Thursday, July 31, 2014

Styling Kimono's For Fall

This summer we all fell in love with the kimono. Cut-offs, a crop top, and a kimono were the perfect summer outfit. Now as you evaluate your wardrobe for the Fall keep your kimono's at the ready. They will be the perfect outfit addition on cool days and can either add a pop of color, or anchor an outfit.

Summer Style
Summer styled kimono: crop top or a t-shirt with cut-offs and a kimono.

Fall Style

Fall styled kimono: t-shirt or a delicate camisole (for a dressed up version), skinny jeans, pants, or leggings, plus riding boots, booties, or even wedges. Statement jewelry and stacked bracelets are a plus.

xoxo Gwen

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Seasonal Eating

Most people assume if it's in the grocery store it must be fresh and delicious. Sadly this is not true. We've probably all witnessed the trend of certain fruits and vegetables being available during certain seasons. Watermelon in the summer and leeks in fall and winter. The thing is potatoes, apples, oranges, onions, and several other fruits and vegetables seem to be a mainstay in grocery stores year around.

There are benefits to seasonal eating: it's healthier, cheaper, better for the environment, and it tastes better. Why else does watermelon taste so heavenly on a hot summer day? While grocery stores seem to be carrying pretty much anything and everything these days you can pick up clues to what's in season by stopping by a farmers market or noticing displays of fruits and veggies at the grocery store that were not there the week before. You can also use the internet to simply do some research and make a list or chart.

Apples and blueberries are best July-Sept
Strawberries June-Aug
Asparagus - May and June
Potatoes - Oct, Nov
Lettuce May -Aug

To finish out the summer enjoy cucumbers, curly lettuce and cherries in July. For August start buying Romaine lettuce, raspberries and plums. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your body and the environment will too!

xoxo Gwen

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Perfect Lemonade

Another summertime staple is of course lemonade. The fast and easy way to make it is Country Time Lemonade of course. It comes in several different flavors and all you have to do is measure it out and add water. But what about the perfect lemonade? Doesn't it make your mouth water just thinking about it?

The Perfect Lemonade
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Zest of 2 lemons
2 cups simple syrup (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp salt
cold water

Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Let cool.

Remove the zest from 2 lemons (avoiding the pith). Make the simple syrup, adding the lemon zest before heating. Let cool, then pour the syrup into an ice filled pitcher. Stir in the salt, 2 cups of lemon juice, and water. You can choose whether you would like to add lemon slice to the pitcher or to the glasses when served. **I prefer in the pitcher for the added tartness, and one slice in each glass when served**

Image via Google
xoxo Gwen

Friday, July 25, 2014

Easy Summer Side Dishes

The first recipe I recommend is one from Mary Kay Andrews. I prepared this easy summer side for 4th of July and it was a hit!

From the kitchen of bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews:
Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus
"In Save The Date, the stepmother Patricia throws a fit when the caterer dares to substitute bacon for prosciutto in this recipe for the purposes of the pre-wedding tasting. While there's no need to get huffy, the prosciutto certainly does make a difference. This dish, which makes an excellent appetizer or side, is loaded with flavor and looks impressive despite the super simple preparation."

1 lb. asparagus, washed and stemmed
1 TBSP. olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
8 slices very thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
After cutting course stems off asparagus, place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Roast about 15 minutes. Cool completely, then wrap each asparagus with half a slice of prosciutto, leaving the tip ends exposed.

**When I prepared this I used 3-4 stalks of asparagus per 1/2 slice prosciutto**

Some other quick and easy side dishes I have been making are yellow squash and zucchini.  For the yellow squash I just dice it up, toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast it in the oven (400 degrees) for about 20ish mins. So delicious! For the zucchini I slice it in half length wise, then again in half (4 pieces per zucchini). Then I lay the pieces out on a baking sheet drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle some salt and pepper on top and then arrange shaved Parmesan cheese on the top of each "wedge". Again 400 degrees about 20ish mins.
xoxo Gwen

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Elaine Stritch

If you happened to miss the news... Elaine Stritch passed away last Thursday. She was a great entertainer, well known for her voice and roles on Broadway. If you haven't already viewed her documentary entitled Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me on Netflix now is the time!

