Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Favorites

Hi! Long time, no chat! I hope those of you in the States enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I sure did! To ease back into things, I thought I would share my brief encounters with some of my favorite bloggers.

Two of the first blogs I ever started reading were Young House Love and Smitten Kitchen. (I think they were these respective posts, if you're curious.) And they're still two of my favorites.

As luck would have it, both of their book tours brought them to Chicago. I felt like a mediocre fan driving from down the street compared to the super-fans that drove hundreds of miles and waited hours before the event even started. Regardless, it was fun meeting John, Sherry, and Deb.

First up was meeting John and Sherry of Young House Love. They were at the West Elm in Lincoln Park and I naively thought I'd be able to see them and do a little shopping while John was playing a basketball game. While in line, I kept thinking about what I would say to them. It's almost like waiting in line for Santa. Trying to think of the perfect thing to say and rehearsing it in your head to make sure it sounds just right. Three hours later (!!!) it was my turn.

Of course, they were friendly and perfectly charming. Sherry complemented me on my Bean necklace and blog name. I, on the other hand, blurted out how much I love them and use their spray painting tutorials and am currently building an upholstered coffee table/ottoman and like shiny things (in response to Sherry's complement of my necklace). Yes, I had a slight case of word vomit.

So when it was time to meet Deb of Smitten Kitchen the following weekend, I was prepared. Her book signing was in Lincoln Square at The Book Cellar, a local bookstore with a cafe. This time, I went with my sister-in-law and we made sure to leave early. This book signing was extremely organized in that we were assigned a numbered letter and only had to be back when our letter was called. That gave us the opportunity to walk around Lincoln Square, get some gelato, and pop into the many shops.

Meeting Deb was also super-quick and of course she was just a normal person that writes a blog with millions of readers and now has a book. I warned my sister-in-law of my word vomiting ways, so it's no surprise that I blurted out how much we love Deb's son and think he's the cutest kid ever. At least I restrained myself enough to keep from saying she and her husband should have another baby soon!

Have you ever met a celebrity or big-name blogger before? Tell me I'm not the only one that blurts out random things while talking with them!

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Mom's Apple Pie

Thanksgiving is this week and I can't wait for all the homemade goodies! The turkey! The stuffing (who cares if I like Stove Top)! The side dishes! And the pies! Oh, the pies!

For my extended family holidays, my parents always host Thanksgiving. Which meant the weekend before and week of Thanksgiving was a flurry of cleaning and preparations. Most years, the apple and pumpkin pies were made from scratch (minus the crust). If my Mom ran out of time and bought pies from the store, we were sorely disappointed.

First, because homemade pies are superior.

And second, so we could sneak some of the cinnamon sugar apples. My Mom always made extra apples for the filling knowing a portion of them would never make it into the pie.

Which is why this recipe calls for heaps of apples. A few slices go to "quality control" and a few more are snacked on by John and me.

I may have cut a few corners by using Pillsbury pie crust, but nobody was complaining.

And the pie still looks homemade because I haven't mastered my crust fluting skills yet.

Plus, it's what's inside that really counts :)

Mom's Apple Pie
Note: See my Mom's extra tips in the comments.

Crust (for a 9.5 inch 2-crust pie)
I cheated and used Pillsbury. A box of 2 rolled pastry crusts can be found in the cooler near the cans of cresent rolls and biscuits. I don't like using the crust that already comes in the pan.

If you have more time on your hands, you can use Joy the Baker's or Smitten Kitchen's recipes.

Apple Pie Filling
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
9 to 12 cups of thinly sliced pared tart apples* (McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Honeycrisp, etc.)
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 425*.

Prepare the crust (or just roll it out from the box). I like to use a glass pie pan.

Stir together the sugar, flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix well with the apples, trying not to snack on too many of them ;)

Pour the apples into the pie crust and dot with the cubes of butter.

Cover the apples with the top crust. Seal and flute the edges of the crust. And cut 3 or so slits into the top.

