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Pic of the Week.

Not pictured: monumental pile of used Kleenex.

Not pictured: monumental pile of used Kleenex.

‘Tis here. Every. Single. Year. Without fail, every single time fall rolls around, I get sick. It has been this way since I was a child — only then, at least I could blame it on being stuck in a classroom with a bunch of dirty kids.

Now? I suppose I’m stuck in an office with all of their parents. Go figure.

The weird thing is, I went to bed Friday night feeling fine, and then woke up Saturday morning with a full-blown cold. Sniffles, chills, you name it.

I had enough drugs in my bathroom closet to hold me over until Sunday afternoon, but then, I had to crawl out of bed and venture somewhere.

I must’ve had a high fever, because I decided Wal-Mart would be the PERFECT place to go to grab a few grocery-like items and cold medicine.

BUT WHY?!

I swear to God, if I had a dollar for every bitch-face I received while trying to find Kleenex in Wal-Mart, I would be rich. That, or just how many times I almost get ran-over by a crazy cart person.

Anyway, I made it through the checkout after waiting in line for 20 minutes (and getting my jollies from the woman in front of me buying frozen hot wings and MAGNUM condoms).

I went home, took my meds and went back to bed… I awoke only because I had a movie date that night (more on this later), and I layered on so much makeup to hide my raw-red nose, and loaded up on meds to avoid sneezing during the flick. I couldn’t help from sniffle a few times, but for that I was equipped with a pocket-full of Kleenex.

Of course, everyone hates being sick. I especially hate living alone when I’m sick because I totally give myself a pity party, and the only person who comes is Blanche, and let’s face facts, Blanche doesn’t really give much of a fuck, she just has nowhere else to go (believe me, if she could figure out how to unlock the front door, she’d be on her way to Dixieland in a heartbeat).

The only good thing about being sick now, is that it’s not a holiday — often, I get sick during Thanksgiving or Christmas, which just seems like bad Karma, and nothing else.

And although it seems like just a cold, I always nurse it as much as possible, because in the past, I’ve had pneumonia, strep throat, and mono. Not good.

If you’re feeling the fall flu like me, I can say I swear by Zarbee’s Cough & Throat Relief Nighttime Drink, peppermint essential oil, and the Hallmark Channel. Lots of good, sappy movies to help me rest easy.

Until next time… ACCHHOOOWWWW!

Oh, there goes my self-esteem.

Lily Ghalichi looking perfect.

Lily Ghalichi looking perfect.

I know that everyone has their “thing” — the thing that makes you insecure in the blink of an eye. Chances are, it’s illogical, it’s all mental, whatever it is. But it’s there, and mine has been bugging me for years.

My thing? It’s those perfect girls. The ones that seem like they just have everything, or everything that’s good in this world. They’ve got money, looks, friends, family, a great job (or better yet, no job and a trust fund)…

In the past, I’ve dated guys whom I thought were attractive, and it made me feel confident and sexy to have a good-looking man by my side. But the second we stepped into a bar with a cute little waitress, or a fancy restaurant with a class-act hostess, my confidence deflated. Would he think she’s prettier than me?

In general, I think I’m an attractive person. Not necessarily because of the way I look, but I do think I have a lot to offer someone, as a friend, and as a partner.

But it doesn’t matter how great I feel walking out the door in the morning, if I cross paths with one of these perfect chicks, I all of the sudden feel defeated. Why does this happen?

A few years ago, my girlfriend and I went out on a Saturday night. I felt great, I was working some new, black hot pants and a cute top. And then, she ran into a group of girls she knew. They gave us both the once-over, and continued on their way after a short conversation, mentioning they were out looking for guys.

They were done-up, although in jeans, their hair looked professionally done, makeup full-blown, finished with crisp, white teeth.

“I always feel insecure when I see girls like that,” I told my friend.

“Yeah, but they’re single,” she said.

And she had a point. So why was I so torn up about it? Whenever I get the chance, I poise this question to guy friends, pointing out the most-perfect girl in the room.

“She’s on that level of hot that I just can’t get to,” I’ll say.

“Yeah, but no one’s taking her home to mom,” is usually the response I get.

