Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Traditions

The only New Year's tradition I've managed to adhere to is drinking excessively and nursing a hangover the following morning.  Since this is a pretty sad tradition, I decided to research some new traditions* from around the globe to incorporate into our festivities this year.

Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight

As midnight strikes, it is tradition in Spain for people to eat twelve grapes for luck throughout the twelve months.  Some articles suggest that each grape represents a wish for the new year, but that seems like a lot of wishes.  Either way, I spent way too much money on grapes, so we are going to make this happen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Review of 2012

I am more than excited to see 2012 end.  This hasn't been my favorite year--actually, parts of it rather sucked.  I'm not usually one to buy into the whole 'new year, new beginnings' philosophy, but I am embracing it fully this new year.  Instead of wallowing in my own self pity over the last year, I am going to take a minute to focus on the wonderful things I experienced in twenty twelve.


We rang in the new year with friends, old and new.  I drank a lot of wine that night and woke up with a terrible hangover to start the year.  Here's to hoping I learned my lesson within the last year and can start 2013 hangover free.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

To everyone celebrating the holiday, Merry Christmas!  I hope your day is filled with all the things that make this time of year special.

Much love, Jess

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Our Holiday Display

I've been noticing a lot of people sharing their beautiful, fun, and festive holiday displays around the blogosphere as of late, so I thought I would share ours.  Except our display is kind of...lacking.

For starters, our tree.  My aunt was getting rid of a couple of trees last year right before we moved out here, so we graciously accepted her four foot pre-lit option.  Sadly, when we put it up last year, the lights didn't work.  I don't know if you've ever tried to remove the lights off of a pre-lit tree, but it's a pain.  We didn't even put lights on it last year, we were so fed up.  At least this year we stepped it up with some LED lights.

Our blurry tree.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post on Everyday Adventures

I'm guest posting today over at Everyday Adventures, the home of the beautiful Allie (also Mrs. Hyena of Weddingbee fame).

She is doing an entire series on Christmas memories, and today is my silly little story.  Check it out!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

DIY Colored Skinnies

A few weeks ago, I talked about how I was loving these green jeans that have been all over pinterest lately.

Well, I couldn't get them out of my mind.  I needed green skinny jeans.  Yes, I am aware of how ridiculous that statement sounds, but sometimes things stick in my brain and just won't leave until I have them.  Like when I really want a doughnut (right. now.).

I couldn't find a pair I liked in my very meager budget, so I decided to to find a way to make my own.  I love a good DIY project and after looking at a few tutorials online, I was confident I could finally get some green skinny jeans I convinced myself I must have.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy 12/12/12!

As I'm sure everyone is already aware, today is 12/12/12.  This marks the last day in this millennia that the date will feature repeating numbers (there will be one more sequential date next year on 11-12-13).  

Many people are commemorating this once-in-a-lifetime date by getting married (including a co-worker of Brian's), buying lottery tickets, or, my personal favorite, getting a free dozen doughnuts (if only I knew of a Krispy Kreme around here).

Brian and I especially love these fun dates because our wedding anniversary is a fun sequential date.  We would probably celebrate in some small way if I had thought about it before today (*cough*doughnuts*cough*), but we'll just have to wait until next year.

Anyone doing anything to commemorate 12/12/12 today?  Please tell me someone got themselves (or, your office, whatever) two dozen doughnuts!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Favorites, Greece Addition

I've decided to dedicate this Friday Favorites post to my favorite things we used while traveling in Greece to wrap up my recaps of our trip.

Fodor's Greece

We actually bought this book several years ago when the now-defunct Borders was going bankrupt and selling it's inventory at marginally discounted prices.  We used it to plan our trip and referred to it several times while we were in Greece as well.

Language Survival Guide

Luckily, most everyone we encountered in Greece spoke some English, but we didn't want to assume that this would be the case.  We tried to address people in Greek not only because it was fun, but because we want to show respect for the culture and language of a country when we visit by using the native language.  I bought this book from Goodwill for fifty cents early on in our planning process and it proved very helpful as a quick language and cultural guidebook.  Our Fodor's book provided a great deal on Greek culture as well, but this book was much easier (ie: thinner) to carry with us.

