April Highlights + May Goals

Long unintentional breaks seem to be my forte lately, which fortunately have led to the realization that I truly miss this space for the creative outlet and life documentation it provides me. In no means am I committing to a specific number or types of posts per week as in the past, but I am committing to getting back to sharing travels, adventures, and ideas when they happen and time permits. For the past two months, we’ve been fortunate to travel to a few new places, explore the nooks of our own neighborhood, and learn to relish in the simplicity of everyday life. Here are a few highlights from the month of April as well as a few goals for the month of May.

1. Start and finish our 2013 New Zealand scrapbook
2. Take a whole weekend day to explore West Seattle
3. Read a biography or memoir
4. Watch at least one movie from either this list or this one
5. Utilize the farmer’s market to finally decide my favorite flower
6. Run 3 times a week each week
7. Learn a new two or four person card game
8. Set up a savings account for completing items off my list
9. Make one more recipe from this book
10. Sign up for either a sewing, flower arranging, or cake decorating class

April Highlights

1. After 1 1/2 years of living in Seattle, my brothers were finally able to visit
2. Tiptoeing through the tulips at Roozengaarde Display Garden
3. Backpacking to Shi Shi Beach and getting to watch this amazing sunset
4. Forgoing traffic to take long walks home
5. Hiking up an extremely steep incline to Mailbox Peak in unexpected feet of snow
6. Getting spoiled rotten by Georgetown Cupcakes on Store Administrator Appreciation Day
7. Taking time to explore our neighborhood
8. Trail runs spent stumbling upon little friends
9. Small, simple details gracing our brunch table

Book Review x 6

I was born with a reading list I will never finish
– Maud Caseym –

My new position at work has given me many perks: a “normal” workweek, access to serious designer steals, and the forced opportunity to ride the city bus. Although my new commute allows for an hour of uninterrupted reading time five days a week, I still feel like I’ll never even come close to reading everything on my wish list. Fortunately though I was able to cross these six off my reading list last month and am already tackling this with this on deck. What book are you currently escaping to?

March Book Review

If I Stay by Gayle Forman – A snow day from school turns into a spontaneous family road trip to visit family nearby, but in a split second a horrific accident shatters Mia’s world and leaves her forced to make an impossible decision to leave or to stay in her new but broken life. Recommended to me by a few friends, I was anxious to finally start this book, which had me hooked until the last page and had me immediately starting the sequel. The question of “Is this life worth living without those you love in it?” had me positively reflecting and questioning my relationships, purpose, and ambitions. 

Where She Went by Gayle Forman – Picking up three years later, the sequel to If I Stay switches narratives to Mia’s boyfriend Adam and voices his thoughts, feelings, and struggle with the consequences of the life changing accident of book one. Both books were started and finished within two days, enough said.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling – Get the inside scoop of life on The Office set, what she really thinks makes the perfect best friend, and how to stay the perfect amount of famous in Hollywood. Reading this memoir felt just like what I imagine conversing with Mindy in real life would be like: hilarious, all over the place, witty, fun, and endearing.

The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki – Everyone knows the disgrace the name Benedict Arnold carries with it, but few know the woman standing behind him and the influential role she played in his treasonous behavior. Get to know Miss Peggy Shippen and how her fight for fame and fortune almost destroyed the American fight for freedom. I adored how this book was narrated from the maid’s perspective and that the author shared her inspiration and discussed reality vs fiction at the end of the book. They always say “behind every great man stands a great woman” so what does that say for the wife of Benedict Arnold?

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – From the author of “The Husband’s Secret” (read my review here), this tale of mothers navigating the trenches of kindergarten for the first time takes schoolyard mischief to a whole new level. I’ll say it again: I love a book told from multiple perspectives with a who-dun-it storyline and this one did not disappoint. Who would have thought kindergarten mums could be hiding so much scandal?

The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins – Rachel rides the train to and from London daily, secretly observing a couple breakfasting on their patio until one day she sees something shocking. Unable to keep the secret quiet, Rachel informs the police of her observation and unexpectedly finds herself tangled in a mess outside of her control.  The writing wasn’t über creative and I had the ending figured out by 60% completion but I still really enjoyed the suspense leading up to the ending and trying to untangle the web of lies presented through the viewpoints of the three women. 

Shopbop | The Big Sale Event

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The Shopbop Big Event is happening now through Saturday! Hurry over to take advantage of up to 25% off your order (excluding Stuart Weitzman). Whether you are looking to invest in classics, to splurge on trendier pieces, or start your summer wardrobe overhaul you really can’t go wrong!  Here are a few of my top choices:

1. A black dress to layer with tights now and bright heels later.
2. A closet staple made modern with a longer length that pairs perfectly with everything in your closet.
3. Summer is all about throwing on simple silhouettes, but the back on this one adds the perfect touch of whimsy.
4. Blocking the harmful summer rays is essential, but who says you can’t do it in style with this topper?
5. Need to update my airport security gear with this graphic carryall.
6. A neutral sandal that I know I will reach for daily once warmer weather finally arrives.
7. Rebecca Minkoff handbags are classic yet edgy and I love how this one is adorned with an all black strap and minimal hardware.
8. The perfect right hand ring regardless of the time of year.9. Nautical? Check. Neutral? Check. Tons of space for beach essentials? Check. This beach tote has it all.
10. After long days at the office or the beach, slipping into this pajama set makes for a peaceful night.
11. Stacking this with this adds instant polish.
12. A splurge? Yes, but when they go with everything it sure is hard to pass up (a girl can dream, right?).
13. Love the layered look of this bracelet without the constant clanking of a stack.
14. A metallic sandal to dress up any casual summer outfit.

 

Oh the Places We Will Go…

Daydreaming of faraway destinations and possible adventures is as common as breathing in our household (particularly sunnier locations as of late to escape the dreary Seattle rain). Ranging from international to domestic, touristy to exotic, tropical to frigid, the location always varies and in hindsight truly doesn’t matter as we find joy in the culture, people, and history of each and every place.   The three cities listed below are vacations we hope to take in the near future: one historic and bright, one relaxing and beachy, and one covered in snow and active. What trips are on your bucket list for 2015? If you have any suggestions for any of the places below, please let me know!

Trips I Want to Take

Slow Cooker Beef and Potato Stew

Hearty Beef Stew

The weather forecast this month for the Seattle area is a consistent daily report of dreary days filled with rain heavy clouds, dark skies, and wet pavement. The only plausible solution is to warm up with chunky, waterproof layers and comfort food in my belly.

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew (via):

1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
10.5 ounce can condensed French Onion soup
1 cup water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
3 pounds boneless beef chunk, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes with excess fat trimmed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into halves or quarters
1 medium onion, large dice cut
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cups frozen peas
additional salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup potato flakes (instant mashed potatoes), as need to thicken stew
crusty Italian bread, toasted

Add chicken broth, onion soup, water, tomato paste, and soy sauce into the slow cooker; whisk together to evenly distribute the tomato paste. In a large bowl, season beef chunks with salt and pepper. Add the seasoned beef, potatoes, onion, and carrots to the slow cooker; cover with lid and cook on high for 6-7 hours until beef is tender. Before serving, add frozen peas and allow to cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup potato flakes to thicken the soup. Add additional potato flakes 1 tablespoon at a time until desired thickness is achieved. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted bread.

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