So why does it still bother me? Actually, you know what bothers me? When these girls look perfect at the gym. It’s like they don’t even sweat.

Most of the time, I attempt to rationalize and talk myself down from my nearly-unstoppable jealousy. Because most of these perfect humans I see aren’t natural — hair extensions, false eyelashes, professional makeup, fillers and surgeries… when I’ve got nice, natural hair, real lashes, real boobs, and if I can get to the gym four times a week, my stomach is pretty flat!

The only thing I can really blame this on is that somehow, at some point, I got this insecurity rooted inside of my brain. And I know, that there’s a guy out there (somewhere) who thinks I’m perfect, and no one else.

And deep down, I know that no one is perfect, and that everyone has something in their life they wish they could change… it’s all just a matter of how you feel on the inside.

Hey, Halloween: Drop dead!

Where's my stationary?

Where’s my stationary?

After much thought, I decided to forgo a Fresh Friday post, since it’s Halloween — even though I pretty much despise this day… or do I? If you know me personally, you know I’m a scaredy-cat all year ’round.

I’m terrified of someone breaking into my apartment, scared of being attacked in a parking garage (or anywhere, for that matter), getting caught up in a mass shooting, etc.

But most of the time, I’m able to hide my fears and live a normal life (although I always search for the exits in movie theaters, and I stopped going inside banks)… until Halloween-time rolls around. Then, it’s really difficult to avoid the scary movies on TV, previews at the theater, people in-costume, and invitations to haunted houses.

Seriously, when did I get so scared?

As a kid, I enjoyed Halloween — dressing up in a costume, and joining my neighborhood friends down every street to see just how much candy we could get (I remember having to make pit stops to dump candy from our buckets, in order to fit more). While I enjoyed trick-or-treating, there were those few houses in the neighborhood that really went all out, and if it weren’t for peer pressure, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the front door.

At the end of the night, my friend Emily and I would sort through our piles, dividing the candy (sorting it by name, or “like” and “don’t like”), and eating as much of our loot as possible before morning.

In middle and high school, I actually loved going to SEE scary movies! Imagine that! I loved the thrill, I screamed and then laughed at myself for being so scared.

In college, I wore slutty costumes, partied, and probably drank a cauldron full of witch’s brew every Halloween.

But it wasn’t until I graduated college that I started to realize just how scary this time of year is. I remember the night it happened, I went with a girlfriend to see a scary movie. And when I got home, I spent hours pacing my apartment, looking under the bed, checking the closets, and I couldn’t sleep.

All of the sudden, scary stuff wasn’t so silly.

And sure, I do realize that the things in movies aren’t likely to happen. But, if I’m being honest here, I have nightmares at least once a week. Not little scary dreams about Casper, actual nightmares that wake me up in sweat, and it takes a snuggle with my kitty and an hour of QVC to get back to sleep.

It’s been this way for years. I’m not sure what causes it, although I’m sure stress is most of it, or perhaps it’s just a random string of thoughts that scares me shitless. Either way, I know that a haunted house or a scary movie just might send me into a weeklong bout of insomnia.

A few years ago, my office really wanted to celebrate Halloween. Someone suggested a haunted house, and I quickly opted out. One coworker simply could not believe WHY I wouldn’t want to go to a haunted house.

“I’m actually terrified of that kind of thing,” I told her. She was appalled, and said I seemed like “the kind of person who would be into it.”

Well, things aren’t always as they seem, right?

I wish I were more into Halloween, but I’m just not. And, as my mom told me a few years ago, I was even scared of costumes and clowns as a child. So, perhaps this is just me, finally admitting that stuff is scary out there… so if it’s okay with you, I’ll just stay in and watch Countdown to Christmas on the Hallmark Channel.

Single Girl Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Homemade pumpkin spice latte

Homemade pumpkin spice latte

Maintaining a healthy diet is always a struggle, but I find it to be an ENORMOUS challenge when the cooler months roll around — the swimsuits are gone, sweets are everywhere, and there’s a constant crave for comforting foods. It’s tough!

But no matter how difficult it is, I know I feel better when I’m putting good stuff into my body. And that doesn’t mean everything has to be boring or bland.

