Monday, October 31, 2011

i still love snow

Raise of hands -- who was affected by the nor'easter this weekend?! While I was out running errands (aka - picking up my new shoes!) Ross and I returned to a snow-laden road with icy conditions. We drove past a few cars that either turned over, slid into embankments, or got hit by downed trees. New Jersey was certainly hit harder than we had expected.

The snow set me back a little bit because I really wanted to get some work done this weekend. Instead, I found myself chilling in Starbucks stranded from my laptop, iPad, and my dying cell phones' power cords. Not fun. As a result, Monday morning catch-up took a lot longer than anticipated.

Finally a group decision was made to park at a neighbors and trek over the downed trees and power lines to return to a house full of family!! We snacked on cheese and crackers, fruit, cake & ice cream while sipping gin & tonics and wine. Oh, what a night!!

When the flakes began, as I walked down the sidewalk, I couldn't help but think "Oh, I have missed this. I love snow." Despite all the obstacles and changes the snow storm brought on my weekend plans, and after climbing over trees and sleeping with no heat on, I still love snow. Bring it on winter!

hello lovelies

My shoes are here! They have finally arrived... aren't they beautiful?! Jimmy Choo, black suede, almond toe, with a 4" heel. Actually it might be 4.25" - I don't remember. There is no platform so I'm not completely towering over all of my coworkers.

When I sent this picture to my friend she replied "you can dress like that for work?" I responded... yes, with a pencil skirt, white blouse, and fur vest to boot!! Today's outfit is certainly a fun one. Since I'm not client-facing right now I'm not restricted by the "suit rule". Thankfully!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

what's better than chocolates and shoes?

A chocolate shoe!! My fellow trapeze artist and friend, Harold, brought me the sweetest (yes, that's a pun) birthday gift and it was a true homage to the Patent Leather Shoes blog. He used a purse for the gift big, which I thought was uber creative! Inside I found a white chocolate shoe stuffed with chocolate candies from Schakolad.

See how delicious this looks... Almost too pretty to eat. Almost ;-)

I've been super busy and not yet able to break into this puppy, but it's #1 on my list when I get home from Junior League tonight!!

gel manicures

I'm sure you've heard about the new trend of gel manicures -- without all the buffing, sanding, and harmful processes on your nailbeds! There's OPI, Shellac, and Gelish (likely a few more, but I've seen these). They work great; perfect for a vacation, special event, or holiday - especially since you don't have to worry about chipping your polish while cooking.

On a recent trip to Bed Bath & Beyond I came across Nutra Nail's Gel Perfect. This is a UV-free, at home gel nailpolish! I couldn't resist so I bought a set, originally $12 but I had a 20% off coupon for BB&B. The box doesn't say how long you can expect the polish to last, however it does claim to set in five minutes (fabulous!), have a shiny patent leather finish (you know I love my patent leather!), and not require a UV light (perfect, because I don't have on)!! 

I've read through the instructions and it seems simple enough. Now I just have to decide when to apply... below are some options, please leave a comment and let me know what choice you think will work best!

1. Tonight - This weekend I'll be traveling out of town for a family birthday party. My other alternative for the weekend is to keep my current polish on, you can see it here as the Sunday Night picture!
2. Next week* - I'll be a bridesmaid the first weekend of November, which means it will be on for the wedding! 
3. Two weeks - I'll be attending a wedding the second weekend of November. Might wear my bridesmaid dress again, or I'm leaning towards a floor-length chiffon maxi in black & white animal print.

*Note, I'll be wearing a navy blue dress; sweetheart neckline, to the knee. My shoes will either be gold glitter peep toe pumps or beige suede lace-up sandals. The other option I'm considering for Rebecca's wedding is the marble nail art in navy blue, bright blue, and silver.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

organizing clothes

Inspired by the write-up on Apartment Therapy which I found via Emily Schuman's twitter feed (author for Cupcakes and Cashmere), I'm going to share with you a photo of my closet!! When I moved in with my boyfriend storage was a big issue. We quickly found ourselves at The Container Store exploring the elfa system. WOW - what a savior!! Not only was it affordable and easy to install, but it makes my clothes look super neat, all the time! (Which is important because this is on a wall of our bedroom, not behind a door or curtain!)

best dressed

Bryan, you dapper gent, you. Thank you for wearing that fabulous three-piece suit to my party!! You certainly win best dressed :)

Me, Bryan, & Krista at Keep It Classy!

oh how i've missed the thrill

Three weeks since my last trapeze class?! Well, my  heart missed it a lot more than my hands (they're pretty cut up today).  I'm still working on my back-end split - which was rather rusty after taking a three week hiatus, but that was to be expected. So, no videos to share!

