Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Girlfriends Photo Shoot, Part 2

Part 1, in case you missed it.

Aren't my friends so seriously pretty?  I know.

This was definitely my favorite part of the photo shoot.  There was rain, mud, and mosquitoes, but we made it work.  Keely knew of this great location, 'Hobo Village', where stunning graffiti spans the exterior walls of an abandoned warehouse.  We did not actually see any hobos.  Too bad, they would've loved this.


I have no idea how this tutu madness came together so perfectly with such little planning, but it did.  It helped that we already had the tutus, just looking for the next excuse to wear them.  Elaina made Katie's, Keely's and her own tutu.  I have worn my 'Elaina tutu' (last seen here) to death and it needs some mending.  So I squeezed into the biggest tutu I could find at Teeny Bee, removed the lining from a black tutu I had and layered it over the top.  I love how it all coordinated without being super matchy.  Katie stole the show with her massive, teal tutu - which is exactly what we wanted for her birthday/moving present.



Let me explain the connection here:  Katie and Keely are sisters.  Elaina is their cousin.  My mom and Deb (K's mom) became friends when I was 10.  Their family has been putting up with me ever since.  Not sure when the unspoken pact was made that we would be friends for life, but it's held up through a lot of changes.  I'm so grateful.




Major thanks to Mari for taking time out of her Saturday to make this happen.  And thank you, Deb, for bringing props, snacks, and artistic input.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Outlander

I finished Outlander last week and had to take a break from reading for a few days.  It was quite a feat.

This crazy journey begins in 1946, post WWII.  It ends up in 1743, as tensions increase between England, France, and Scotland.

Good thing Claire knows a thing or two about this unstable time period, her husband of 1945 being a scholar of Scottish history.  Her experience as a combat nurse also assists her through more than a few barbaric practices of the 18th century.  When I'd be losing my lunch, Claire is all,"fetch me some (insert herb) with a side of whisky".  I appreciate a heroine who is both feminine and bad-ass.

Claire meets Jaime - a hot, young, Scottish warrior and the story unfolds from there.  Though the writing is fantastic, it took me several looooong chapters to really get into it.  Then the conflict and romance rises to make me embrace all 870 pages of small print.

Starz recently premiered the first episode of their Outlander series.  While I don't have much problem reading sex and gore, watching it in TV-MA form is difficult for me.  The book is pretty graphic, so I had little hope of enjoying the show.  Surprisingly, I was able to watch 'Sassenach' without much issue.  The premier followed the book very well.  Even the casting feels impressively accurate.  Jaime is hot (duh), and Claire is beautiful and spirited (though thinner than I imagined - typical).

It can only get more graphic from here, but I'll hold on as long as possible.  As for the book, it's only good if you don't give up - I have Willow Aster to thank for that tip (wink).  I really did fall in love with these characters.  That said, the thought of immediately taking on book 2 is too much.  Moving on, for now.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Wilderness Recipes

After my Boundary Waters experience, I cannot fathom how Survivor contestants endure 39 days with minimal food and resources.  There's something about being in the fresh air and the energy exerted with every little task that made me want to eat constantly.  Thankfully, Nick's meal plan for us was hearty and delicious.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Skewers
I love sea food, cilantro, and citrus, so this was designated my birthday dinner.  We ate it on Thursday because the shrimp had to be kept cold.  It tasted so fresh and satisfying for our first day at camp.

  •  Large, uncooked shrimp, deveined and shelled
  •  Bamboo skewers, soaked in water approx. 20 min.
  •  Limes
  •  Cumin
  •  Salt
  •  Fresh cilantro
Season shrimp with salt and cumin, then squeeze juice of lime over them.  Put on skewers with lime slices.  Grill until pink.  Boil long grain white rice.  Add lime juice, oil, and cilantro.

Breakfast Hash
Warning: it's SPICY!  Perfect for a cool morning around the fire.  Served with Cowboy Coffee, of course.

