Thursday, 31 January 2013

Front fence - Transparent or Solid?

Reading one of Paul Bangay's books got me thinking ... Do I want a transparent or a solid front boundary? Well, I want both, in one. 

I'd love a high hedge behind the brick pillars, but at the same time I don't want to waste resources planting around the feature tree and against the fence on the left if they won't be visible from the street :(

What do we do?

Privacy is not an issue, so we don't HAVE to have a solid fence, but I do love a solid hedge.

Do you think a low hedge like the one in my drawing below would have as good of an impact as a higher one would?


(very late) Thoughts on Les Mis and anticipation for Mr Gatsby

I finally saw Les Mis on Tuesday evening, and then went back and saw it again last night. I know I'm SUPER late (you're probably all thinking this is OLD NEWS, Jenni), but I just have to express myself here. I honestly think that was the best movie I have EVER seen. I mean, you have to like musicals. And you have to be OK with sitting through a three hour musical that will most assuredly leave you emotionally depleted by the end.  But WOW. Hugh Jackman?! He blew me away. Anne Hathaway's "I dreamed a dream" scene? Goosebumps just thinking about it. Eddie Redmayne (Marius)? Hot damn.

I don't know that this movie is for everyone, but the emotion conveyed is absolutely palpable, and I'm sort of a glutton for punishment when it comes to these things. I was borderline ugly-crying by the last scene both times, but I think that has a lot to do with my own personal loss of a father-figure this last year and my ability to relate to some extent. Gosh. Just breathtaking. I guess that's all I really need to say. If you haven't see it yet, hurry up and go before it's out of theaters!

ALSO. Have you guys seen the trailer for The Great Gatsby? Leo hasn't looked this good since Titanic. I AM SO EXCITED. I think this is going to be a really interesting adaptation. The movie is by the same director as Romeo and Juliet, which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time, so I'm preeeetty sure I'm going to love this.

The last third of this trailer gives me full body chills every time.

Did you see Les Mis? Did you like it? And what do you think of the Gatsby trailer?

What I Wore to Alt 2013

I had quite a few emails yesterday about some of the pieces I wore to Alt so I thought I'd write up a little post about each outfit. 

*Disclaimer :: You probably have never known anyone that feels as awkward as I do posing for pictures. I hate it. These are pretty much as good as it gets as far as my modeling career is concerned. 

Shirt: Target || Skirt: J.C. Penny - from a few years ago 

Target is seriously like the only store I shop at these days. It's not easy going to the mall with two kids let me tell you that. Luckily Target has an amazing selection of clothes. This floral shirt is my new favorite shirt. It goes with almost anything! 

Shirt: Anthropologie || Green Skinnies: Target || Shoes: Soel Boutique 

I got this shirt at Anthropologie on sale after Christmas. It's super comfortable and oh so silky. 

Dress, Jacket & Shoes: F21 || Necklace: Bijou Market || Earrings: Anthropologie 

The Clue party outfit was really difficult for me to pull together. I finally, in a last ditch effort, took a trip to Forever 21 two days before Alt. I found my whole outfit there on sale. The shoes, jacket and dress together cost me less than $30! 

Blazer: F21 || Blue Shirt: F21 || Black Skinnies: Target || Boots:  Target 

In case you don't believe how awkward I am at taking pictures of myself feast your eyes on these outtakes. 

see I told you...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Just another routine catastrophe in my kitchen

This is kind of embarrassing as it's the second time this week I've talked about doughnuts, but this story is too astounding not to tell.

Over the weekend, I woke up one morning super grumpy and hormonal feeling, and I had this idea in my head that only doughnuts could make me feel better. Only doughnuts. Matthew said that you can actually make doughnuts with Bisquick, and do we have any Bisquick? So I pitter-pattered into the pantry where I found a box of Bisquick and proceeded to happily Google "Bisquick doughnut recipes."  (how many times can you say Bisquick in one paragraph? I bet I just maxed it out).

I found a recipe that seemed to suffice, so I pulled out the deep fryer that we got for a wedding gift and never used, and then poured an entire unopened bottle of vegetable oil in it, only to find that wasn't even barely enough to cover the bottom of the little fryer basket in there, and thus wouldn't be deep enough to fry the doughnuts in. So I was like, "Matthew, what do I do in this situation?" and he, being the very intelligent man that he is, transferred some of the oil into a frying pan, where it was plenty deep enough to fry some doughnuts in. He turned on the burner for me and then returned to the couch and his iPad, while I busied myself with dough preparation.

