Wednesday, October 31, 2012

$2 Chipotle Boo-ritos

Happy Halloween! For the finance and accounting types out there, I hope you enjoy performing a physical inventory of your candy tonight :)

For those who don't plan on meticulously documenting their treats, Chipotle has other plans for you! Simply wear a costume to your nearest Chipotle between 4pm and close on Halloween and a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos is yours for $2!

What's even better is that they're donating the proceeds, up to $1,000,000 to The Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, their non-profit organization committed to creating a more sustainable and healthful food supply and to raising awareness concerning food issues.

And yes, that was my Halloween costume at work this year. I was a blinged out "precious metals hedge" and my coworker was a "Canadian foreign exchange rate hedge." If you chuckled at that, I salute you!
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Huggable Investment

Me and Rumm Pudding

Ready for a random fact that I haven't shared with you recently? My family owns alpacas, between 30 and 35 of them. And this past weekend, my Dad was showing four of them in the Chicagoland area. Since John has never been to an alpaca show (I've been to one) and it's always nice to see family, we made the trek to the Lake County Fairgrounds to check things out.

Alpacas are related to llamas, and I like to think they're a smaller, nicer version of llamas. It's been a while since I've seen the alpacas, and I forgot how cute and fuzzy they are.

Perfect Rumm
My Dad (and technically Magical Farms, where these alpacas are boarded) brought Rumm Pudding, Perfect Rumm, Pale Ale, and Midnight Delight to show. By the time we got there, Perfect Rumm had already won Reserve Color Champion in his color class. That means he took second overall for true black male huacaya alpacas. Midnight Delight also won a blue ribbon.

Pale Ale

We did get to see Pale Ale strut his stuff. He took 3rd in his age and color class. The first and second place winners in his class ended up being first and second overall for their color, so he clearly had some stiff competition.

Midnight Delight and Rumm Pudding
What possessed my parents to "get into" alpacas? To be frank, for the tax benefits. Then there's the side benefit of the fleece, which my Mom and sister use to knit hats, scarves, mittens, and blankets. We also have to amazing woven alpaca rugs in our bedroom. And, of course, an alpaca is much cuter than a bar of gold. Sure, a bar of gold doesn't need to be fed or cared for, but where's the fun in that?

Will John and I ever get into the alpaca biz? Definitely not in the near future. Though it's fun to hear updates from my parents and help them pick names for any newborn alpacas.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Party Best

Lee Angel Silver Etienne necklace and Mark & James by Badgley Mischka Draped Dream dress via Rent the Runway,
Kate Spade small square studs, Kate Spade Post Street Little Adair clutch, J. Crew Sasha suede pumps

Happy Friday! And a happy Friday's Fancies to {av}! It's her 100th week of posting Friday's Fancies outfits and she invited us to celebrate by pulling together our party best. We have an out of town wedding coming up, so why not kill two birds with one stone by sharing my outfit inspiration?

While looking through my closet, I was feeling a little meh about my dress options. Most of my dresses are of the summer variety or I've already worn a dress to events with some of the other wedding attendees. Sure, I could reaccessorize, but I wanted to wear something new.

After reading countless success stories about Rent the Runway, I decided to take the plunge. Yes, pun intended :) For less than $100, I'll have that gorgeous Mark & James by Badgley Mischka dress (in two sizes!) and Lee Angel necklace waiting for me at the hotel. And then all I have to do is pop them in the mail before flying home.

A killer outfit and lighter suitcase? Why didn't I check this out sooner?!

Have you ever rented something from Rent the Runway? How did it go? You better believe I'll report back after the wedding.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Let There be Light

In the spirit of learning new things, John and I tend to tackle home improvement projects on our own before calling in the experts. Sometimes it works out: John fixed our leaky toilet and I fixed a slow drain. Other times, we're less successful.
For example, John (with the help of his dad) was able to install a dimmer switch in our basement. With this new found confidence, we tried to install a dimmer switch in our kitchen. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. Our 1950's home has multi-colored wiring*, so things weren't as straight-forward as the instructions on the dimmer switch. We even opened up multiple light switches to compare the wiring. Too bad one switch had red, white, and blue wires, while a different one had orange, purple, and green.
After putting things off for over a year, we finally called in the professionals. For a little more than $100, we had new dimmer switches in our kitchen and in our back room. And it was well worth it. We supported a local business and have peace of mind that the electrical work was done properly.
Have you had to call in a professional for a DIY project that went wrong?
* We learned that the multi-colored wiring isn't just for aesthetics. The different colors tell the electrician which outlet is connected to which fuse.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

A Work Appropriate Halloween Costume

Rosie the Riveter, Madewell chambray shirt, polka dot head scarf,
Nars Dragon Girl lip pencil, Gap jeans and belt, TOMS suede booties

Halloween is right around the corner and there's still a little time to concoct the perfect costume. I have two big meetings at work the day of our Halloween party and costume contest, so I'm thinking of wearing something that's executive-appropriate, but can also be accessorized when the time calls.

Taking my cue from Jessica of What I Wore, Rosie the Riveter could be the perfect option. Bonus points if you walk around with a tool belt with some hardware. Though I'm thinking of wearing something a little more accounting and finance related (think hedges).

Do you have a Halloween party at work? What do you plan on wearing?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All Quiet on the Midwestern Front

Lest you think I've jetted off to a faraway land, the reality is that life has trumped blogging for the moment. But don't you worry. There are good things happening in the background. For example:

Currently building: Construction of our new coffee table/ottoman continues! Last night, our wooden box became a padded box. And I started to cut and sew together the fabric to cover said padded box. This tutorial on Design*Sponge was extremely helpful. And I learned the hard way that it's always better to order the extra yard of fabric.