Cover the edge with a 2- to 3- inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; removing the foil during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in the crust. Place the pie pan on a cookie sheet while baking to catch any drips.

* - One pound of apples equals 3 medium apples or 3 cups sliced apples

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fiscally Chic Fashion: Rent the Runway

As I wrote in a previous Friday's Fancies post and briefly shared, I rented my first dress and necklace from Rent the Runway. Let me tell you something, ladies. It's A.MAZING! RTR is something I wish I thought of first. John has rented all sorts of tuxes for weddings, so it's about time we have the same option!

As I suspected, the convenience was one of the biggest perks. I didn't have to worry about packing a dress, let alone two sizes of the same dress. I scheduled the dresses and necklace to arrive on a Friday and they arrived at the hotel on that Wednesday. And let's not forget the ease of dropping everything in a mailbox when I was done wearing them.

Another perk of RTR is the option of two dress sizes. I tend to shy away from online shopping because I like to try things on in person. I have a short torso and longer legs, so that makes things nice and interesting. Fortunately, past renters leave reviews of the dress's fit on RTR to help you pick out the proper size.

Of course you should know that the dress itself came in perfect condition. And I loved wearing it! I received several complements and got a kick out of sharing my secret that I rented it :)

If the dress needed a little help staying in place, RTR included a little "fit kit" with some Hollywood Tape. And if neither size worked, RTR has a great risk-free policy where I could return both dresses within 24 hours for a full merchandise credit (less shipping).

For those curious about how much renting a dress and necklace costs, 4-day dress rentals currently run from $40 up to $400. Some of the $400 dresses can totally pass as wedding dresses if you don't want to buy your wedding dress. For the cost breakdown of my order:
  • Dress (in 2 sizes, retails for $325) - $50
  • Insurance on dress - $5
  • Necklace (retails for $125) - $25
  • Insurance on necklace - $3
  • Shipping and handling (includes return shipping) - $9.95
  • Sales tax - $2.70
  • Grand total - $95.65

Yes, RTR includes a small insurance policy with each rental. No need to worry about spilling wine on your dress. And yes, dry cleaning is also included.

Would I do it again? Most definitely! Rent the Runway is perfect for a change in fashion pace.

PS - This isn't a sponsored post, I just really like RTR. And if you sign up through my Rent the Runway referral link, we'll both get $20 off our next orders. Sound cool?

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Kate Spade jewel bar stud earrings, Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale,
Marc by Marc Jacobs mouse slippers, Gap flannel shirt and cords

Now that Halloween has passed, I'm looking forward to the granddaddies of holiday baking: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Anything that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves are fair game. Though I won't turn down chocolate :)

To get into the holiday spirit, I'd love to hunt down my absolute favorite craft beer: Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale. The cinnamon, honey, and all around Christmas cheer can't be beat! It was released at the beginning of November, which tells me I'm not far off in my holiday musings. Good thing Great Lakes has a handy Beer Finder on their website!

As for my Friday's Fancies finery, I'd love to cozy up to a roaring fireplace wearing this outfit and with a frosty Christmas Ale in hand. And those mouse slippers? A touch on the pricey side, but too cute not to include!

Have a cozy weekend!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where I've Been

Hi, friends! As I return to reality after a fantastic long weekend in Denver (yes, that's the dress!), I thought I would share where Fiscally Chic has been recently:

Last week, Lisa of Elembee brought back her "At the Moment" series. There I share what I'm crushing on, dreaming about, and currently up to.

Back in July, I won the MintLife Home Economics Sweepstakes. I recently wrote a few guest posts for MintLife about the experience. The first post has all sorts of before's and after's of our room. And the second post shares tips and tricks to making your DIY home makeover a success.

Finally, hot off the presses is a tip I shared with the Bank of America Small Business Community about selling on Etsy. Many of the tips are applicable to businesses selling products online (not just Etsy) so swing by if you're looking to learn a little something new. [And to give credit where credit is due, Jeff of Sustainable Life Blog sent me the Help a Reporter Out query.]
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