Well, I am rather slow when it comes to reading and following new recipes, so while I was meticulously measuring ingredients and shaping dough into little circles with holes in the middle, Matthew was noticing a lot of smoke and odor coming from the kitchen, so he came back in to check it out.

"Oh my gosh, babe, did you not notice that the oil is burning and smoking?" He cried, as he switched off the burner and began to run around the house, frantically throwing open windows.

"Uhhh..." I said. "Well, you see, my glasses are really scratched up, and it's hard for me to see clearly, so I didn't notice the smoke."

*Matthew rolls eyes.*  But honestly, that was the truth! (just got new glasses in the mail... hopefully this crisis will be averted in the future)

So anyway, we cooled off the oil, and I started to fry up our doughnuts. The deep fryer not working out and the nearly setting off the smoke alarm were only minor setbacks, and I was confident the doughnuts themselves would make up for the process starting out a little rocky.

It would all be downhill from here, however. The next thing to go wrong was the fact that the doughnuts simply would not stay together. Every time I flipped one it would break into smaller and smaller pieces. Only one of the six I made managed to stay in tact. This was especially frustrating to me because I'm pretty big on the aesthetics of food. So perhaps in my hastiness and increasing frustration I became a bit careless, and at one point I was flipping a doughnut when I accidentally dropped it into the crackling oil, which then splattered out of the pan and onto Matthew's nearby leg. At this point he began bellowing curses and staggered over to the sink to grab paper towels with which to wipe off the hot grease, and I was feeling a mixture of horror and the strange urge to laugh hysterically because why am I being punished so severely for deciding to make these doughnuts?

We finally finished frying up the doughnuts (or shall I say, the ONE doughnut and many doughnut fragments) and then we sprinkled them with powdered sugar and iced them with some vanilla glaze I'd made. I took the one intact doughnut and arranged it nicely on a plate beside my coffee and snapped a picture of it on Instagram, planning to later pick a filter and post it as proof that the experience was not a complete loss. Then we started to eat our doughnuts, but unfortunately it turned out they wound up tasting "like they'd been fried in the same grease as a hamburger," as Matthew so aptly put it. They were disgusting.

To add insult to injury, after we decided not to eat them due to the nastiness, I went to Instagram my picture, and Instagram ate it. The screen just went white, and the photo never saved to my phone. At this point, I wasn't even surprised, because clearly this entire experience had been jinxed from the start. Now I didn't even have proof that one doughnut turned out nicely, so I had to Instagram what was, essentially, a pile of deformed dough balls (see photo above - and believe me, they tasted much worse than they looked).

So, what is the moral of the story here? Well, there really isn't much of one, except maybe to leave things like doughnut-making to Krispy Kreme or, better yet, Gourdough's, next time the hankering strikes. Some things are just better left to the professionals, no?

My Experience at Alt 2013

Can you believe this was my THIRD year attending Alt? As bad as it sounds I feel like it took going three years for me to finally figure it out and enjoy myself. The first year I had NO idea what I was doing. I floated from thing to thing with absolutely no goal or purpose in mind. And then last year I felt deathly ill with morning sickness. I didn't go to any of the after parties or really talk to many people. 

Here are the reasons this year was the BEST EVER year for me at Alt. 

 1. I was excited.

I laugh when I look at this picture Justin took of me on the first day. But I swear my face probably looked like this the majority of the time. The first year I went I was excited but mostly anxious and last year I was so yucky and sick. This year I was super excited. From sun up to sun down I was loving life during Alt this year. 

2. I actually went to the Wednesday night dinner. 

Believe it or not the last two years I have skipped out on the dinner. It's hard for me to leave my kiddos for two full days of Alt so I never make the wednesday night sponsor dinners a priority. This year I went to the Minted dinner and had a blast. 

I got to sit next to Natasha from Minted during dinner and it was amazing. 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 

Minted has always been so good to me and great to work with. Natasha is so sweet and the whole  night we talked about her cute new baby and her adventures living in Hong Kong. 

The thing I loved most about attending the Minted dinner was getting a chance to talk to bloggers in a more intimate environment. I made friends that I was able to connect with all throughout the conference. Which leads me to my next point...

3. I made LOTS of new friends. 

One of my very favorite things to do in the world is to meet people face to face that I've known through blogging. You get that opportunity all the time at Alt. I've been reading Courtney's blog, A Thoughtful Place, for years now and we've emailed back and forth a few times but it was SO cool to get to meet her in person. She is super sweet and I so wish I had gotten to chat with her more. 