  • Bulk sage breakfast sausage
  • Jalapeno bacon cut into chunks
  • Hash browns (any style - we had chunks)
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeno
  • Onion
  • Green pepper
  • Fresh eggs
Fry bacon and add to bowl - save grease in pan.  Fry potatoes in bacon grease until crispy brown.  Add potatoes to bowl and fry sausage.  Add sausage to bowl and fry garlic, onion, jalapeno, and pepper in sausage grease.  Crack 2 eggs per person over onion mixture and cook until done.  Mix everything together.  Allow to cool, then package in plastic bags.  Heat over fire in pan.

Blueberry Pancakes
We hoped blueberries would be prime for picking, but we were just a day or two off the mark.  This was my birthday breakfast, so I got what few were available.  The red ones were just a bit tart, which was perfect.

  • Bisquick *just add water* Buttermilk Pancake Mix
  • Fresh-picked, wild blueberries
  • Pure maple syrup
Combine water and batter.  Add blueberries.
Cook in fry pan over fire until light brown and fluffy.  Drizzle maple syrup.

Pizza
Mmmm...meatlovers.  Nothing tastes better than greasy protein after a couple hours of paddling.

  • Pre-made, original style pizza crust - single size, 1 per camper
  • Squeeze bottle pizza sauce (because glass & cans are not permitted on the campground)
  • Hot dago sausage
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
Fry sausage in skillet until brown.
Apply all pizza toppings.
Cook in reflector oven until golden brown.

Hot Grape Nuts Cereal 

I hadn't had Grape Nuts since I was a kid.  So yummy served hot with fruit!


Per serving:
2 Cups Grape Nuts Cereal
2 Tbsp powdered milk
1 Tbsp sugar
Generous amount of freeze-dried fruit (strawberries are great)

Combine all ingredients in baggy for travel.
Put in mug and pour hot water over to desired consistency.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shop & Party Local


Through August 16, Sisu will donate 10% of all denim sales to Coco's Heart Dog Rescue.  By purchasing a pair of jeans (that you're shopping for anyway), you help support an organization that has fostered and found loving homes for over 1500 animals since 2010.  No event of this magnitude is complete without a party!  Mark your calendar for Saturday, August 16.  Johanna Grace Photography will be there for furbaby photos - get all the details here.

If you're a thrifter like moi, stop in to Arc's Value Village any Thursday in August to receive 25% off storewide.  Being a Village Reward$ member is totally worth it.  If you love to save, but need some help shopping, check out their Personal Shopping Service.  I follow Arc's Value Village Personal Shopper on Facebook, and am continually amazed at their outfits.

One of my favorite bloggers, Sally McGraw of Already Pretty, is partnering with Carly Gatzlaff of A La Mode Wardrobe Consulting for a workshop titled "How Shoes Work Within Your Wardrobe".  It's Sunday, August 24 at the Mall of America's Executive Center. It'll be an hour and a half of fun footwear facts and lively Q&A. Details and tickets here.

I could not be happier that Karma Boutique is moving to Selby & Snelling (dangerously close to Teeny Bee) on August 31!  Let's show our support for this independently owned business at their new location - 1591 Selby Ave, St. Paul.

Fashionopolis is back, baby!  The runway will feature styles from the hottest Twin Cities boutiques and retail destinations. Allison KaplanMpls.St.Paul Magazine Senior Style & Shopping Editor, will host the evening’s festivities.  Get tickets and information here.

A Night in Northeast brings a community of women together for an evening of food, fashion and philanthropy in historic, riverfront Northeast Minneapolis.  Taking place Tuesday, September 23, there will be samplings from Northeast’s restaurants and wares from local boutiques.  Register here.

And don't forget to refer back to this list for even more upcoming events!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Girlfriends Photo Shoot, Part 1

What do you do when a life-long friend turns 30 just days before she moves to South Korea?  You get her all gussied up with her BFFs for a fabulous photo shoot, that's what.  We enlisted the help of our photographer friend Mari to capture our craziness at a remote location near downtown St. Paul.  We were not in our wedding dresses the entire time - oh ho no - outfit changes happened.  You do not want to miss 'Part 2'.  It was rainy and muddy, but we had so much fun.




