The Reasons All Have Run Away, But The Feeling Never Did …

I’m going to take a break from recapping the wedding planning process today to share what many brides might consider a “rite of passage”: The Post Wedding Chop.

While planning a wedding, one thing you obviously need to figure out is how you’d like to wear your hair.  (I wrote about my wedding day hair inspiration here: Watch Out When You’re Faced By What You Don’t Know and about my hair/makeup trial here: Sandpaper Tears Corrode The Film.)

As you can see, I was pretty set on an updo.  The thing about updos, though, is that your hair has to be long enough to actually go up and stay up.  Sure, I could have gotten extensions … But that’s not really my thing.

So I grew my hair out.  It wasn’t crazy long or anything (I’ve definitely had longer hair in the past!), but I kept the layers to a minimum and requested that my regular hair stylist only trim up the split ends and shape up the long layers each time I visited.  I also kept my hair color the same.  I’ve been dying my hair black since the second semester of my senior year of college (so it’s been black for 8 years now!), and I didn’t think my wedding (or any time immediately before) was the time to try something new.

But … I’ve been getting bored with my hair.  Every time I go to the salon, I think, “Okay, this will be the time I try something new.”  And then I chicken out at the last second.  It never fails.

Here is one of the most recent pictures I’ve taken.  Yes, it’s a selfie.  I sent it to Eric while he was at work before I went out to dinner with my friend, Elaine.  I rarely wear makeup, so it was a rare moment of looking “nice.”

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It’s not the greatest picture, but you can see my “usual” hair pretty well.  Personal photo.

I think part of the problem was the fact that I hadn’t really spent much time looking for inspiration photos.  Without visuals, it’s kind of hard to describe exactly what you like and don’t like to your stylist.  If I wanted to make sure I got the look I wanted, I needed to do my research.

As I often do when I need beauty inspiration, I combed through the zillions of pictures on Pinterest.  I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but I literally spent about an hour and a half searching for the type of haircut and color I was picturing.  (And trust me, when you have something specific in mind, it’s nearly impossible to find exactly what you’re looking for!)

In the simplest terms, I was looking for the following:

  • Choppy layers
  • Face framing layers to elongate/slim my round face
  • Shoulder length or a little longer
  • A cut that would look great with side-swept bangs
  • Dark hair with highlights
  • Highlights in red or auburn (possibly caramel, though I was more interested in a shade of red)
  • Different ways to highlight hair

I got a lot of ideas, and started a new inspiration board.  I had a hair appointment today, so I knew if I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and try something new, I needed to get all of my inspiration pictures in one easy to access location.  Otherwise, I’d never bring it up to my hair stylist and I’d come home with pretty (but boring) hair.

So … A little over 4 months after the wedding, I took the plunge.  I figured I may as well try something new and fun now.  There’s really no reason not to.  And … It’s hair.  It grows back.  The color can be changed.  Nothing is permanent.  (Or so I had to convince myself all the way to the salon.)

The result?

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Unfortunately, the natural light was long gone by the time I made it home, and when I tried to take a picture that would show the highlights in the light, my face was instantly washed out.  I wanted to take a picture to share it anyway, though, because this is (kind of sadly) a big moment for me.  This is quite literally the first time I’ve made any sort of major change to my hair since I had layers and bangs cut in back in 2007!  Personal photo.

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Here’s a picture of me in different lighting so you can see just how subtle the highlights actually are.  I know I look weird and serious (and I’m not wearing makeup, so please don’t judge!), but I was concentrating on finding the right angle so it looked completely black.  Personal photo.

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And finally, a picture of the actual highlights.  As I said, I wish I could have gotten a good natural light picture … But this will have to do for now.  (I may update this at another time with a picture of it in natural light so you can actually see what it looks like in real life.)  This is just one side after I lifted up the top layers of my hair.

I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.  The change is subtle, but it’s definitely different.  I had 4 inches taken off, new (choppier!) layers cut in, and, of course, the addition of red peekaboo highlights around the front.  I’m going to see how I like this over time, but I may continue tweaking with each appointment until my look is changed a little more drastically.

In Upper Atmosphere My Head Comes Loose, And In The Free Fall I Can Feel The Blues

Eric and I really love Indian food.  We have a couple of Indian restaurants we prefer when we’re planning to go out for a nicer, more expensive meal, as well as a couple that are easier on the wallet and can just as easily satisfy our cravings.

Once in a great while, though, we attempt to make Indian food at home.  I won’t pretend that it’s authentic, because it’s not.  Despite this fact, though, our homemade Indian food at least always tastes good … So that’s something.  And it’s nice to know that we can make something with similar flavors at home.