Last night's theme was Halloween!! Will certainly out-did himself again. Not only did he show up in leather pants (with a purple velvet blazer) but he caught the flyers at the end of class wearing leather pants! Everybody was shocked that they didn't split right up the middle.

I had about 7 minutes to pick out an outfit and walk out the door (yesterday was a busy busy day) so I opted for cat, which happened to work out well... all black, red lipstick on the nose, some eyeliner on the cheeks for whiskers, and homemade ears made from index cards, attached with bobby pins!

Let's see, we've got: a pimp, a Musketeer, halloween fan (Tracey, your socks were awesome!!), cat, bunny, hula girl (yes, she flew in the grass skirt!), and a halloween-themed butterfly!! What a festive crowd :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

accent nails

These are my new thing!! Within three days, I've had three different varieties of accent nails using my new glitter polishes. Sorry, but I only have two photos to share!!

Friday Night
I only had one hour to get ready for my birthday night out with Ross. We were going to a casual dinner and then off to The Columbia Room, a private, speak-easy-esque bar inside The Passenger, near the Convention Center in DC (check out the picture of cocktail number 3, Gin Daisy). About five minutes before walking out the door I swiped on a coat of "Wicked" (essie) and dapped silver glitter on the tips of my nails, pulling it back a bit towards my cuticle. I mentioned this technique last week, here.

We got in the elevator and my nails were so wet, I asked Ross to put my scarf on for me. Then I promptly apologized to the guy in the elevator, caveat-ing "I'm not normally this high maintenance, my nails are wet!" Which, now, sounds rather "high maintenance" to me. Oops!

Saturday Night
At my birthday party I had to actually paint my nails while guests were there!! I'm more mortified of bare nails than I am excusing myself to the bathroom for three 5-minute increments to finish off the base coat, color coat #1, and color coat #2!! But they were all my friends and found it rather amusing.

Most nails were "Over the Top" (essie) and each ring finger was a silver essie topped with a thick silver glitter.

Sunday Night (and currently)
Sunday night I sat myself down for a proper manicure! Not one of the five minute, let's get polish on my nails kind of thing!! My cuticles really thanked me ;-) I went with "Power Clutch" (essie) and finished off my two ring fingers with a little gold glitter. I pulled it back like I had on Friday night. It's just enough sparkle to make a girl smile... :)

signature cocktail recipes

Below are the instructions for the signature cocktails served at my Keep It Classy party! My shot glasses happened to be 2 ounces and the cups were 10 ounces. In the instructions below, refer to the measurements as a ratio! Also, if you use simple syrup, agave, or sugar in the French 75 the measurement will adjust slightly.

French 75

Combine in the shaker:
Scoop of ice
1-1/2 shots gin
1-1/2 shots lemon juice
2 teaspoons liquid Sugar in the Raw

Shake vigorously.
Strain into glass.
Top with sparkling wine.

Blueberry Vodka

Fill glass with ice.

With lemonade:
1 shot blueberry vodka
2 shots lemonade
Garnish with blueberries on a skewer

With cranberry juice:
1 shot blueberry vodka
2 shots cranberry juice
Garnish with lime wedge

This delicious looking libation is a Gin Daisy - the third drink from my tasting at 
The Columbia Room, where Ross took me to celebrate my birthday!

Monday, October 24, 2011

channel your inner bartender

I put my guests to work at my birthday party and that does not make me a bad hostess!! It was a great idea that led to mingling between various groups of friends.

Most guests actually tried both drink variations available... which is what I was hoping for! One mistake on my part... I did not previously QC (quality check) my instructions... so we had to remind folks to halve the Blueberry Lemonade recipe :) Also - I didn't anticipate the amount of lemon juice needed in a French 75 so Ross made a quick run to the supermarket at 7:30 for a couple extra bottles!!

For the instructions I created the designs in PowerPoint, printed it out, and put into a 4x6 picture frame!! Such an easy DIY :)

a quarter-century affair

Keep It Classy, Part Deux  was so much fun and a "very Caitlin affair".