One of my favorite flavors of the fall season is, of course, pumpkin (although I do feel like the whole pumpkin thing has gotten out of control this year) and I always look forward to Starbucks’ release of the PSL. But let’s face it, that thing is full of fat and sugar that my waistline just cannot handle.

So, you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an easy, homemade version of the PSL that’s waaaayyy healthier and just as delicious!

This recipe is from the gals at Tone It Up!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Shots of espresso, or 1 cup of coffee
  • 1 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 Packet of Stevia
  • 2 tbs Pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp allspice)

Blend ingredients together before adding coffee or espresso.

Want to kick it up even more? Use pumpkin spice coffee for an extra pumpkin POW, and/or whip some almond milk until frothy, and spoon over the top of your latte for an official taste and feel.

Keep things convenient and make a bigger batch of this, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge, so you can just pour and enjoy in the mornings! Time to cozy up — without the guilt.

Own your bed head!

I wish my bed head looked this good.

I wish my bed head looked this good.

Recently, Casper, a mattress company that specializes in making outrageously comfortable latex memory foam mattresses, brought forth a good point to me — a good night’s sleep often results in a mess of hair come morning. But so what? Why are we constantly running from the bed head, instead of embracing it? So, Casper, challenge ACCEPTED!

When I got to thinking about it, I’ve been rocking bed head for a few years now. I workout after work, which means a shower (and washing my hair) is a must. Because I have colored hair, I try to keep heat away from my locks as much as possible. So, I wash my hair at night and I go to bed with it wet, leaving it to air dry.

Truth be told, I do keep a comb in my shower, but rarely do I even comb my hair before going to bed.

Before I was on a regular workout regimen, I would get up early enough to shower, blow dry, and style my hair before work at 8am. I’m not really sure who I was back then, because when my alarm goes off at 6am, not even the smell of my coffee brewing can get me out from under the covers.

But when I finally decide to shuffle into the kitchen, you can bet that my hair looks like total shit. I have wavy/slightly curly hair, so when I wakeup, it looks the same dry as it did when I stepped out of the shower.

So, there’s a few ways I can dress it up in order to actually keep my job.

Hair products

Hair products

If it’s particularly wavy, or even curly, I simply spritz a firm-hold hairspray into the roots and waves, do a little scrunching, finger through some of the curls, and voila, done!

No volume? I use a flexible-hold spray on the roots and use a teasing comb to fluff things up around the part, and near the crown of my head.

Greasy? If it’s really greasy, I blast the blowdryer on it. But most of the time, I put a little loose bronzer in the troubled areas and we’re good to go. Dry shampoo is okay, but I found it’s expensive, and it turns my hair white and sometimes crispy. Yuck.

If I have 20 minutes, I usually straighten at least the top layers, using the bottom waves for volume, along with hairspray and a teasing comb.

Whether I rock it straight or curly, I do have bangs that often determine how I’ll style it, in the end. If they dry weird, then I’m forced to pin them back, or wear a headband. Luckily, I’ve stocked up on cute hair accessories that make it look like ALL of this is completely on purpose.

Miss Blanche Devereaux.

Miss Blanche Devereaux.

Someone who has always owned her bed head is my kitty, Blanche. Blanche is fortunate enough to sleep in the bed with me, on her side, of course. She sleeps on her back, so her long fur can blow in the breeze of the ceiling fan.

But when she wakes up, her fur, especially the longer pieces behind her ears, is often matted. Blanche, I have learned, lives by the motto, “Long hair, don’t care,” as she walks around the apartment as if this is a completely acceptable look.

And I realize, she’s not a member of society, so I let it fly, unless we have company, then I take a wire brush to her fur, and everything is smooth and fluffy, all at once.

The thing is, I know we’ve all heard or read those tricks about waking up to perfect hair… I don’t know about you, but none of that works for me. If I sleep with my hair in a ponytail, it will be flat and greasy in the morning, not “high volume,” and I have shoulder-length hair, so putting it up into one of those cute buns isn’t really an option for me.

What are your tricks for embracing your bed head?

Pictured hair products: Embellished headbands, Bronzing beads, Flexible hold hairspray,  Teasing comb, Hair clips, Cute barrettes

Pic of the Week.

Upping our carving game.

Upping our carving game.