We love each other so much we even decided to match on Friday! 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 

 I partied hard with Alycia and Diana at the Clue party. I even crashed their hotel room to get ready for it. 

I feel like every spare second that I had I used to talk with people and get to know them better. My FAVORITE thing about Alt are the people that attend. There are so so so so many talented people that inspire me in so many ways. I probably chatted a few people's ears off (sorry Tauni) but I feel like I could talk to fellow bloggers forever. 

4. I got to chat with old friends.

I love this picture of me talking to Amanda. She has been to every year of Alt with me and I feel like Alt wouldn't be the same without her. She lives in Southern Utah so I don't get to see her very often. 

Did you know that I have known the amazing Emily Frame for years?  She has always been gracious and stylish and beautiful. I loved getting to chat with her and other bloggy friends all during Alt. 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 

I think this picture is THE BEST because Amy and Melanie are two of the nicest people in the world (cant' you just see it in their smiles?) Melanie is one of my favorite blogging friends that I've known for awhile and Amy is a brand new blogging friend that I got to meet during the summit. 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 

5. I ate lots of yummy food

Since I was so sick last year I hardly got to enjoy all of the yummy treats. The food at Alt ROCKS! Don't tell anyone but I stuffed like 10 of these truffles in my purse and took them home with me. They were amazing. 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 
6. I networked. 

This is a picture of me at the Better Homes & Gardens Roundtable on Friday morning. I really put myself out there this year in terms of networking which is something I have never done in previous  years. I came prepared with ideas and I came away with a newfound determination to find ways to work with brands I love. I am determined to connect more with brands this upcoming year. 

 photo by Justin Hackworth 

7. I spoke! 

The only reason I even got to go to Alt this year was because I was asked to be a speaker. The summit sold out so fast there is no way I would have been able to go otherwise. I had the most amazing time speaking with my fellow panel members. I'm not gonna lie I was pretty nervous about it but it went great! I'm saving more info on the experience and what we talked about for a separate post. (get excited) 

All in all it was an AMAZING few days. I hope you are not sick of hearing about Alt yet because I'll be posting more of what I learned later! 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

My sweater has elbow patches, does yours?

Fashion is such a funny thing. So subjective, don't you think? Just like anything else, I suppose... food, photography, taste in novels and blogs, the way we like our homes decorated, the way we need the dishwasher to be loaded, so-help-me-God.... all very subjective. We like what we like. And personally, I like stripes, and I like elbow patches, and when you put them together, MY MIND IS BLOWN.

In other news, I got a haircut yesterday (right after these pictures were taken). Yes, this is blog-worthy, as it's been over a year since my last one, and since I've been starting to get mean comments saying things along the lines of "cut-your-hair-you-disgusting-good-for-nothing-human-being-with-sickeningly-long-hair." OK, not exactly that. But close.

So I went to a new salon and got this little old Asian lady hair stylist (is it OK to say that she was Asian? I'm never sure about these things. I think it's important because her accent was cute and it adds to the story), and I'm pretty sure she was horrified by me when I arrived. I told her I needed a shampoo, trim, and blow dry, and her look of horror melted into actual fear at the prospect of having to do all of those things. "Are you sure you don't want just trim? Save you money that way. It thirty-five dollar extra for style. You can dry at home." And I was like, "ummm... OK. Sure. Let's do that." And she was making all these little "tsk-tsk" noises while she combed out my hair which, in her defense, truly WAS a rat's nest due to the fact that I hadn't straightened it, it had been in a braid for a while, and the humidity outside was 100%. I kept apologizing to her for the state of things, but anyway, it went well. She did a good job.

Here's the rest of the photos of today's outfit, and be sure and enter for your chance to win a Tailor and Stylist (where my shirt is from) shop credit below!

not sure what was happening here. this picture is so awkward, I had to include it.

{ Sweater: c/o Tailor & Stylist (10% off your purchase with the code storyofmylife10), Pants: J.Crew, Boots: Franco Sarto (similar), Bag: Theit, Hat: Banana Republic (past season) }

Monday, 28 January 2013


So, it's a really providential thing that I acquired a new bicycle around the same time that Matthew and I discovered Gourdough's doughnuts here in town, because without this new, fun form of exercise and with the edition of our obsession with said doughnuts, I would probably be well on my way to morbid obesity.