Currently brewing: Our "estate grown" Chinook hops have been put to use in a red rye ale. We'll see how it turns out in the next week or two.

Currently wearing: My new Frye Paige boots arrived yesterday! My first reaction is that she's a keeper. I love the dark chocolate brown leather and was able to tuck my jeggings into them. But I still want to wear them around the house a little more before making the final decision.

What's going on with you?

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Falling for Frye

Gold dinosaur earrings from huiyitan, Olive metallic leather tote from Gift Shop Brooklyn,
Frye Paige tall riding boots, J. Crew Nili Lotan open cable sweater, J. Crew toothpick ankle cords

Hi, there! I'm keeping things on the short and sweet side because it's Friday!

Remember how I talked about getting new brown leather boots? I finally took a trip to Nordstrom to try a few pairs on. Either I have funny-shaped calves and ankles or I'm picky! Yes, my calves are muscular from running, so it's probably a little bit of both.

Of the boots I tried on, Frye's Paige looked the best, but they didn't have the dark brown in stores. So I'm patiently waiting for the boots to be delivered. We'll see if Paige gets to stick around or if I send her packing!

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lunch Lady

Thermos travel coffee mug, Glasslock food containers, Built NY lunch bags,
Lunchskins sandwich bags via Jess Lively, CB2 Hi lunch bag

Anyone else think of this SNL skit after reading the title?

While I've been focusing on bigger financial wins such as negotiating and refinancing, I still keep up with smaller money saving habits.

For example, I primarily bring my coffee and lunch to work. Sure, there are days that I buy a lunch or coffee pumpkin spice latte for a change of pace, a change of scenery, or to be social. Though most days you'll see me enjoying a turkey sandwich or some leftovers with fruit, yogurt, or other snack. Not just for the financial benefits, but also for the health benefits. If I ate a Chipotle burrito every day, I'd start to look like a burrito.

While we're on the topic of lattes, Brittney Castro wrote a thoughtful post on The Everygirl about evaluating your values and related spending habits. Spoiler alert: It's OK to buy lattes if that fits in with your overall money values!

And just for fun (it is almost lunchtime), I'd like to share an infographic created by about bringing your own lunches and coffee to work.

Do you prefer to bring your lunch to work or do you go out to eat? Anyone care to share creative lunch ideas?

Brown Bagging Infographic

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stone Brewing Smoked Porter Chocolate and Chai Cupcakes

Did you watch any of the Presidential Debate? I'm not usually one for political discourse, but have to say that Romney owned it.

Now back to the topic du jour....cupcakes.

Remember how we hosted a birthday party for John's dad? When it came time to decide on the dessert, I knew I'd be baking. It had to be chocolate and there was already a request for the Stone Smoked Porter chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel cream cheese frosting. But I wanted to try something new too. Yes, I'm that person that makes new recipes for a party.

Fortunately, it wasn't a total risk. The bottom half of the cupcake was already tested and deemed John's favorite cupcake that I've ever baked. He could be found enjoying quite a few bald (sans frosting) smoked porter cupcakes. Sometimes chocolate cakes or cupcakes can be dry, but the sour cream is the trick to keeping them moist.

After a little searching on one of my favorite foodie blogs, Eat Live Run, I found my answer: chai buttercream. Seasonally appropriate (I looove cinnamon). A little something different. But not too strange.

Yes, those are mustache candles
The verdict: a.mazing and birthday approved. These cupcakes are sophisticated and a touch sassy with the cinnamon.


Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chai Buttercream
Cupcake adapted from The Brooklyn Kitchen
Frosting adapted from Eat Live Run


1 cup flavorful dark beer – I used Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter. You can also use somethig like Rogue Mocha Porter, Lagunitas Cappucino Stout, or Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (I used Medaglia D'Oro)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350*.

Combine the beer and butter in a large sauce pan and heat to melt.

Remove from heat; whisk in the cocoa, sugar, and espresso.

In your mixer, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. Add the beer mixture a little at a time. It'll still be warm (or hot) and you don't want scrambled eggs.

Sift together the flour and baking soda, and fold into the batter. Mix until combined.

Pour into cupcake pan (you can go a little more than ¾ full on these) and bake for 20-25 minutes for regular-sized cupcakes and 10-12 minutes for mini's. Test with a toothpick to be sure they're baked through.

Cool completely on a rack.

Chai Frosting

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
About 3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 chai teabags
2 T boiling water
2 T milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon (heaping if you love cinnamon like me)

Beat the butter in a mixer with the whisk attachment until soft.

Brew the tea in the two tablespoons of boiling water and let sit for ten minutes to steep. Then, add the milk.

Add the chai tea mixture, cinnamon, and the powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) to the butter and continue to beat for 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Frost liberally :)
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekend Projects

Hi, friends! Did you have a good weekend? Mine was restful and productive. At least in regards to the back room.

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First up was the Saturday night paint-fest, partially inspired by Danielle's (and Lara's) artwork. While John was at his 10-year high school reunion, I busted out the paint and Pandora Radio after a quick trip to Michael's for a few more supplies. I think the last time I painted was for this project, so it was nice to get the creative juices flowing again.

I also created a second painting and pulled together a few more items for the back room gallery/TV wall. I can't wait to share how the whole room is coming together!

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Sunday was months (maybe years) of mental scheming finally coming to fruition. I've wanted to make an upholstered ottoman or coffee table for quite some time now. Perhaps this DIY-ed upholstered ottoman on Young House Love, planted the seed?

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After an excruciating trip to Joann Fabrics (John and I couldn't agree on a fabric); we picked up the items on our Home Depot list. Mainly wood cut to size, Liquid Nails, actual nails, and table legs. John helped me build this naked, legless box, which will soon be clothed in this fabric. Get excited!

What were you up to this weekend?
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