Weekend Roundup

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It’s been awhile since I have done one of these darn things, but since this may be one of my last blog posts before I leave for Europe, I thought I’d get back to business. Business being blogging. Next weekend will be full of traveling so I am planning on spending this one relaxing as much as possible. For her part, Jamie is in Minneapolis celebrating her fourth anniversary with her new fiance Kevin. I expect there will be a lot of cocktails and Instagrams of their drunk faces.

This weekend keep in mind…

If you have been following the recent developments in the Amanda Knox case and want to learn more about the perplexing Italian Justice System, you may want to check out the book The Monster of Florence. Regardless of whether you think Amanda is guilty (given the evidence I don’t), the book may give you a better sense of the system that she is up against. It’s also a must-read for those morbid folks who love crime stories. (In related/less depressing news: I will be in Florence sooooooon!).

Ladies, we get paid exactly what we are worth so stop complaining! (cue epic Liz Lemon eyeroll)

Striped shirts are my jam/inspiration/reason for living. So you’ll understand why I love this Loft tee. If I had Oprah’s money and Merlin’s powers (or is it the other way around?), I would say “free Loft tees!” to all of you and it would magically appear under your seats and you would all be happy. This one is particularly fun with it’s fake layered chambray.

Congrats to my cousin Katie! Her inspiring blog Live Half Full got listed as one of Chicago’s best health blogs by Refinery29. Everyone in the whole world needs to be reading it. Her approach to health and life is something that we all need to aspire to (I’m trying to be a little more like Katie every day!). I am so glad that she is sharing her endless optimism with more and more people! And for those who do read it I promise that Katie is every bit as awesome in person as she is on the web.

Have a good weekend, readers!

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A Cocktail Recipe to Bookmark: Raspberry Mule

I love a good Moscow Mule (especially when it comes in those adorable copper mugs!). Made with vodka, lime, and ginger beer, it has just the right amount of tartness to refreshing ratio. When I heard about the Raspberry Mule, I wondered: why in the heck haven’t I thought of that? Ginger and raspberry–that sounds like a match made in boozy heaven! I am sold!

Raspberry Mule

1. Muddle about 1/4 cup of raspberries (add more or less depending on how fruity you want the drink to be) in cocktail shaker.

2. Add a dash or two of lime juice, 1 part ginger beer, and 1 part vodka. I usually do about 2 shots of vodka and 4 ounces of ginger beer, for reference. Fill the shaker with ice cubes and shake it!

3. Pour the mixture into a martini glass/Red Solo Cup/sippy cup/whatever you prefer. Garnish with a raspberry.

RasMule.COV

A Better Way to Pack

My suitcase is way messier

For someone with OCD, I sure am a slob when it comes to packing a suitcase. It starts off neat enough but within a day it looks like I hired an infant to do my packing for me (which isn’t a bad idea cost-wise…). By the end of a long vacation, I may as well be looking for a sweater in the bottom of a murky lake. Since I am going to Italy and France in 10 days (side note: WOWZA), I decided to take matters into my own hands and splurge on some packing cubes. I was skeptical at first although after using one of them for traveling this past weekend, I can gladly admit that it is going to make a huge difference. I bought the Space Pak kit from Flight001 although there are plenty of good options out there. There are a ton of different bags in the system from toiletry to clothes to shoes. My favorite part of the bags is that they have a divider so you have clean clothes in one part and on the other half you can store your dirty things. It’s like they know me!

Any one else use packing cubes? As for you wise travelers, do you having packing tips for me?

A Good Way to Spice Up Boring Water

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I’ll admit it, I definitely don’t drink enough water in the day. Even though I get dehydrated really easily, I’m just so bad about making it a priority. Water just doesn’t do it for me. It’s so…blah. I am a big fan of herbal teas in the winter but want to actually cut back on my pop addiction. Last week I finally caved in and bought a water infuser from Amazon. At $19.99, I knew it would be a good investment since I love natural fruit flavored water. One of my favorite things at going to get my hair cut in Minneapolis is the spa water filled with fresh orange, limes, lemons, and other seasonal fruit they serve. So refreshing! It has flavor but isn’t over the top sweet. All you have to do is add cut up fruit in the rod (I know, sounds dirty), fill the pitcher with water, and ta-da! You are set! The rod allows the flavors to get in the water without big chunks of fruit getting in it. My first concoction? A simple strawberry, orange, and lemon mix! I can’t wait to try different herbs and fruits!