The wedding dresses were a little challenging, but I love how they capture our individual styles.  Also, they all FIT!   Elaina is in a Grecian, one-shoulder, white dress with a train.  She got married at 19 and just celebrated her 12th anniversary.  Then me - I wouldn't settle for anything but tea-length.  That was 8 years ago.  I remember wedding dress shopping with Katie and finding this ruched-lace, column dress - there was no doubt it was the one.  She got married 7/7/07 - 7 years ago!  Then Keely, our baby.  She got married last year in this gorgeous ball gown.  I still can't believe it.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Girl Gone Wild


Nick, Elaina, Me, Steve.  Notice our official Survivor Buffs!

We got back yesterday from a 4 night stay in the Boundary Waters.  It was awesome.  I'm not much of a camper, but when a wilderness expert invites you to go, you go.  Steve and Nick are both into videography, so that was the focus (pun alert) of the trip.  Elaina and I paddled the boys around as they filmed our majestic surroundings.  

When he wasn't paddling, it was like this.

The weather was amazing.  The absence of wind and rain made for easy paddling and relaxing days at camp.  We soaked up a lot of sun.  I managed to avoid the cold, dark, glassy water all but once, knowing I would not last without at least one attempt at bathing.  I just don't like not being able to see what - or who - I'm swimming with.

Misty morning.

The most perfect day.

Vivid sunset.

I mentally prepared for bugs.  Mosquitoes tend to feast on me, stupid little devils.  We were relieved to have few insect-related issues - nothing a little deet (100 proof), optional head nets, and shelter during sundown couldn't handle.

The only struggle I had was with portaging.  Never have I felt more physically challenged, nearly incapable.  Having 1/2 my body weight strapped to my back over rough terrain was a shock to my system, which turned into controlled rebellion.  Elaina, on the other hand, carried a canoe on her shoulders through our hardest and longest portage - she's tiny, but crazy-strong.  I am a noodle.

The smiley end of the portage.

Nick planned and prepared all of our meals.  Everything we ate was delicious and filling.  I'll post a few pictures and recipes soon.  We were never denied morning coffee, hallelu.  Our drinking water came from the lake, then was run through a simple filtering system.  It actually tasted pretty good and not like dirt or iron, though I did opt to add lemon Gatorade powder for flavor.

The bathroom situation.  Here's how it goes:  Apply bug spray and announce to your camp mates where you're going.  Don't forget to bring the TP.  Follow the little trail to a remote pot in the middle of the forest - there it is.  Try not to look, simply swat the flies away.   Sit down.  Greet the chipmunk who is staring you down from a nearby tree.   Try to relax, while being as fast and efficient as possible.

Even being way out of my comfort zone, I had a wonderful time.  To be in enveloped in nature, completely unplugged, is something special.  There is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with this type of adventure (or "vacation" as some call it).  I would do it again.  Maybe not this year, but sometime.

Paddle.  Rest.  Repeat.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Boy Pug vs Girl Pug

This is how our little family pack operates:  

I am the giver of breakfast.  I am a pillow.  I am the booger wiper and ear wax extractor.  I am the merciless squisher of squishy things.   I am the mama.

Steve is the alpha.

Sometimes, Daisy thinks she is the alpha and tries to assert her self-appointed authority over everyone.  Her cuteness goes a long way, but Steve ultimately wins.  And when he does, she plays it off like, whatever, I didn't really give a f*** anyway, just making sure you were paying attention.  She is happy to cuddle and be held like a baby, but only on her terms.  At home, Daisy is sassy, independent, and unapologetic.  At the park, she barks at other dogs then quickly retreats when she finally gets their attention.  