Travel journal

I blurred out the words to avoid any potentially embarrassing things being on here

In researching our trip, I read that Mrs. Star kept a travel journal during her honeymoon in Greece and thought that it sounded like a great idea.  Every day, I wrote notes about where we went, what we ate, and everything we did while in Greece.  Some days it was tedious, but I can't tell you how happy I am that I kept this journal.  There are so many small details that would have been forgotten already (even with all the pictures we took) if I hadn't made this effort.  I plan to keep this journal and add to it as we take more trips in the future.


Brian and I both bought Toms for our trip.  We wanted lightweight shoes that were comfortable given all the exploring we were planning on doing and Toms seemed to fit that need.  We really tested the limits of our Toms on the hikes we went on (see: the tearing at the seams of my right shoe), but they were perfect for our trip and I wear them all the time now.


Brian insisted that I pack light for this trip.  Actually, his exact phrase was, "I am not carrying any of your shit."  Such a gentleman, I know.  Well, he had a valid reason for making this statement.  When they traveled to Italy a few years back, Brian's mom brought a huge, heavy suitcase that she had to cart through the uneven streets of Europe, which left an impression on him.  To prove I didn't need anyone else to carry my things, I declared I would pack everything in a backpack.  And I did.  Take that, doubtful husband.

I packed 5 dresses, 3 shirts, 2 tank tops, 3 pairs of shorts, one pair of sandals, one pair of jeans, 3 sweaters, undergarments, my travel journal, a magazine, makeup and other toiletries, and a beach bag in this backpack.  We didn't have to check any bags, saving us time and money.  And, Brian can never complain about my packing again.  Win-win-win.

Camera friendly purse

After seeing how many pictures we took while in Greece, it should come as no surprise that I carried my camera everywhere.  As a general rule, I don't like to wear my camera around my neck.  Not only does it scream tourist, but it hurts my neck.  I've been wanting to get a stylish bag to carry my camera around, like one of these, but I'm cheap and couldn't justify the cost of one of those lovely bags.  My solution: make my own.

I found a bag on clearance at American Eagle and decided to add an insert to protect my camera and additional lens I planned to take with me.  I really liked this tutorial from How Joyful, but I am lazy in addition to being cheap, and I couldn't find any foam.  I used quilt batting and fabric I had lying around to create a nice little holder for my camera.  It's definitely not the prettiest or most protective insert, but it served it's purpose and I use it all the time now.

What are your must haves for long trips?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Greece: Athens

We spent our last day in Greece in Athens.  We wanted to get up early to get to the Acropolis bright and early before the crowds, but we got into Athens so late the night before, we didn't get out of bed until far later than we intended.

Luckily, our hotel was within walking distance to the ancient sites, so it didn't take long to get to our destination.

Arch of Hadrian-on the outskirts of the Acropolis

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Favorites

So, I skipped this last week since we were traveling for the holidays, but I'm back this week with a few things that are striking my fancy this week.


I know I talk about tv shows a lot on this blog, but it is for a good reason.  I watch a lot of tv.  I love it.  Anyway, Pysch is one of those shows that I heard about but never watched until I saw it pop up on our Netflix about ten times and then I watched all five seasons in about three days.  Last week, Brian got an email that the sixth season of Psych was available on Netflix and I spent my week sick on the couch catching up on what I had missed.  It ended on such a cliffhanger, I just couldn't believe it!  I can't wait to see what happens next.

Bee Ring

Oh, Anthropologie, you and your whimsical designs suck me in every time.  Isn't this bee ring just perfection?!  Ok, I'm probably biased, but I still think it would be amazing to sport some bee love on my finger everyday (yes, I'd probably wear it everyday).  Now if only it weren't $100 . . .

Holiday Sock Season

Via-these aren't mine, but they may as well be

The day after Thanksgiving officially started holiday sock season for me (and hopefully you too, holiday socks are the best).  I have an entire collection of holiday socks that I try wear only between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I'm pretty sure I actually have more socks than there are days in the holiday season, so I get to wear a different pair everyday.  It's an extra dose of happy when I get ready for the day.

What are you loving this week?  Who else loves fun holiday socks?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An American Downton Abbey?

If you ever click through and see the header on my blog, you know that I love Downton Abbey.  I'm pretty sure Mary Crawley and I could be bff in real life.  You know, if she were real.  We would spend our days planning her wedding to Matthew, plotting against Edith, and learning how to be a badass lady from granny.