Anyone else have a water infuser?

A Nice Travel Blush Brush

Sephora Collection Retractable Kabuki Brush

Sephora Collection Retractable Kabuki Brush

Kevin and I travel A LOT. Most of the time, it’s the 2.5 hour drive to Minneapolis for the weekend, which means most weeks I have to pack a travel bag. Again. And again. Ugh.It’s definitely not my favorite thing. However, I found an adorable, travel ready makeup blush brush. It is retractable so it keeps it clean and neat while barely taking up any room in my makeup bag (it’s only about two inches long and an inch wide….and that’s what she said)! Plus it is so soft and puts on a very subtle wash of color you can easily build up. It’s so nice, in fact, that I’ve been using it every day. For only $18, it’s also way cheaper than the $50 or so brushes that are typical at Sephora.

-Jamie

My Sometimes Strange, Deep Attachment to T.V. Shows

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When it comes to t.v. shows, I am not typically a casual viewer. Sure, while I sometimes like to mindlessly watch “bad” tv shows if I need to just veg, I love to get into a series and seriously connect with the characters. That’s what I love about t.v. compared to movies–you have seasons to get to know the characters, what makes them tick, and their flaws. Unless you are a movie trilogy like the “Before Sunrise” movies, you simply cannot get as attached to the characters on film. They are fleeting presences in your life, compared to a great tv show, which I feel makes a big impact on my life. For example, I remembered starting “Friday Night Lights” my freshman year of college. During a huge snowstorm, I marathoned the first season and cheered for the team’s successes more than I ever did for my own high school football team. When I finished up the series my last year in college, I felt like the show had grown up with me in those pivotal years and had ended right as I was about to start my own unsure adventure. I started crying during the opening scenes in the finale and Kevin had to literally pause it and irritatingly ask me, “can you do this??” Haha clearly he doesn’t get quite as attached to shows as I do.

“Cheers” was another show that I associate with a special time in my life. My family had just moved to Omaha the summer before I started middle school and I knew no one but my own siblings in town. Late at night, I would sit up and watch tv. One night, on Nick at Night, I discovered the world of “Cheers.” Even with the loneliness that came from moving to a new place at such an angsty age, I felt a connection to those people and that place. The characters were so much older than me and had none of the glamour that other teen tv shows had, but it didn’t matter. I identified with the intelligent, stubborn Diane Chambers and, while my classmates had crushes on early 2000s heartthrobs, I was enamored with Sam Malone.

I’m not so much of a t.v. snob that I can’t fall in love with a show that isn’t deemed “Emmy-worthy.” “Supernatural,” now in its 9th season, is another show that I cannot imagine my life without. Kevin and I started watching it together when we first started dating. 4 years, an engagement, 9 seasons and many moves together, “Supernatural” is still with us. Normally, I’m not a big fan of spooky stuff. Yet “Supernatural” has these flawed brothers and anti-heroes at its core, keeping the stories tied to this human element. The mythology is sprawling and shows complexity of good and evil in such an interesting way. Every time you think things have run their course, they change up the overarching stories, bringing you back in. The angels and demons storyline sent against the stereotypical storytelling that you would imagine, adding layers and interest to something that seems so cut and dry.

And today….well, I’m one episode away from finishing “The Wire.” I know I’m going to cry. It’s such an incredible show, a sprawling, ambitious epic tale about the experience of Baltimore people whose lives are rarely shown on tv. As a teacher, I fell in love with the fourth season in particular, where schools were at the forefront and a handful of students showed that inner city students are NOT just bad kids who are thugs who will not amount into anything. No, they have so many talents and many are just looking for a mentor or positive adult figure in their lives. They are angry at times, yes, but rightfully so. These stories told on “The Wire” move me in a way that many popular shows today simply cannot. They are real, they show complexities of government, school systems, and politics. Nothing is black and white in their worlds.

