was seriously envious. The entire family was sporting Raygun–it was pretty precious.

Even though I’m no longer an Ames resident :(  I can totally vouch for that shirt. The water is the best. I do miss it.

I’m a sucker for the changing of season and spring blooms and fireflies are singing the tune of warmer days to come. And come on–they’re just too cute.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Work in Progress

Chocolate Chip CookiesSo, turns out I’m kind of a cookie snob. Cookies are my absolute favorite dessert–simple and sweet. But it has to be a good cookie. Dry and crumbly–ew. Crunchy, bland or too salty–not happening. And don’t even get me started on overdone cookies.

But when I get a perfectly soft, dense cookie with just the right amount of rich sweetness I feel like I could conquer the world. (Insert slow-mo fist pump here.) I’ve made a few pretty boss batches of cookies in the past several months–but I’ve also scraped my share of flat, burnt or otherwise sub-bar messes into my trash can. I have not exactly reached (can we talk about making raught a word–like teach ,taught, but reach, raught. Do you feel me here? Did I miss a critical part of basic grammar?) a state of consistency when it comes to the chocolate chip cookie. But hey I’m only 23–I’ve still got a few years to figure it out.

Now let’s go back to those perfect cookies. I whipped up a damn good batch last week, so I thought I’d document the greatness to see if could be recreated.

I started with the basic Nestle recipe and made the following adjustments:

  • Butter (not margarine!) softened on the counter for two hours and beat in the mixer before adding the sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar (instead of 3/4 cup each)
  • 2 egg yolks and 1 egg (instead of 2 eggs)
  • Homemade vanilla extract (great Christmas gift from my SIL)
  • 3 cups of flour–added one cup at a time (add the salt and baking soda with the first cup)
  • Added a splash of skim milk with the last addition of flour
  • Half semi-sweet chocolate  chips and half milk chocolate chips
  • Baked on parchment paper for 9 minutes and moved immediately to cooling racks

Do you have any magical cookies secrets? Tell me! Tell me Please!

2014 Reading List

2014 Reading ListHappy 2015!! How did you all ring in the new year last night? I baked a batch of cookies then fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 watching House Hunters. Are you jealous? Good, you should be. Before diving in to just another Thursday the new year, lets take a second to look back at 2014–specifically all the juicy reads I devoured.

One of my New Years’ Resolutions last year  (and I think the only one I kept…) was to read more. I wanted to finish all the unread books I had on my shelf too. I still have a few left to get to, but I’m pretty satisfied with my 2014 reading list regardless.

First off–I somehow missed Everything That Remains in my Reading List posts. I finished it late this summer and it was just as good as I hoped! It’s a memoir written by Joshua Fields Millburn with commentary by his friend, Ryan Nicodemus. The book follows Millburn’s journey to adulthood and eventually to his current minimalist way of life. Its a smart, heart-felt and often funny story of an unexpected journey to happiness. It brings up excellent questions about why we do what we do–how we spend money, how we make money and how we choose to live our lives. I highly recommend! Also, you need to go read their blog, The Minimalists. Do it right now.

2014 was easily the year of Diana Gabaldon for me. I spend almost the entire second half of the year reading her Outlander series. I just started the latest book in the series and I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I finish it–with no more Outlander to read. :(

Even with thousands of deliciously romantic and historically correct story telling pages  from Diana, I think The Interestings was my favorite book of the year.  I was pleasantly surprised by Me Before You and could have passed on The One and Only.

Read all my Reading List posts here.

Holiday Home Tour

Holiday Home TourI love decorating for the holidays! I spent a good part of Thanksgiving weekend helping decorate my parents house, then came home last Sunday and spent the afternoon decorating my apartment–my desk at work is decorated too! There’s a small part of me that wants to take down all my decorations just so I can put them back up again. (Don’t worry I won’t actually do it. I’m not that crazy.) So come on in and take a look around!

Holiday Home TourMy mom has been wanting a bigger tree for years and finally got one this year, so I got her hand-me-down. (score!) It’s a serious upgrade from my skinny 3-footer of Christmases past. I’ve slowly been collecting ornaments over the past few years–a few from Target, several from when I was a kid  and a few from my mom’s collection. I always thought I would have a “coordinated” Christmas tree right out of Martha’s foyer, but I really like my curated collection of new and old!
Holiday Home Tour

Can we talk about how expensive tree skirts are for a minute? I’ve seen several upwards of $40 and even spotted a $90 one–I mean come on! I don’t even spend that on skirts for myself, let alone a fake tree. So with my Mom’s help I whipped up this one for less than $15. We found a plain felt tree skirt at target for $5. It was pretty lame to begin with but I liked the scalloped edges and the price of course. We picked up 4 yards of pom-poms at Hobby Lobby and my mom sewed them on. It’s perfect with the rest of my decor–and I like it much better than the pricier versions I found.

Holiday Home TourI don’t have a fireplace, so my TV stand serves as my stand-in mantle. I decked it out with garland, lights and straw ornaments. I tucked in the trees I found a Gordmans too. I always like to display holiday cards and I think this will be their home. (And yes, I do put out the card I send too. Its too cute not to!)

Holiday Home TourThis string of knit garland is the most recent addition to the merriment. I’ve been pining after them for several weeks, so when they were on sale at Target this weekend I picked up two strings! Holiday Home Tour

A simple centerpiece for my island.

Holiday Home TourI didn’t do much decorating in my bedroom, just replaced a plant with a sparkly silver tree and strung up a few snowflakes in the windows.

See my 2012 holiday tour in my college apartment here.  

 

Christmas Preview with Gordmans

Gordman's Christmas I was so excited when Gordmans invited me to participate in their Holiday campaign this year. Christmas is easily my favorite holiday and I just love this time of year! And this year I have almost twice the space to decorate–so this couldn’t have come at a better time. And Gordmans has So. Much. Holiday. Decor. I don’t know how many times I went up and down the aisles finding something new with every lap.

I usually don’t let myself decorate until after Thanksgiving. Once I let myself start before that I’ll turn into one of those people that have Christmas trees up in August. And no one wants that. But I just had to give all my new goodies a little try-on when I brought them home. Gordmans ChristmasI found so many of these signs! At one point I think I was carrying three around with me before I realized I had no place for the other two. After much deliberation–this one made its way home with me. It’s the perfect little bit of merriment for my entryway. Gordmans Christmas I haven’t decided just yet where these little trees will go, but I just love how sparkly they are when the light hits them. Gordmans ChristmasThis is my favorite find! I can get on board with anything cable-knit this time of year. I’m keeping extra throws in it now and it will be great for toting gifts to my parents house come Christmas Eve–then when it’s time to stow all my holiday decor away I can use it as extra storage. Gotta love multi-functional decor. :)