Every year, my friend Marcy has a Pumpkin Carving Party (BYOP), and this year was pretty special because it was the 5th Anniversary of the party! So, Sunday night, we all gathered at Marcy’s, equipped with pumpkins and carving ideas.

As a kid, Halloween was a big deal. My parents really got into decorating the house, and lots of thought went into carving pumpkins — my parents would buy the most difficult templates to complete, even if it meant creating a toothpick-suture to make things looked perfect in the end.

Truth be told, I always get really pumped to carve a pumpkin, but when it comes time to actually scoop the guts out, and get serious about poking all the holes and carving tiny pieces, I’m not really big on it. I only like the part when I light the candle and turn the lights off to see my creation.

Call me lazy, but I admitted to Marcy that if it weren’t for her party, I probably would retire my sad collection of orange plastic carving tools.

This was my third year at the party, the first year I had no idea what to expect, although I heard it was a little competitive. That year, I painted my pumpkin white, and carved Jack Skellington’s (The Nightmare Before Christmas) face… it was easy, but it looked pretty cool.

Last year, I jumped on the Hash Tag craze and shaved “#Pumpkin” into my pumpkin… needless to say, it was a hit on social media. This year, I wasn’t sure what to carve.

I wanted to do something current, and relevant to pop culture, and then I realized, DUH, I’ve been watching The Fault In Our Stars nearly every night before I fall asleep, so why not do a tribute to the book and movie via pumpkin?

There is a line in the book, and a scene in the movie, that revolves around champagne: “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars.”

In the movie, the waiter tells Augustus and Hazel, “We have bottled all the stars for you tonight.”

I love it!

So, I created my own template that features a set of champagne glasses clinking, several different sizes of five-pointed stars, and letters to spell T-F-I-O-S.

While no one at the party really understood what my pumpkin was all about, I love it! I can’t wait to light it up on Halloween night!

2/50 Shades: Cosmo Confetti.

Covergirl's Cosmo Confetti

Covergirl’s Cosmo Confetti

My overflowing collection of pink lip products has been screaming at me to share another shade of pink with you! For the second shade in this series, I could not help but share “Cosmo Confetti” from Covergirl.

Why? Because I’ve been wearing it DAILY for the last two weeks! Cosmo Confetti is from Covergirl’s Queen Collection, with looks and colors created for darker skin. The line is represented by Queen Latifah.

The jumbo gloss balm

The jumbo gloss balm

And while I have fair skin, Cosmo Confetti is offered as a jumbo gloss balm, which is basically a giant lip crayon — my first experience with a lip crayon — and it goes on sheer (no need to bother with a mirror), so even though the color on the packaging looks bright, it’s totally an acceptable hue for all skin tones, and occasions.

I also love this lip product because it really is a “gloss balm,” as it adds moisture and shine to my lips, all at once — who doesn’t appreciate that? Especially with the cool temps quickly approaching!

The only downside? There is no scent, or flavor, like a typical gloss usually offers. It smells/tastes just like lipstick. So, there’s that.

While we’re talking all-things-pink, what’s the rule about rocking pink in the fall months? Can it be done? Of course!

I found a great article on Glamour.com, which explains that those old fashion rules, especially when it comes to colors, are right on out the door. So go ahead, wear your girly hues all year ’round!

And always, always remember to follow the only fashion rule that matters: Whatever you wear, own it.

—Christina Perez, Glamour 

Fresh Friday: Stella Nude.

Stella McCartney runway, Paris.

Stella McCartney runway, Paris.

I couldn’t find a picture of the perfume decent-enough for the big slot, so you’ll have to just admire the fashions (I think these are from 2010, but I’m obsessed with the blue number) of Ms. Stella McCartney, even though I’m talking about one of her fabulous perfumes.

Today’s Fresh Friday scent profile features Stella Nude by Stella McCartney.

I still have so many scents left on my bathroom shelves that when it came time to write this post, I really wasn’t sure which to choose. So, I stuck my hand in my little bag of samples and pulled out Stella Nude, spritzed it on (I like to use 3 sprays), and went out the door.

Stella Nude bottle

Stella Nude bottle

And. It. Smells. Fantastic!

The longer I wear it, I can pick of different parts of the scent — and they’re all very feminine, which is a good quality to have in a perfume.