When some people proudly declare they “don’t own a tv,” I don’t see how they can be so close-minded. T.V. itself is not junk; it is what you watch. Sometimes, I need a mindless show that I can just throw on. But other times, I need a “Cheers,” a “the Wire,” a “Supernatural,” a “Friday Night Lights.” And it’s nothing to be ashamed about.

Let’s Daydream of Spring Flats

It is hard to think of spring when there is snow, negative wind chills, and permanent dry skin to worry about. Seeing these cheery little pointed flats make me so darn happy though. They are like spring in a shoe. I’d wear them with a printed dress or skinny jeans that hit right at the ankle. Did I mention that I am sick of winter?

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Courtesy of Anthropologie

Meat Lasagna (For Two!)

I know, my food pictures are the WORST. I always get too hungry and remember to take a picture AFTER I've eaten!

I know, my food pictures are the WORST. I always get too hungry and remember to take a picture AFTER I’ve eaten!

Kevin’s birthday was yesterday so I wanted to make a nicer dinner for the two of us, since I decided red wine sadly doesn’t qualify as a true “meal” (stupid American puritanical ideas). Still, I didn’t want to spend most of the night prepping in the kitchen. The solution? A nice meat lasagna in a much smaller quantity than those found in the typical huge trays. To be honest, even with the two of us, it still left us about half for leftovers. But a whole lot better than an entire pan worth of wasted pasta-deliciousness! This recipe, modified from this one I found on Pinterest, is super easy to change up based on what you have at hand and what you are craving. For example, I had some leftover kale in the fridge that I wanted to use up so I added that into the meat sauce as it simmered. Mushrooms, zucchini, olives, or many other veggies could easily be added in to kick up the flavor and health factor. Now onto the recipe!

Meat Lasagna (For Two!)

Ingredients

  1. Dry lasagna noodles (6 noodles, I used no boil ones and added 1/2 cup water on top to help it cook then)
  2. 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  3. 1/2 cup freshly minced onion
  4. 2 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1 teaspoon dried basil
  7. Salt
  8. Black pepper
  9. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  10. 1 jar (15 ounce) marinara sauce ( I used at 23 oz one as used no boil noodles
  11. 1 cup ricotta cheese (I used light)
  12. 1 egg or egg substitute
  13. 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  14. 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  15. Any other veggies you want to add (I used kale)
  16. Directions
  17. 1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

  18. 2. If using normal lasagna noodles–cook noodles and drain.

  19. 3. Saute the chopped onion and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet for a few minutes then add ground beef, oregano, basil salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned.
  20. 4. Then stir in marinara sauce and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, making sure sauce doesn’t overcook.
  21. 5. In a small bowl, whisk together a lightly beaten egg with ricotta and parmesan.

  22. 6. In the bottom of a loaf pan, place about 1 cup sauce across the bottom. Top with two noodles, then top with another cup or so of the meat sauce mixture. Top with another two noodles and the ricotta mixture. Top with the last two noodles and the remaining sauce. Layer mozzarella across the top.

  23. 7. Put aluminum foil over the top (loose if used cooked noodles, tight if used no boil) and put in oven for 45 minutes.
  24. 8. After 45 min, take off the foil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Before slicing, let lasagna rest 10 minutes outside of the oven.
  25. 9. Enjoy!

A Beautiful Quote

poem

There is nothing more that I can say on that one. Just enjoy it. That is all.

When TV Characters Remind You of Family Members

Jamie has already covered how much her fiance, Kevin, reminds her of Nick from New Girl. Now it is my turn. Whenever I watch Happy Endings I can’t get past how much Brad reminds me of my brother, Kyle. Okay, I know that they don’t look alike, but they do have similar mannerisms which throws me off. Let’s take a look at my case.

Point 1: They both have blonde “slender dragon” girlfriends/wives that they adore.

aimeejane

Point 2: They share a love of goofy dance moves. Marvel at Brad’s moves…this will have to suffice. I don’t think I am allowed to post Kyle’s online for proof.

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Point 3: Both aspire to be trophy wives.

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Point 4: They both got major attitude. Don’t mess with Brad/Jane or Kyle/Aimee. They will beat you down.

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I am convinced. Kyle is “White Brad.”

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