This week I’ll be sharing the recipe I mentioned in my last Tell All Thursday post.  It turned out really well, and was surprisingly simple.  (It probably helped that we had a specific spice mixture available for this one, though.  We were given a set of Indian spice mixes as one of our wedding gifts, and this was one of them.)

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I sometimes wish I could somehow post smells and not just pictures of the food we make.  This smelled amazing, and tasted great … But I don’t think the picture accurately portrays how good it actually was.  Personal photo.

Rogan Josh

Recipe taken from www.penzeys.com.

Adapted very slightly by me!

Ingredient List:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 lb lamb stew meat
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 tbsp Penzeys Rogan Josh seasoning* (I used 3 tbsp and it made the dish pretty spicy, so I’d suggest using less if you’re sensitive to spicy foods.)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Fage Total Greek yogurt.)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 4 cups steamed basmati rice

Instructions:

1.) Melt butter in a large skillet.

2.) Add the lamb to the butter, cooking until browned.

3.) After browning, remove the lamb to a plate.  (Eric sliced the meat up even more at this point for more chunks throughout the dish, but this is optional.)

4.) Add the chopped onion to the skillet, browning over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.  (I kept the juices from the meat/butter to cook this in, and I highly recommend doing this.)

5.) Turn the heat down to low and add the Penzeys Rogan Josh seasoning and sea salt, stirring for 1 minute.

6.) Add the lamb back to the skillet.

7.) Slowly add the water and plain yogurt, stirring to blend well.

8.) Simmer on low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour to allow the flavors to mix.

9.) In the last 15 minutes of cook time, add the frozen peas and turn the heat up to medium low.

10.) Serve warm over steamed basmati rice.

11.) Enjoy!  Since I was sick when we made this, we didn’t go all out for side dishes.  The rice, meat, and vegetables in this dish were filling enough, though.  In the future, I’ll probably make a side of naan (not homemade, though, because I’m still a little intimidated by homemade breads) and/or lentils (which is typically a staple for us when having curries or other similar types of meals).

*Note: If you don’t have a Penzeys Spices nearby (or don’t want to order a bunch of seasonings online), the website states that the Rogan Josh seasoning is hand-mixed from paprika, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, Korintje cassia cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and saffron.

I’m Lying Down, Blowing Smoke From My Cigarette … Little Whisper Smoke Signs That You’ll Never Get

I haven’t written for a few days, mostly because I spent the weekend catching up on laundry, reading, and going out to dinner with a friend.  It was relaxing, but not very productive in terms of blogging.

Anyway, for today’s Music Monday post, I wanted to share one of my favorite albums.  I mentioned it a while ago when I listed the 20 albums I couldn’t live without, but I never discussed it in any detail.

The album?  Antics by Interpol.

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Personal photo.

I started listening to Interpol my senior year of college after a friend of mine let me borrow this album.  I was instantly hooked.  The songs are a perfect blend of haunting, dark, and poppy … A combination that sounds as though it wouldn’t work, but, in this case, works surprisingly well.

Antics is not only a great album … It’s an album that brings me back to a certain time in my life, reminding me of both the good and the bad moments I experienced between the ages of 21 and 22.  Although I still listen to this album from beginning to end on a regular basis, those were the years that this album acted as part of the soundtrack to my life.

As with my previous posts that focused on a specific album, I’ll be listing out my personal favorite tracks from Antics.  I’ll also be sharing my favorite lines from each of these songs.

* Public Pervert

Personal Favorite Line(s): Perhaps heart strings resuscitate the fading sounds of your life

* C’mere

Personal Favorite Line(s): It’s way too late to be this locked inside ourselves/The trouble is that you’re in love with someone else/It should be me

* Song Seven (This is found on the extended/special edition version.)

Personal Favorite Line(s): You can’t sit up/Yeah, you fell too fast/You come at the right time/Yeah, you come too fast

* A Time To Be So Small

Personal Favorite Line(s): He might succumb to what you haven’t seen/He has a keen eye for what you used to be

* Narc

Personal Favorite Line(s): Oh, all your history’s like fire from a busted gun

I know this is a pretty well-known album, but if you’ve never listened to Interpol, this is a great place to start.

I Strain My Eyes And Try To Tell The Difference Between Shooting Stars And Satellites

I wish I had something really awesome to write about for today’s 30 day blogging challenge topic … But I don’t.  Not really.  I’m going to try to make it work anyway.

This week’s topic: The Best Thing That Happened To Me This Week

Like I said, I wish I had a great story to share.  It would be awesome to be able to say, “My life is really exciting, so great things happen all the time!”  But … That’s not real life.  At least not mine.