If this were a real book, I would totally buy it.  And then proudly display it in my office for all to see.

Anyway, as I was watching the Today show this morning, they mentioned that NBC is working on an American version of Downton Abbey, which will be called "The Gilded Age".  NBC is working with Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes to create this period drama set to take place in New York (you can read more about it here).

I'm not sure how I feel about this quite yet.  On the one hand, I love Downton Abbey.  On the other hand, major networks tend to take ideas from successful shows, try to make them fresh with a new storyline, and often fail to do them justice.  Although I have yet to watch it, I have heard that CBS's "Elementary", which took on BBC's {amazing} "Sherlock" is a prime example of this.

Even with my reservations, I can't help imagining what the show will be like and who will play the main characters.  I'm imagining it to be like Gossip Girl, but with classier dialogue and clothes.

What do you think of an American Downton Abbey?  Who would play the Americanized Dowager Countess of Grantham (aka Maggie Smith) if it were up to you?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Styling

We got back from Thanksgiving travel and I promptly got sick.  I have thus spent a lot of time resting on the couch while pursuing things I can't afford on the internet.  

With my husband's company holiday party coming up in a few short weeks, I've turned my attention to something new and pretty to wear for the occasion.  These are my favorite finds so far.

I actually tried on this dress at an Anthropologie a couple weeks back, and I was just disappointed.  The top fit weird and the ruffles did not look nearly as expensive as they should given the price tag.


I've never ordered from this company, which always worries me that the sizing or fabric will be completely off, but I love the lace and shape of this dress.

The reviews of this dress say the waist is baggy and unflattering, otherwise I may have already purchased this dress by now.  The green is fantastic and I just love the little sleeves.

I love the delicate scallops on this dress, although the reviews say it is not lace as it looks.  I also think the top seems ill fitting on the model, so I worry what it would look like with a chest.


I seriously love JCrew and it is always the first place I go when looking for new clothing.  I love the color, but the seam in the middle of the chest just looks off to me.  Maybe you can't tell in person, but it would keep me from ordering it without seeing it first.


If you can't tell, I have a slight obsession with green.  The drapes on this dress are lovely and I think would be totally flattering.  An added bonus, this dress could definitely be worn at work (when I get my dream job in the near future).


Yes, it's green.  I have a problem.  But isn't the color just gorgeous?  Again, I've never ordered from this company, so I have no idea about the sizing and quality.  The sole review on this dress says the fabric is cheap, which is probably to be expected for the price, but I don't want to look cheap, so this is probably out.

I've been a fan of The Limited for a long time, I usually find their quality to be great for the price.  The red lace and this dress actually looks very similar to a top I bought  and love from here a while back.  I only worry that the way the lace cuts off at the bottom may make the dress look like it is too short.

Do you buy something new for holiday parties?  Which one is your favorite out of my options?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving all!  I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday with family and friends!

It seems as if everyone I know has been participating in 30 days of thanks.  While this is a great way for people to think about all the things they are thankful for for an entire month rather than just the one nationally accepted holiday, I've chosen to keep my list short and sweet.

My Husband

This is pretty self explanatory.  He's my rock, my support, and my favorite person in the world.  I'm very lucky to have him in my life and I am grateful everyday to call him my husband.

My education

I wish I could say that I am thankful for having a job, but I can't . . . yet.  But, I'm thankful that I have an education, which will lead to opportunities I would not otherwise have in the future.  For the record, I am not thankful for student loan payments (I am thankful for the student loans themselves, just not all the payments).

Spending the holidays with family

Typical day at the FIL's

The fact that we live far from our families and our families live far from each other makes our visits less frequent than I would like, but I am so grateful to be spending quality time with each of our families this year.

My friends

Bee buddies in June

Whether I've known them for years or we've only met online, I'm grateful to have people in my life that get me and are a constant place of support and love.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greece: Kamares Bonus Day

I should admit something about this trip.  We only made very loose plans for our visit.  And by 'very loose' I mean we only booked our flights and our first hotel in Santorini.  We researched hotels and ferries before the trip, but we waited to book anything else until we were actually on the islands.  Part of this was because the online ferry schedules were a pain and the other part was because we wanted to be flexible with our plans.