 Ross (my favorite sous chef) and I spent all day Saturday shopping for last minute supplies, cooking the tasty treats, and preparing our place for the party!! I was so busy that I did not pick out my dress until 7:45... Guests were invited to show up at 8:00... Eek!! I also painted my nails between 8:15 and 8:30. I went with Over the Top by essie, a frosted charcoal, and my ring fingers were silver with silver glitter... accent nails!

 Here are some photos taken during prep and the final set-up!

DIY Candle Votives!

 The candles came in small plastic cups, I took them out and drew on the rim with a Sharpie. Then I pressed the rim of the cup down onto the top of the apple. I was able to easily trace this with my pumpkin carving knife then scoop out some apple with a spoon. Pop in the tealight candles and, voila!!

Melting caramels on the stove for some caramel apples!! 
 Puff pastry with raspberry jam and brie cheese. Use egg wash to seal the edges of the triangle shape, don't forget to top with an egg wash to ensure a nice brown crust when they come out of the oven!!
 My favorite sous chef cutting up the Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese for my favorite snack ever... Cheese, Apples, and Pretzels. More specifically; extra sharp cheddar cheese, granny smith apples, and everything pretzel crisps. This combination is sweet and savory, smooth and crunchy. Everybody that tries it is immediately addicted and I am on a mission to share this snack with all of my friends!
 Mini pizzas and bite-sized caramel apples with peanuts in the background!
All four snacks shown on the table with the candle apple votives and hurricane lamps with tall candles and dried beans!!

I was actually taking these pictures when guests were arriving so they're kind of rushed and I didn't get as many as I was hoping to... but it's still a good visual of what the food looked like. Up next I'll post about the bar with signature drinks and everybody's outfits per the invite's dress code!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

new nail art inspiration

Have you heard of nail stamping? I had not either... but now I am intrigued and want to try it immediately!!

Check out this great tutorial on the blog "A Painted World"

Below are some pictures from the directions:

nail strips -- an easy diy

Have you seen the Sally Hansen nail strips at your local drug store? Maybe a demo in a mall kiosk? Nail strips are all over!! I've been somewhat skeptical to try them, thinking they would be hard to apply myself or not stay on for a long enough duration.

My friend Alexis got me a Sally Hansen set for my birthday. She chose the houndstooth design, inspired a la Gaga!

I was pleasantly surprised! There are about 7 or 8 strips  available in varying sizes per hand. They were really easy to apply. After prepping your nails (file, cuticles, etc.) you simply peel off the top and bottom protective layers. Then center the strip on your nail and press it down, close to the cuticle line. Stretch the strip long-ways and a bit sideways, pressing it down on your nail to avoid any bubbles. When the sticker is on, use the provided nail file to remove the extra (don't rip). I finished it off with a clear coat to seal!! Look how cute...

I have received so many comments on my nails... from people on the metro, friends, Junior Leaguers. Everybody loves these and I can't wait to get another set to try on more designs!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

new nail art and must read blogs

As I fall I asleep at night I typically think about the outfit I'm going to wear the following day (this saves A LOT of time in the morning) but last night, I focused my attention on nail art instead. Mostly because I can't decide on a design for my birthday party this Saturday. Thankfully, a number of friends have been sharing ideas with me, and they come across some great ones!

Yesterday, Amelia shared a link to "The Graduated Glitter Nail" from the Classic Bride blog. I really love the look of this design - and am fairly certain I now have a winning nail art design for my birthday party. Now, if I could only pick out a dress to wear, we'd be all set ;-)

This picture is courtesy of Classic Bride Blog.

I'm not sure if I'll go with the natural base color - I'm thinking more along the lines of  "Power Clutch" by essie, "Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow" by OPI, or "Russian Navy" by OPI. And likely a bronzey glitter.

While reading the post on Classic Bride, I came across a link to their inspiration for this design on the Cupcakes and Cashmere blog. I have heard about this site before, and now I'm addicted! Cupcakes and Cashmere is definitely getting added to my must read list.

Here are Emily's (author of Cupcakes and Cashmere) glitter nail art photos. I'm loving the bold orange!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

halloween centerpiece

For any of you that have not yet had the pleasure of reading McSweeney's "It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherf***ers" I now direct you to the satirical, hilarious, and season-appropriate article. Click here.