 February 2, 1925-July 17, 2014
RIP Elaine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bath & Body Works Sale

I haven't shopped at Bath & Body Works in awhile. Not because I forgot about them, or found a replacement per say, but when I shop there I tend to stock up, and things last awhile. Christmas of 2012 I got one of everything from their Winter/Christmas line. I am still using the last bits of my absolute favorite lotion, Twisted Peppermint.

A couple weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend and afterwards we saw the huge sale signs hanging in Bath & Body Works, so of course we had to go in. I ended up with a few candles, hand sanitizers, and the Dark Kiss shower gel.

Yesterday with some coupons in hand I ventured back to Bath & Body Works and they are still having huge sales going on. Secretly I hope their prices stay this low forever.

$20 with $30 purchase
New & Favorite Scents $6.00

3-Wick Candles $12.00
xoxo Gwen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ear Ache & Ice Pick Headaches

I can't believe it's already Tuesday of a new week. Last week was a complete whirlwind with each and every night spent at the theatre for tech week for the production of Follies at Little Theatre of Virginia Beach. It was a blast! Now it's on with the show. Opening weekend was a bit magical and a little messy too.

Saturday I had an ear ache pretty much all day. Thanks to some drops and cotton shoved in my ear by Sunday morning the ear ache was gone. Then came the ice pick headaches. They feel more like lightning headaches as a quick surge (or spike) shooting through my head. I dealt with those headaches off and on Sunday and all day yesterday. Thankfully I didn't have to work my full morning shift at work. My boss was very sympathetic.

When things get tough, remember:

xoxo Gwen

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Finally, a Bookcase!

I love books. More than people realize I suppose. When I was younger my sister and I would get books for Christmas and have them read within the afternoon. We'd sit by the kerosene heater and read until we were done. I miss those days. As a teenager my step mom passed along her John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell books. They became my favorites.

Then I took too many years off from reading anything. I joined the Army, started college and had mandatory reading which kept me busy.

Fast forward to the last two years or so and as you can tell from my growing book collection I have started reading again. Last fall I gave myself the goal to read one book a month. I of course surpassed that, even with all my other obligations and my crazy schedule. Then for the new year I joined a Good Reads challenge to read 52 books this year. It's sort of a lot  too many a challenge, but challenges are not supposed to be easy, as I tell my dad often. I've only read 14 books so far.....

This summer it became a goal of mine to find a bookshelf that could fit into our already outgrown apartment. This weekend I got the Threshold™ Carson 3-shelf Bookcase.

Leading up to my purchase I turned to Pinterest as I often do.
We actually went to Barrett Street to look for a ladder.
I thought my dad could build me this!
My Bookcase 

Maybe it's not styled to perfection quite yet, but it's getting there. (Before you ask, no this is not all of my books.) I am still looking for the perfect bookends. At the moment I am using my fiance's heavy brass ones we picked up while antiquing. Of course there is a list of books I'm dying to add as well.

xoxo Gwen

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Fujifilm Instax™ Mini 8 Camera {Pink}

$119.99 at Michael's
The film $24.99 at Michael's
This camera will remain on my wishlist until I have one. Even if it's "uncool" by the time I actually get around to splurging on one, I will still want it. They have them for cheaper on eBay (which I never entirely trust), Best Buy, and a few other places but I have coupons for Michael's. Plus I definitely want the pink one. Seriously someone buy me one!

I was definitely tempted this weekend when I had a 50% off coupon, but *sigh* poor college student and all that......

xoxo Gwen

Monday, July 14, 2014

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks, NC has a ton of beaches as you can see from the map. Each beach offers unique experiences. Carova is the place to go if you want to get away from it all. It has wild horses and is only accessible with a 4X4. Kill Devil Hills, the oldest official town in the Outer Banks, is the perfect spot to try hang gliding. You can also visit the Wright Brothers Memorial. Manteo, located on Roanoke Island, includes the NC Aquarium, Elizabethan Gardens, Lost Colony Drama, and the Roanoke Island Festival Park. Buxton is a small village that is perfect for fishing, kite boarding, and windsurfing. Hatteras is best known for fishing, tourism, history and its remote, pristine beaches.