As described by Sephora: A fragrance based on the contrast between the fresh, soft rose and the dark, sensual amber, Stella is a sophisticated scent focused on intense femininity.

The concept of the Stella McCartney bath line is driven by a passion for ecological and organic cosmetology: selecting the best natural raw materials and capitalizing on vegetal extracts, organic agriculture, and extraction methods that respect and protect the natural life force of the plants.

It really is a beautiful fragrance… I’m glad I was lucky enough to snag a sample bottle!

Dating by Astrology.

Are the stars aligned for love?

Are the stars aligned for love?

I have always been interested in astrology, although I don’t live by it, I love reading my weekly horoscope — scoffing when it’s completely incorrect, and gasping in awe when it’s right on-point. When it comes to dating, I’ve discussed matching via personality test, but what about zodiac compatibility?

Born on July 2, I am a Cancer, meaning:

  • All about home, comfort of family, maternal, domestic, nurturing
  • Loves tradition, patriotic
  • Has a good memory, is emotional
  • Quick to retreat, moody, often vindictive
  • Quick to help others, avoids confrontation
  • Devoted, romantic, listen to their gut

Cancer traits have always fit me to a T, which is probably why I love reading horoscopes and compatibility charts. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look up compatibility as SOON as I get a birthday for the person I’m crushing on. Let’s take this to the charts:

So colorful.

So colorful.

According to this chart, my perfect matches are a Scorpio and a Pisces. Hmm…

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

  • Fiercely independent, like to be in control
  • Moody, possessive, yet loyal
  • Wise in business, ambitious, determined
  • Intense, misunderstood, often secretive

I’ve actually dated several Scorpios, and obviously, things didn’t work out. I have yet to meet a Scorpio that I get along with very well. But, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, stars! If you know of a Scorpio that is single and could be a match, point me in that direction!

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

  • Needs other people to keep them positive, grounded
  • Sensitive, loyal, will go out of their way to help a friend
  • Mysterious, molded by surroundings
  • Intuitive, sensitive, treat others the way they wish to be treated

I do not THINK I’ve ever dates a Pisces (if I did, I obviously have forgotten about it), but perhaps that is my ideal match! Quick, find me a man with a birthday between February 19 and March 20!

Now, I know astrology won’t answer all of my dating woes… but at this point, I’m open to try just about anything.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

—Julius Caesar

 

Fresh Friday: Girlfriend.

The infamous Bieber-face.

The infamous Bieber-face.

There’s no way I can complete a perfume series without addressing Justin Bieber — and this won’t be the last time, given he’s got four different ones.

I’ve got three of the four, and I love them all for different reasons. I picked Girlfriend, because I have a running joke with my friends that if I go out while wearing the fragrance, it’s a guarantee I’ll get hit on. Oddly enough, my now-ex asked me to be his girlfriend on a night I was wearing Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend perfume.

Girlfriend bottle.

Girlfriend bottle.

GRANTED, my now-ex was a complete douche and I wish I never dated him, but that is not my point.

As described by Ulta:

Flirty, personal and inviting, Girlfriend draws you in with its fresh, eye-catching bottle, wrapped in gold lacing, topped with a revolutionary magnetic cap. From there, feel GIRLFRIEND wrap around your skin and make its way to your lips, giving you that first-kiss feeling with each splash. Every touch, every breath – all captured in a flirty scent. Dare to Get Closer?

Top notes in Girlfriend are said to be mandarin, blackberry, pear, strawberry, pink freesia, star jasmine, apricot, orange blossom, vanilla orchid, luminous musk, and white amber.

Whether you like the Biebs or not, this scent is delicious! …And the commercial for it is sexy. #SorryNotSorry

Coolest Fan Mail… Ever!

Cover idea from a reader!

Cover idea from a reader!

Monday night, I received some fan mail from a reader in Indianapolis. She, Samantha, drew this after reading my first book, How I Fell, and then she transferred it to Photoshop.

Umm… how cute is it?! I actually like it better than my original cover, but don’t tell anyone. Without even knowing it, Samantha drew me wearing a pair of heels that look like some I actually have!

Recently, I’ve started getting notes, and links to articles and blogs you (my readers) think I need to see — I love this!