When I came across the write-up last month it was like a welcome message to Fall! Oddly enough, ever since reading about "an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables" I have been bugging Ross to let me get some gourds for our island or kitchen table. I'm not sure why I had this desire but it's all I was able to think about.

After being inspired by a DIY pin on Pinterest, I made it a point to sneak one little gourd into our cart during a shopping trip ;-) A few days later my pumpkin carving kit and vampire teeth arrived from Amazon. With that, I share my new little DIY halloween centerpiece.

I made this little guy buy cutting out a piece using a pumpkin knife... stuffing it with plastic vampire teeth... and popping in some red thumbtacks with a drop of black nail polish (mean eyes). And, VOILA!!

To measure the size for the hole, trace the vampire teeth on a piece of paper. Using the thumbtacks, tack the paper onto the gourd and carve around it. Remember, it's always easier to start with a smaller hole and cut away more pumpkin to fit the teeth.

This guy will definitely be making an appearance at my birthday party this weekend. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall!

Such a sweet boyfriend
taking care of the luggage!
The first of my recent travels away from DC was down to Vero Beach, Florida!! This is a town I've been frequenting since the ripe-old-age of four. (On my first plane ride down I asked my grandfather if the white stuff outside the window was snow!) My family lovingly nicknamed it "Zero" Beach because of the entertainment and action (or obvious lack-there-of) this beachfront town has to offer. In high school I even convinced my friend Elizabeth that the sidewalks were rolled up at 6PM. When she looked out the front door she was unaware that my grandparent's street never has sidewalks... though she caught on the next morning ;-)

Our three day trip was highlighted with a handful of fun-filled family activities; a celebration dinner for my grandparents 60th anniversary, and the real reason everybody made the visit; my Aunt's wedding!!

Unfortunately we were not greeted with warmth and sunshine, as I had expected, but rather gray skies and hurricane-like conditions. But, alas, the show must go on!!

Me and Ross ready to
party with the family!

We snuck in this picture before the rain started... though the sky was plenty gray at that point!

The cake at dinner featured Nannie and Pop-Pop's wedding portrait!! I actually have pictures of me and my cousin trying on my grandmother's wedding dress. It is a beautiful yellow silk, but boy is it heavy!! And, wow she was skinny. I've got about a six inch gap across my rib cage where I cannot close the darn gown.

For the plane ride down to Florida I downloaded the user manual for my camera. I have a Nikon D80 but was not well versed in all of its features (I hadn't read the manual in four years) so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to brush up on my photog skills ;-) The pictures turned out great, and I've included a handful below!
All the grandkids!! This is a fun crowd :)
Pop-Pop and Nannie with my mom, aunt, and uncles!
My aunt put together a great slideshow...
video from my
mom as a baby. So cute, mama!

And now, on to the weekend's feature event!! My aunt got married to a great guy who works in DC... this means I get the pleasure of seeing my family more often :) With all the rain, thankfully they had a tent set up outside for their ceremony. However, the guests had lifted and shifted their chairs toward the center that when the ceremony finished there was no more aisle for the bride and groom to walk out!! It worked out well though, because the fastest and most efficient route to the inside was up by the "altar" area.

Here comes the bride -- and groom!
My cousin did a great job helping out Reverend Frisby

First kiss!

Delicious AND beautiful cupcakes served on a tiered tree.

Escort cards with names on front and table assignment inside.
Following the ceremony and a lunch the family had originally planned a boat ride and pool party... this quickly turned into bowling and a clubhouse barbecue. Fine by me! (Although my little rental car wasn't going to make it through the flooded streets and I had to skip on the bowling part.) We all finished the night off with family and friends, some delicious barbecue (I'm craving mac-and-cheese right now), and a fantastic game of charades!! (Thank you "Lava Lamp" for instigating that one!)

lots to catch up on

For being in Atlanta for only three days I really got a whole lot done!! My dear, sweet friend Suzanne was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I wanted to be with her following surgery to lend a helping hand and show my love. During Friday night a group of us girls got together for dinner and manicures! Of course this was the perfect opportunity to share my love of nail art. That night I gave Suzanne the water marble nail art design, and finished Alexis' the following morning! Suzanne went with pink, white and gold, and Alexis chose black, white and gold. I think they both came out great :) 

Being together was so much fun!! The girls got really creative and sang me Happy Birthday with a German Chocolate cake and "hovering" house candle. I say "hovering" because it was a vanilla candle in a glass jar that you'd have on your table, they held it up and I still got to blow out the candle and make a wish. (Remember how much I love my birthday?! My first celebration was last Thursday [Gigi's cupakes with Ali & Alexis], and the last planned activity is this coming Saturday [birthday party at home!]... a good week and a half of celebrations!)