We originally planned to go to the island of Mykonos for a couple of days before getting back to Athens for our flight.  Island exploring and hopping ended up being more exhausting than we anticipated, so we cut Mykonos out of the itinerary once we were on Sifnos and planned to head straight to Athens.  We didn't realize, however, that the ferry to Athens was at 9.30 at night.  We had a whole day on Sifnos and no plans.

Not knowing what else to do, we decided to venture into unchartered territory, the top of the island.  The French couple staying at our hotel told us they spent sunset at Agia Simeon, which was beautiful.  Figuring we had the whole day, we decided to make Agia Simeon our destination.

Agia Simeon, way up on the mountain

The French couple said they took a car to the top, so, of course, we thought we could just walk the eight kilometers.  We had walked so much this trip, what was another five miles, right? Wrong.  So very, very wrong.

Proof Agia Simeon was 8 km

Monday, November 19, 2012

Road Trip Thanksgiving

Brian and I were total slackers in researching and booking flights for Thanksgiving, so by the time we actually got our shit together, tickets were astronomical.  Not going wasn't an option for us, since Brian's family is having a huge family reunion and we rarely have the chance to see so many family members at one time.  So, long story short, we are road tripping our way to Tennessee in just a couple of days.

Our route, from google maps

Come Wednesday, we will be spending roughly thirteen hours in the car on our way to Tennessee.  That's a lot of time in the car.  I usually read on long trips, but it makes me feel guilty to ignore my husband while he drives.  Plus, I will probably do some of the driving since this is such a long trip.

So, this is where I need your help.  What do you do during long car rides?  Do you have any recommendations for road trip tunes?  For the record, I already have Mumford and Sons cued up and ready, since Brian needs to know their music when we go see them in February.

Anyone else being crazy and driving far distances for the holidays this year?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Favorites

Where did this week go?!  I feel like it's gone by entirely too fast.  Not so fast that there aren't new things I've been loving this week though.

Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Omg, how hilarious is this photo? Intense fake running ftw.

Yes, I love me some Twilight.  My friends and I like to say that the series is awesomely bad, and this movie was no different.  Yes, I've already seen the movie.  Like all the other movies in the Twilight Saga (ugh, I hate that term), I saw this one at midnight.  Except, this show started at 10 pm, not midnight.  I still don't understand why, but my old crotchety self loved that I got to get to bed earlier.



I was at a craft store this week to pick up supplies for a secret santa ornament exchange and I came across the cutest Christmas stickers.  I just couldn't stop myself from buying them.  So I bought the stickers.  Eight hundred of them.  I don't have the faintest idea how I am going to use all of these stickers, but I can't help myself when I see cute ones (and what stickers aren't cute?!).  My friends and family better like them, because I'm going to plaster them on all of our holiday cards.


I'm not sure whether we will be seeing this sure-to-be-amazing movie in the theater this weekend or not, but I am so excited for it and the media coverage surrounding it's release.  Lincoln is definitely my favorite president, not only because he did amazing things that forever changed our country, but because he is my homeboy.  I'm from central Illinois, the quite literally the land of Lincoln.  Abe spent a great deal of time in central Illinois as a politician and trying cases, so I have grown up admiring our nation's 16th president (I went to law school because of him).  I can't wait to see Daniel Day Lewis portrayal of the final four months of Lincoln's life.

Apparently, I'm really into movies this week.  Anyone else going to the theater this weekend?  What are you seeing?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Greece: Cheronisos

For our last day on Sifnos, we decided to explore the only part of the island we had not yet experienced, the northern village of Cheronisos.  The town is separated from the rest of the island by a very large mountain, making it difficult to access.  The bus only runs to Cheronisos a few times a day, and we missed the first one, so we were stuck in Kamares for a while.

We walked down by the port, but not before I stopped to take a picture of this beautiful succulent plant at our hotel.  I really love succulents, so I was in love with this plant.

Luckily, we caught the next bus to Cheronisos.  Just off the bus stop we found a path leading down toward the ocean, so we started on it.  Once it ended, we took the uneven rocks down to the ocean.  We spent some time relaxing and enjoying the water and rock formations around us.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Greece: Faros, Chrisopiggi, Platy Yialos

We headed to the south side of Sifnos island on our next day.  We started out in the tiny village of Faros, which is a small fishing village.