YOU GUYS. THESE DOUGHNUTS. It was just an innocent dinner out at Elizabeth Street, when I said to Matthew, "hey, let's try Gourdough's food truck in the parking lot across the way... I hear they're really awesome." Matthew wasn't feeling too well at the time, but he grumblingly went along with me, though he decided not to partake in his own doughnut. I bought the Son of a Peach one and took it to-go. On the way home I dived in, and holy mother effing sinfully deliciousness, y'all. I literally started yelling out strange combinations of obscenities when I took my first bite (which makes very little sense, given my mouth was having the time of its life), and I even nearly teared up at one point (PMS). Matthew was like, "what is wrong with you?" and I was like "here, try this," and I handed him over a forkful and then he, too, began cursing in a strange and senseless manner and proceeded to eat half of the rest of my doughnut.

We went back for breakfast the very next morning, and again this weekend. I've tried the Son of a Peach, Granny's Pie, and Cherry Bombs, and Matthew had a make-your-own flavor and the Black Out. So far, Granny's Pie was my favorite, with Son of a Peach in close second.

So, consider this a public service announcement to those of you in Austin who haven't tried Gourdough's yet, or to those of you who plan to ever visit Austin and want to give your taste buds a reeeeal fun ride.

I don't know about the Mother Clucker, Flying Pig, and Porkey's. But I'd be willing to give 'em a try.

this is what happens when you eat Gourdough's. Big, gleeful smiles from normally stoic men like Matthew. Also, see all that gray in his beard? Law school did that, not me. (I don't care what he says)

Happy Monday, my friends. :)

Etsy Business Card Roundup + My Favorite Cards From Alt

One of my favorite parts of Alt is coming home with a slew of amazing business cards. When you are attending a conference full of creatives you better believe people are going to pull out all the stops.

Jane of the blog See Jane Blog included her business card with an adorable mini pom-pom garland kit. She's going to be opening up a pom pom party hat shop soon and this little kit was the perfect way to get us excited!

I loved the idea that Nicole Hill Gerulat  had of giving out a little envelope full of photography and design tips from her classes.

I think this accordion style card from the is really creative!

My favorite card was this little mending kit in the cutest bag made by Miranda the blogger behind One Little Minute.

I believe a business card can say a lot about a person which is why I've curated a roundup of my favorite business cards found on Etsy for you today.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Pantry Details: No Sew Curtain, Tiered shelf, & Step Stool

I'm back with some DIY details from the pantry project!

But first, I wanted to share a little snippet of our last weekend. We took a road trip with some friends to Savannah for the 3-day weekend (our second time there, we went for our anniversary two years ago) and had so much fun. The best fried seafood and drinks (chocolate daiquiris from Wet Willy's... omg.) and entertainment and stores and architecture and history. Love this city. Next time we'll keep driving for a couple more hours and stop in Charleston—heard it was a must-see!

I booked a "haunted pub crawl" called Boos & Brews for Saturday night. We stopped at the local (haunted) bars and were guided around the streets and cemeteries with real ghost stories—for the record, I don't believe any of it but it's fun when you're drinking ;)

Here we are getting ready to leave the first pub!

Here's one of the old haunted houses:

For our last stop, we went to the Moon River Brewery (which has been on Ghost Hunter shows) and they took us up into the attic where the ghost/orb sightings are common...

I didn't capture anything on my camera, but for whatever reason the spirits were posing for Brad's. He caught "orbs" in a bunch of his photos... like this one:

And check it out... we zoomed into this photo and look what we found:

See the face? Just below the white spot? Looks like some old guy with a mustache looking straight at you. Creepy. (ok, not really, but it would be if it was real).

Anyway, enough with the ghost stories. Let's get to the pantry!


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Photo frames in the foyer. What do you think?

I recently acquired 4 picture frames. A couple of 78cm x 62cm and a couple of 54cm x 54cm ones. I cut out a template of the smaller one and used black electrical tape to create a border. I am thinking of maybe hanging them in the foyer, on either side of the front doors. What do you think? There is a light switch on the left of the doors, so maybe it will throw out the symmetry out of whack a bit too much?

Would love to hear your thoughts. As always.

Here is a photo for K :)
Please ignore the prints, and the colour of the frames.

Nat, this is the layout of our foyer:


Or, should we hang them on the little wall between the powder room and garage door, one on top of the other?

Or the little wall in the formal lounge near the window (currently family room) - left pic in the bottom row.
The wall in between the powder room and garage. Left pic in the bottom row is of  our future formal lounge.

PS. In case you were wondering why I've been quiet of late, it's because 3 weeks ago I started a new job as an IT contractor. After almost 8 years in a permanent position, contracting is a big change. It is very demanding, but extremely rewarding. Will see how long I can keep it up :)