On Saturday morning Suzanne's husband planned to participate in a breast cancer walk. He was out on Friday night when I arrived, but came home later with his toes painted pink!! It was so super cute, and I told him I couldn't help but put it on my blog. You are the cutest couple ever. He really loves his wife :)

Saturday afternoon was spent at the Decatur Craft Beer Festival. This was most exciting because I cannot find my favorite local beer in DC; Sweetwater. They even had my favorite flavor on tap... Blue! It does remind me of a blueberry, though that's surprisingly not a bad thing.

I'll refrain from adding the photo booth pictures up on here, although I am so tempted. Instead, I'll have to share with you the cute glasses we got to use the day of, and my nail art!! 

The nails were done by painting all my nails with two coats of my base color (I did teal). Then cut scotch tape into really thin strips, and lay the strips in varying patterns across your nails. Paint a coat of a second color (hot pink here). Wait about 10 minutes for the polish to dry and slowly peel off the tape. (HINT: before you tape your nails, stick the tape onto your palm to remove some of the stickiness which might peel off your base color polish!) I finished it up with a clear fast-dry top coat and was off to the beer festival! Mind you... I got QUITE A LOT of comments from the crowd. My nails were a hit :)
I moved from Atlanta to DC about a year and a half ago. Since my move I have been craving a meal from Nuevo Laredo, the most delicious Mexican restaurant in all the land! Seriously, I have never had another meal that compares to their fare. On Saturday night I was able to go have some chips & queso, and split the steak fajitas and chicken chimichanga with Alexis. We didn't even come close to finishing our food (or margaritas) but it was so worth every single calorie!! Just look at how delicious this is...

PS - Alexis, thanks for playing bartender on Friday night and making some delicious French 75's!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

sincere apologies

My faithful followers, you have all been so patient with me. Expecting new posts and not hearing from me for almost two weeks. My behavior as a blogger has been inexcusable, and for that I apologize. The past week and a half has been a doozie, though. Lots of exciting stories to share with you all; a family reunion and wedding, training at a world class facility for work in Texas, and then visiting old friends in Atlanta. For all of this I got to enjoy the pleasures of five flights in 10 days. That's a lot of travel, people. But alas, I am back. I'm here in the blogosphere ready to share my tales and stories, my experiences and perspectives. Oh yes, and we must not forget that today is my birthday!! I'm a quarter-century old, folks. Half-way to 50!! And what an exciting ride it has been so far...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

she flies through the air with the greatest of ease

Hahaha - wouldn't that be nice!! When I put up videos and pictures it's usually when I have finally completed or mastered a trick. At class there is a camera set up on the rig with a DVR so that when you get down you can get feedback from the instructors and watch your fly. This helps break down pieces of a trick, and personally, visualize what I need to work on.

Last night I moved on to another back end trick, the split! This is one of my favorites, because when I finally learned my set split (<--another video!) it felt so intuitive to me, like second nature. Plus it's a really graceful move. It looks easy, though I tell you it is not. That's why I've decided to grace you all with the first take of my back-end split. I do not get into my position fast enough and as I scramble to recover I look like I'm either a.) riding a bike really fast or b.) trying to tread water. It's hilarious to watch.

First of all - I had my first UNASSISTED TAKE-OFF!! This means that the instructor doesn't hold my belt as I jump off the board. This was one of my goals for my IFW and I'm so glad I reached it before half-way through the workshop. Secondly, I really like that you can hear the jams in the background, especially since I release the bar to come down as Tiffany sings "tumble to the ground". (And, yeah, you can bet that I just found "I Think We're Alone Now" on Spotify and I'm rocking out to it as I finish my post!) Thank you Michelle, aka "DJ Straddles", for supplying some fabulous tunes all night long!!

Now... here is what it is supposed to look like! When I landed I exclaimed, "Finally" because it felt like so much hard and frustrating work to get there. To which my instructor responded "I wonder what you're going to do when it takes more than one class to learn a trick." ...point taken, Mandy!

Look how poised I am up there, holding on without any help :)

And, how could I forget my weekly class photo?! Animal print... RAWR. Our poses just keep getting better.