Unfortunately, there was not a lot to see in Faros, so we didn't stay there very long.  I managed to take a  few pictures around the town before we headed out to find more exciting landscapes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Favorites

I skipped posting on my favorites last Friday in lieu of sharing my recent haircut, but I'm back this week to share a few things I've been loving.

Green Skinnies

If you're on Pinterest, you've probably already seen this picture.  I swear it's been pinned by seventy five percent of the people I follow, but for a good reason.  I mean, how cute is this look?  So perfect for fall and winter.  The problem?  I can't pull off skinny jeans.  I have hips.  And thighs.  I have yet to find a pair of skinnies that actually flatter my figure, most just make me look ten pounds heavier.  So, unless someone has a favorite brand that flatters those of us with curves, these will remain something I just ogle online.

DC Roundhouse

Brian sent me the link to this house earlier, and I am in love (click the link if you want to see more).  The round shape is so unique and fun, and while the outside is quite traditional, the finishes are sleek and modern.  While we aren't making an offer on this (or any) home any time soon, it's fun to see what is out there and dream how we would make it ours.

Mean Girls quotes on pencils

There are few things I love more than Mean Girls.  I probably quote the movie at least once a day, and these pencils showcase some of the best lines from the movie.  I could probably come up with twenty more quotes for these pencils, not that I would actually use them if I bought them anyway because I wouldn't want to ruin them.

What are you loving this week?  Who wants to come watch Mean Girls with me?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Greece: Apollonia, Kastro, Artemonas

On our second day on Sifnos, we decided to explore the west side of the island, the capital, Apollonia, the ancient town of Kastro, and the historic town of Artemonas.

Via Greeka 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Greece: Sifnos Island

Before we took off to our final island destination, we spent a couple of hours enjoying our resort in Folegandros.  As I mentioned before, the night we stayed was the last day the resort was open for the season and we were the only people staying that night.

Brian matches the flowers in front of our room :)

Our room rate included breakfast, which is normally a buffet.  Since we were the only people at the resort, the staff said they would be preparing us a special breakfast.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Voting!

As I hope everyone already knows, election day is finally here!  The day has finally come for our citizens to cast their votes for our next president and I could not be more excited.  Not only will the political ads finally cease, but I love fulfilling my civic duty.

I miss the basic I voted sticker, mine is lame.

I won't get into my own personal political views here, since I'm sure you:
1) don't care, and 
2) are tired of hearing about others' views (I know I am!)

This year, for the first time in my life, I live in a swing state.  While the excessive television ads are beyond annoying, it is really exciting to think that my vote may actually matter in this election.  This thought alone made the very cold three hour wait at our polling place bearable.

The line at our polling place this morning, aka ridiculous. 

I encourage everyone to take the time to go out and exercise their right to vote today.  Others have fought and died for our right to do so in this country, and in other parts of the world people are still fighting for this right.  Plus, you'll get a sticker.

Anyone else encounter huge lines for voting?

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Long Overdue Post Wedding Chop

Yes, you read that right.  I finally cut my hair.  It only took thirteen months of marriage and my husband badgering me on a daily basis for the last month when I was getting my hair cut, but it is now done.

Let's take a look at the before, shall we?

My ridiculously long hair.  Also, self portraits are weird, hence why I'm not looking at the camera.

Obviously, my hair was not in great shape.  After almost two and a half years of growing without a trim, the ends were just plain gross.  I tried to cut off split ends when I saw them, but what my hair really needed was a cut.  And a cut it got.  

This is what almost two feet of hair looks like after it is chopped off and put on a coffee table.

And, this is what my hair looks like now, with about twenty two inches removed.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Greece: Folegandros

We woke up bright and early so that we could catch the ferry to our second island destination:  Folegandros.  The ferries are known for following 'Greek time', which may or may not be the time printed on your ticket.  Not wanting to miss the ferry, we ordered a cab early in the morning to get to the port way ahead of time.

Since we flew into Santorini, we had not been down to the port yet, and the cab ride there made me never want to do so again.  Santorini drivers are known for taking the steep, winding roads at high speeds, but I seriously thought this guy trying to kill us.  We spent most of the time barreling down 20% inclines on the wrong side of the road.  I was so traumatized I failed to take a single picture until we safely made it to Folegandros.

Safe at sea

September is the low season on the islands, so we ended up getting a great deal at a resort just outside Folegandros' capital city of Hora.  This place was a-mazing, check it out.

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