So, if you think there’s something out there I need to see, please send it my way via the comments, Twitter, Facebook, or feel free to email me directly at Wittywriter7@gmail.com

Thank you for my drawing, Samantha! And thanks for reading!

Why are men obsessed with their jobs?

Yep, always working.

Yep, always working.

I’ve dated several men who are obsessive over work. I’m talking always working late, working on the weekends, using work as an excuse as to why we can’t meet for lunch or why it takes him 8 hours to respond to a text message.

And while the men of my past are probably horrible examples (because I think most of them hated me), I notice it even when I’m just “talking” to a guy.

Yes, I do appreciate a man who works hard, and who’s got goals — let’s face it, none of us would be dating a guy that didn’t have a job!

But isn’t there some sort of balance? While I do work hard and get my job done, I’m not obsessive. My career is different from my job. And at my job, hard work doesn’t pay off. So, I obsess over other things instead, like blogging, or freelance writing, or drumming up new ideas for books.

YOLO, folks. And I know that at the end of my life, I’m sure as hell not going to be wishing I worked harder.

So how can us ladies deal with our overworked men?

For starters, it’s important to understand that men are wired to be providers. Work means money, and working hard, could mean a promotion or a better job down the line, which means he can give a comfortable life for his family (which could mean YOU)!

However, there does have to be a balance, especially depending on what stage the relationship is at. An article on CNN.com explains that a workaholic is definitely different than someone who just has great work ethic and/or who loves their job.

Cutting to the chase, if the guy is obsessed with his job, and the relationship isn’t worth saving, then don’t. I dated someone for years who always chose work obligations and even weekend functions over spending time with me. It was hurtful, and I often pictured us years down the road, being married, and him still ditching me for an office crawfish boil (for which I was never invited to).

But if the relationship is serious, and worth saving, there are some things you can do to compromise.

  • Communicate. If there’s a project that needs overtime hours, perhaps that can be the night you go out with the girls.
  • Plan ahead, and keep them! Breaking vacations or an important dinner with the parents is where things really get rocky — plan ahead for these events, so your guy can work around them.
  • Get busy. When a boyfriend used his time to work, I used my time to do ME. Read a book you love, get a manicure, finish a project, visit the museum. Whether or not the relationship works, you’ll have improved yourself and not wasted a drop of time.

Save the Date: October 17.

Nope, I’m not getting married.

But I am judging a Pop Culture Hair Show on October 17, right here in Baton Rouge and I’m SO (or should I say “SEAUX”) excited!

Join me, along with the amazing team at The Garrett Neal Studio (yes, this is where I get my hair done) Friday, October 17, starting at 8pm, right in the hair studio. Here’s what the Facebook event says:

Be sure to come support our stylists with their first “in-salon” hair show! Enjoy seeing the creativity behind these master minds with their Avant Garde looks and uniquely created Up-Cycled looks. Mix and mingle with some of your fellow Baton Rouge friends! Enjoy a great time with wine and food catered by Zorba’s Greek Bistro. 

Not only will I be judging the hair show, but I’ll also be there with books and some merchandise from my Bitter Lemon store. Really, I just want to meet other creatives, and if you’re a reader, I’d love to say hello and snap a picture together!

So mark your calendars for the 17th, and I hope to see y’all there!

Pic of the Week.

Yes, that's a leopard-print glue gun.

Yes, that’s a leopard-print glue gun.

Hobby Lobby has officially dumped the contents of its shelves into my apartment — and it is a beautiful, sparkly mess — which, is actually really exciting for my kitty, Blanche.

After that crappy week I told you all about, I was really excited to get involved in a good craft project.

Every year, one of my best girlfriends and her boyfriend compete in a Gumbo Cook-off. Three years ago, they asked me if I wanted to join their team. Let’s see, tons of Southern food, gumbo, beer, and people-watching? HELLS YES.

So now, it has become an October tradition to pack up our cars, drive an hour away, and spend the weekend cooking (and eating) delicious food. It’s something I look forward to every year.

While our team is smaller than most of the teams we’re competing against, we’ve stepped up our game these last few years — selling out of gumbo, sporting matching shirts and aprons, and this year, I volunteered to decorate our booth!