Oliver submits to everyone except me.  He's sweet and tender-hearted, but also very hyper.  I don't like disciplining him, no matter how annoying his compulsive licking is.  I can't bare to break his sweet spirit.  Poor baby is both bullied and adored by his little sister.  Ollie is substantially taller, leaner, and faster than Daisy, but he'll let her take him down in a play fight (momentarily, at least).  All he wants in life is love, attention, approval, and reward in the form of anything edible.

Who shall be squished first?


Daisy's slower, so easier to catch.








Ollie is too busy for me, so I force my love upon him.



Oliver
Daisy
Apricot
Black
Tall and fit
Short and stout
Dependent
Independent
Digs in blankets
Digs in dirt
Gives hard kisses
Gives soft kisses
Hears everything
Smells everything
Cries like a TonTon
Snorts like a pig
Runs like the wind
Easily winded
Responds to TV
Responds to Ollie responding to TV
Grandma’s Favorite
Everyone else’s favorite 

***Disclaimer: Steve and I love our Pugs equally, depending on the day.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shop Local + Online = Shoptiques

Don't we wish there was a way to shop all of our favorite local boutiques online?  So many small businesses can't afford the time or money it takes to operate an online shop as well as a storefront.  They rely entirely on foot traffic.  Sometimes, the feet can't get there.  Shoptiques is the solution for both the shopper and the business.  The site collaborates with local boutiques around the world to make their merchandise available to online shoppers.  Shop by the neighborhood of your choice (start with Minnesota if you like) or explore the whole site knowing that your purchase will support small businesses.  Of course, Sisu is my #1 shop suggestion.  Here are a few of my favorite sale items:







Chaser Silk Jumpsuit,  Sanctuary Blogger Skirt (that is really the name)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Going Somewhere

Cardi: Target hand-me-down,  Shirt & Shorts: H&M,  Boots: Coconuts via DSW

Ho hum.  What exactly am I doing with this blog?  This is the question I've asked myself for a few years now.  I love that it's here.  I think about it everyday - post or no post.  I have no intention of shutting it down.  It's become a strange extension of me - like a neglected child, waiting for my attention.  When I first stopped posting consistently, I felt guilty.  This mental image of style blogger Jenga, my piece wiggling it's way out of the stack.  The dream of becoming a foundational piece in the game was never going to happen.

I am not a fashion blogger.  There, I said it.  I am a blogger who has an interest in fashion, among many other interests.  You know all those blogging how-to's that say there should be a clear focus?  I'm going to ignore all that.  Because the fact is, my life is not very focused.  I like it that way.  And this is about me, right?  Yes.  Shopping and fashion will always be my go-to, but I'm not going to allow myself to feel weird if I want to share something different.  Such as...

The Pugs that run my life and take over my Instagram feed.  Heaven help me that I should want to talk about them more, but I totally do.  I want to obsess over Ollie's pawsiness and Daisy's snorts.  I want to post dog park reviews in their own words.  Ollie will say things like, "Everything is Awesome!".  Daisy will be all, "I kept up with Ollie the whole time, even though I couldn't breath!".

My paid work revolves around two local boutiques.  Teeny Bee recently raised funds to open a play space downstairs - the Bloom Room.  Think baby play dates, music class, yoga, and art.  It's the happiest little place in the Twin Cities.  Then there's Sisu - the thing that keeps me fashionably afloat.  We have some events and endeavors coming up that I'm so excited about - hello, fall fashion!  The success of these small businesses is important to me, so I will plug them whenever I can.

I hope to travel more in the coming months/year, but I also love exploring home.  Minnesota is full of things to do and see.  I want to do and see all of it.  Steve and I will be adventuring in the Boundary Waters next week!   We're hard core like that.

I'm grateful to be surrounded by some seriously talented friends.  People who pursue their passions - music, writing, photography, film making, designing, and all other forms of creativity.  It all has a place here, in my little cyber space called Spoils of Wear, even if it isn't wearable, but just because I say so.