Each summer my fiance and I choose to stay in Avon, NC. We stay in the Avon Motel and grab pizza at night and coffee from Uglie Mugs Coffee House in the morning. There's a private beach attached to the hotel so sunrise and sunset we're on the beach. During the day we shop, and do other touristy things like visit Hatteras and take pictures of the lighthouse. It's a great getaway for us in the small fishing town without tons of tourists.

From my July 2011 trip
July 2011 trip

xoxo Gwen

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hampton Roads Staycation

By now we've all heard of a staycation. It's a great way to save money and still have a blast during the summer. Think of it like this, you're A: Giving yourself a tour of your hometown, and B: Going to all the places that you usually skip because of work, school, volunteering, etc. So what do you actually do on a staycation? That depends on where you live.

Virginia is for Lovers
Here are some ideas:
Visit your local museums.
Hampton Roads Naval Museum
1 Waterside Drive
Norfolk VA
Open Daily 10 am-5 pm
Admission: FREE

The Chrysler Museum
245 W. Olney Rd.
Norfolk VA
Open Sunday noon-5 pm, Monday (closed), Tu-Sat 10 am-5 pm
Admission: FREE

Go to the beach or pool.
Virginia Beach

Get your bike out and hit the trails.
Virginia Bicycling Federation

Go to a Movie (or two, or three).
Rent a movie, watch something on Netflix, or go to the movie theater.

See a show.
Little Theatre of VA Beach
Little Theatre of Norfolk

Support your local sports teams.

Go shopping, take a nap, take a hike (literally), read a book, take an exercise class, host a barbecue, go to the park and have a picnic, go camping, eat at new restaurants, and spend time with your friends.

xoxo Gwen

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sorority File: White Attire Part 3

The last post in this series covers the last bits you will need for your white attire (initiation wear). You can find the dress post here and the shoe post here if you missed those.

Make-up and jewelry may be worn, but must be minimal. This is not the time to experiment with your make-up or costume jewelry. Simple, natural, day-time make-up is acceptable. No dark red lips or eye shadows. For jewelry think simple. A pearl necklace and small diamond stud earrings are both classic options.

This necklace is simple and classy, but won't break the bank.
Freshwater Pearl Necklace with Sterling Silver and Cubic Zirconia via Target $69.99

Whether you choose to wear real or faux diamonds remember.....keep it simple and tasteful.
For the actual ceremony you will not be hauling around your clutch. However, you will need a place to stash a few items: your key(s), ID, sorority pin, lip gloss, gum or mints, and cell phone. Again think white, but since you will not be "wearing" it at the ceremony it could have metallic or colored trim.
My dream clutch $1,500
Don't Forget
*Nude pantyhose
*Proper under garments (beige colored panties and bra - white shows in pictures!!)
*Camera (most people just use their cell phone cameras) #selfie #sororitygirl
xoxo Gwen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Updated Summer 2014 Bucket List

As we head into the second week in July I am able to cross off 2 more things on my Summer 2014 Bucket List.  See the list below (new accomplishments are bolded red). 
I still want to get back to the beach (hopefully OBX), but I did go down to the oceanfront on July 5th for a stroll on the boardwalk, some great pizza, and a fireworks show. It was a fun night. Then just this week I was able to spend some time with in the pool with two of my friends. Also a lot of fun.

Visit the Chrysler Museum   June 20, 2014

Go to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens  June 29, 2014

Go to as many festivals as I can  ~~Bayou Boogaloo (June 21, 2014)

Go to a Concert

Spend time with my Big

Shop the Farmer's Market

Stay involved with the LTVB  June 1, 10, 11, 12, 23, 2014

Visit the D'Art Center

Read (a lot)  ~~The Husband's Secret (by Liane Moriarty), Mockingjay (by Suzanne Collins), Eleanor & Park (by Rainbow Rowell), Ladies Night (by Mary Kay Andrews)

Pick fresh berries  June 22 & 28, 2014

Make smores over a fire

Craft (at least 2 things)

Go to the beach! July 5, 2014

Go swimming July 8, 2014

Go hiking

xoxo Gwen