This week has actually been particularly shitty because I’ve been sick.  I had a cough for about a week that was mostly just annoying.  Then, suddenly, I was sick.  Last Friday I started feeling worse, and the weekend basically consisted of me laying around on the couch, reading and watching TV (and coughing and blowing my nose).  I also had a fever on and off for four days.  Ugh.  I’m still sick, though I’m slowly starting to come out of my funk.  Very slowly.

Anyway, since I’ve been sick, I really haven’t done much.  I go to work, I come home, I read, I watch TV with Eric, I update my blog … And that’s about it.  I just haven’t had the energy to do anything else.  And since I haven’t done much, well … There’s nothing too exciting to share.

I realize this has turned into a rant about being sick.  I also realize no one really wants to read something like that.  So … Sorry.

Instead of making this entire post about how shitty it is to be sick, though, I’m going to end by sharing a few positive things (however small some might be).

I finished my fourth book of the year.  I still have a ton of catching up to do if I want to hit my goal of 50 this year, but it’s still progress!

Eric and I tried a new recipe on Saturday night.  Even though I felt like crap that day, I had fun cooking with my husband.  (Oh, and the recipe also turned out well.  I’ll be sharing it soon!)

And finally, the biggest piece of news.  I mentioned it in last Saturday’s post, but I’ll mention it again because it’s definitely the best thing that has happened in the recent past.  I was offered a new position within my current company last week!  I won’t start until later this month, but it’s a move I’m really looking forward to.  My new position comes with added responsibilities and a slight pay bump, which is always nice.  While I love my current coworkers and boss, I really felt like it was time for me to make a move in order to further my career.  I can’t wait to get started!

I Can’t Remember All The Times I Tried To Tell Myself To Hold On To These Moments As They Pass

I was trying to think about what might make sense as a follow-up to my four part wedding day look series, and I realized I hadn’t discussed what anyone else was wearing that day.  So today’s post is all about the rest of the wedding party and their attire.

Eric chose to wear the same tux that his groomsmen and my Man of Honor wore.  I know that some grooms opt for something a little different to stand out, but Kevin (my Man of Honor) was actually the only one to wear something a little different.  He wore a boutonniere, while the other guys simply wore a pocket square.  (Hey, he had to get some flowers somehow!)

When we initially chose our color scheme, Eric and I decided that the tuxes should probably be grey.  There were surprisingly not a ton of options for grey tuxedos, but Eric settled on the Legend Grey Tuxedo by Calvin Klein.  And I loved it!

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Image courtesy of www.my-tuxedo.com.

As for the girls, I initially just wanted them to pick out something they liked.  After talking with them, though, it seemed like they preferred that I at least give them some ideas.  So I searched.  And searched.  And searched.  I stressed more about the bridesmaid dresses than I did about my own because I couldn’t find anything I liked that I thought they’d like/be comfortable in.

Eventually I found a few dresses and sent them the pictures.  Surprisingly, they both liked the same one.  I then asked if they preferred grey or a blue/green color and sent them pictures of the swatches I’d gotten in the mail.  (Side note: Wedding planning can be kind of tough when all of your bridesmaids live far away.)  And they both liked the same color as well.  So really, my bridesmaids made the dress decision really easy.

Here’s what they ended up choosing:

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This is the Wtoo 788 in Mediterranean.  Image courtesy of www.watters.com.

And finally, a picture of the whole group together.  This is one of my favorite pictures from the day!

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I’m not really sure why (yet again!) the wedding picture is so small.  I tried resizing, but nothing seemed to work.  Hopefully you can at least get the general idea.  Personal photo taken by Kelsey at Memrical. 

I Wanted Freedom, Bound And Restricted … I Tried To Give You Up, But I’m Addicted

The meal I’ll be sharing with you today is in no way healthy.  But it’s a comforting, delicious, easy casserole that’s perfect for a busy weeknight.

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Casseroles never photograph well, but at least it tasted great!  Personal photo.

I made this casserole for the first time over 3 years ago.  I was living in Omaha, but Eric and I were still in separate apartments.  At the time, I wanted to make something quick that would provide some leftovers, so I searched for a classic staple (a casserole, of course).

I’ve mentioned before that Cassie Craves is one of my favorite food blogs.  Her recipes tend to be relatively simple and great for busy nights.  She also makes a lot of comfort food (including pasta, which is my ultimate comfort food!).  Casseroles definitely fall under the “comfort food” category as well, and there are a bunch of really great ones to choose from on her site (like today’s recipe, for example!).  I haven’t tried all of them, but there are definitely several I’m planning to make in the near future.