Every year, the Gumbo Cook-off has a theme. In previous years, it’s been things like “America the Beautiful,” or “Choot ‘Em” (Swamp People). This year, the theme is “25th Anniversary.”

Umm, because of course the year that I decide to decorate, they would have the theme be something un-fun, and really freaking difficult to figure out.

At first, I was just thinking I could have silver decorations (since 25 is year of silver). And then I decided that was lame and boring. Then I was just thinking about gumbo itself — chicken, sausage, bell peppers, onions, etc. I was imagining strands of faux veggie garland.

But… turns out, plastic veggies are super expensive. So, fail.

Over brunch, one of my guy friends suggested a play on words: Twenty Fifths…as in, 20 bottles of alcohol.

At first, I wasn’t sold. But once I got to Hobby Lobby, I went down every aisle and starting seeing some different options where I could make the “20 fifths” thing work.

So, two hours later, I had my cart filled with hot glue sticks, scrapbook paper, twine, bottles, mason jars, faux plants, mini martini glasses, and small Solo cups, among other things.

It took me all week, but I made:

Table Banner — “Cheers to 20 Fifths” using the scrapbook paper. I used 20 sheets of scrapbook paper, traced bottles of Jack Daniels and wine on them, painted the bottles black, and trimmed the paper into equal rectangles. Then, I used the twine and tiny clothespins to make it a hangable banner.

Table Decor — Hobby Lobby had these giant cardboard-ish numbers, so I bought a 2-0, and then a large glass wine bottle, which I painted “5ths” on it, and filled it with faux hay and glittery, silver sticks (to signify 25). To add a little something extra, I found a stockpile of beer bottle caps, which I glued to the numbers. Finally, a use for the things I hoard!

Cocktail Garland — I used the small, red Solo cups, along with the tiny, plastic martini glasses to create a cocktail garland (using the twine). Holes were poked into the cups and strung, then I used hot glue to secure it (I didn’t want the cups to move). I hot glued the twine to the martini glasses, so the garland would be Solo cup-tini-cup-tini, etc. To add some detail, I hot glued toothpicks with tiny faux olives on them (I made these) into the glasses.

Tent decor — I used the mason jars to fill with faux hay, glittery silver sticks, and other flowers, along with wine corks. I know this doesn’t have a direct relation to our “drinking” theme, but I really just wanted something that would decorate the sides (the legs) of our tent, and I couldn’t think of anything that would really catch people’s eyes.

While I’m not sure if we will be in the running to win the decorations-portion of the competition, I think people will at least appreciate our love for booze. If you’re indoors crafting this week, good luck! Make something beautiful.

Boyfriend Recipe: Turkey & bean chili.

Yummmm.

Yummmm.

When I think of fall, I think of football, and when I think of football, I think of CHILI. I don’t even like football, but I LOVE chili! I grew up eating chili, and it always makes me think of my dad.

So, I’ve spent years trying to perfect a chili that I can call my go-to. While I have about four different chili recipes that I cook each fall, this one is definitely my favorite (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe).

Chances are, a few different boyfriends have tasted this, and if you date me, you’ll be added to the list. But seriously, it’s a crowd pleaser. Husbands and boyfriends, you will thank me.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3lbs of turkey (I like breast tenderloins, but ground is great, too)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 c garlic, minced
  • 3tb chili powder
  • 3tb unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1c water (I use homemade stock, or feel free to toss a cup of beer in there)
  • 4ts ground cumin
  • 2tb molasses (sub with brown sugar, if needed)
  • 2 28oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans of beans (I use kidney or pinto)

This is the awesome part — use your crock pot! Cook the meat first: brown ground meat, or pop the tenderloins in the oven for 20 minutes, just to get the cooking started. Cook the bacon until crispy, and crumble it into the pot. Toss all the ingredients in, and set on low for 6 hours. Easy!

If you’re using the tenderloins, I put them in the crock pot whole, then after about 4 hours of cooking, I shred the meat and put it back in to soak up the spices.

Top it with chips, cheese, avocado, guacamole, sour cream (plain Greek yogurt for my ladies on a diet) — whatever you please!. This chili is good for you, and your guy will absolutely love it!

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