Buffalo Chicken Potato Casserole

Recipe taken from cassiecraves.blogspot.com.

Adapted very slightly by me!

Ingredient List:

  • 12 frozen breaded chicken breast tenders (You could use more or less, but I found that 12 tenders fit perfectly in the 9×13 inch pan I used to bake the casserole.)
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot, and I definitely recommend it!)
  • 6 cups frozen shredded hash brown Potatoes O’Brien (The last time I made this, I made it with the diced Potatoes O’Brien.  Both options are good, this just happened to be what Eric picked up at the store.)
  • 1 cup ranch or blue cheese dressing (I used Hidden Valley light ranch.  That’s the only brand of light ranch dressing Eric and I will eat!)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 10 oz. can cream of celery soup
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine (I used low fat margarine.)
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 3 to 4 green onions, chopped

Instructions:

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.

3.) In a large bowl, mix together Potatoes O’Brien, dressing, half of the cheddar cheese, and cream of celery soup.  After this is mixed thoroughly, pour evenly into the pan.

4.) Pour the measured hot sauce into a small bowl.  Dip each chicken tender on both sides in the hot sauce, then place on top of the potato mixture in the pan.  Pour any remaining hot sauce over the casserole.

5.) In a second small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter or margarine in the microwave.

6.) Add the Panko breadcrumbs to the melted butter, and sprinkle across the top of the casserole.

7.) Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top of the casserole.

8.) Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

9.) Uncover, and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.  (I baked mine for an additional 23 minutes.)

10.) Sprinkle the green onions across the top of the casserole after removing it from the oven.

11.) Enjoy!  I paired this with a simple side salad, and it made a very filling, comforting meal.  Eric loved this casserole as well, and even with all the hot sauce, it wasn’t overly spicy.  (Feel free to adjust the amount of hot sauce if you want a more mild flavor, though.)

Certain Things Just Happen When You Make No Plans …

As many of you know, last night was Oscar night.

I’ve always enjoyed award shows.  I’m not sure why, really.  I mean, sometimes it’s fun because someone I specifically like has been nominated … But this year I wasn’t that invested.  I haven’t seen any of the films that were nominated for Best Picture (which might be a first for me), though, to be fair, I would like to see at least half of them.  I’m sure I’ll watch them once they make it to Netflix.

Anyway, in the spirit of award shows, I’ve decided to make this week’s Music Monday post a little more random than usual.  It’s basically going to be my personal “award” list.  This is just for fun of course, and it will include things I like and dislike.  Because … Why not?

Favorite Male Vocalist:  Dallas Green (Alexisonfire/City and Colour)

Favorite Female Vocalist:  Fiona Apple

Favorite Male Songwriter/Lyricist:  Elliott Smith

Favorite Female Songwriter/Lyricist:  Tori Amos

Favorite Cover Song:  “No Quarter” originally by Led Zeppelin, as covered by Tool on Salival

Favorite Love Song:  “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds

Favorite TV Theme (Instrumental):  “Blood Theme” by Daniel Licht from Dexter

Favorite Movie Theme (Instrumental):  “Lux Aeterna” by The London Ensemble from Requiem for a Dream

Favorite TV Theme (Non-Instrumental):  “Secret” by The Pierces from Pretty Little Liars

Favorite Movie Theme (Non-Instrumental):  “Miss Misery” by Elliott Smith from Good Will Hunting

Track That Should Have Been On An Album:  “Seasick” by Silversun Pickups from the Record Store Day single Seasick

Best Compilation Album Track:  “Sleepless” by The Decemberists from the compilation album Dark Was the Night

Song I Like By An Artist I Don’t:  “Closer” by Kings of Leon

Song I Can’t Stand By An Artist I Like:  “Hot Knife” by Fiona Apple

Album I Don’t Really Like By An Artist I Like:  Port of Morrow by The Shins (There are a couple of good songs, but otherwise it’s very “meh” for me.)

Most Overrated Band:  Coldplay

Most Underrated Band:  Emery

Band That Should Break Up:  Nickelback (or really any similar shitty radio rock band) … How can there possibly be a greatest hits album from this band?!?!

Band That Should Get Back Together:  Alexisonfire

Best Album Artwork:  In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

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This is such an iconic image.  

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When you unfold the CD booklet, this is the image you’ll get.  I love the airplane/gramophone image so much that I’m planning to eventually have it tattooed on my shoulder blade along with the lyrics “The music and medicine you needed for comforting.” 

It was actually pretty difficult to come up with some of these because there are so many great bands/artists, songs, etc. out there.  If anyone is interested in sharing their “winners” in the comments (or on their own blog), please feel free to do so.  I’d love to see how other people fill this out!