12.29.2016

Bookworm: Triptych


YAY! I stumbled across a new author - i.e. one of my most favorite things to do.  Thanks to Abby over at Crime by the Book, I was introduced to Karin Slaughter.  I honestly have no idea how I had not heard of Karin before...especially since my Mom (my reading buddy) has read her before.  Apparently that one just slipped right over my head! I went to the library and picked up the first three books in Slaughter's Will Trent series.  The first book is Triptych and I couldn't wait to dive right into it. I think the only reason it took me more than a couple of days to read this story is because I started right before Christmas Eve when the parties and shenanigans took over.  

I am SO glad I found Karin's writings because Triptych was right up my alley.  A murder mystery with a surprising character twist was just what I needed.  When my family recently asked what I was currently reading, I think I got a little too excited to say I'm onto a new serial killer.  What gets me the most interested in these type of crime novels is the mental and psychological aspect of the criminals.  Trying to get inside their mind to figure out what is it that makes them hurt, mutilate, and kill other human beings?  Sometimes I find myself going to Brennan's mom while I'm reading these books to see her take on the characters as she is a social worker.  


I know a lot of people are not fans of when there are numerous story lines within one novel, but I really thrive on these types of writings. I like to see how different people and their lives really affect another's.  In this story, we start out with Michael who is a cop investing a local women's murder.  Then we are introduced to Will Trent who comes in to help Michael solve the murder.  Once Karin has given us a sufficient introduction to the plot and what type of murderer we are looking for, she popped over to John who has recently been released from prison on parole. We are taken down John's path and start to see the spider webs that connect him to Michael and Will.  Hearing John's story and realizing he might have been wrongfully accused also pulls on my wrongfully convicted heartstrings.  I have read novels, true life stories, and wrote term papers about this issue and physically ache at knowing that so many men and women are being imprisoned (and potentially put to death) while the real murders are still roaming the streets!!

Have you read Karin Slaughter? What do you think?!
___ 

Goodreads Summary:
In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael's lover before she became his enemy.

But another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer's trail in the most coincidental of ways—someone who may be the key to breaking the case wide open...
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12.28.2016

sushi x

Brennan and I LOVE sushi! Our favorite place to go is Sushi X Lounge in Latham.  They do an all you can eat for $22-$24, depending on whether you go during the week or on the weekend.  Even for $24 it's a great deal for sushi lovers like us.  As long as you keep eating what you order, you can sit there all night! 


We always start with some appetizers - usually the crab ragoons and the seaweed salad. Ahh the seaweed salad is to die for! It is bright green and so crisp!



For the sushi, I always let Brennan choose the different rolls. Typically we just randomly select different ones to try something new. Our favorites are anything with eel and crispy salmon! I mean come on...look at how fresh that is!!!
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12.27.2016

window treatments


WOOHOO! We have window treatments in our living room and dining room! The past couple of months we left the windows open as I searched for drapes. I had an idea of what I wanted, but just hadn't taken the time to find the right ones...until now! I'm glad I waited because I was able to score the Pottery Barn Texured Cotton Tie-Top Drapes while they were on sale! To go with the rustic look we are going for in the living area, I chose the cast iron rod with ball finials.  


One of the MANY reasons I adore Pottery Barn is that they ship super fast. I ordered these Sunday or Monday and they all arrived by Thursday!


The drapes are made of pure cotton and I was happily surprised that they are thicker than I was expecting.  Our windows are most likely original to the home, so a little barrier between the cold air is exactly what we were looking for.   I started out ordering three panels - and am actually going to put in an order for three more to make them bunch up a little more. I chose a crisp white knowing that they would pop with the blue walls....and yay I was right! We are super happy with these and definitely recommend them!

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12.26.2016

oh crumbs



"Good job eating all those bananas you made me buy." - Brennan to me, as he rolled his eyes

Well Brennan, I put those last few bananas to use and some some banana bread.  Yes, I used my KitchenAid mixer and no I didn't burn the house down. :-)


Oh, and can we all appreciate how adorable this Kate Spade pan is?!


Used this recipe from allrecipes.com. 

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 tspn baking soda
1/4 tspn salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/3 bananas
2 eggs

Prep:
1 | Preheat oven to 350* + Grease loaf pan 
2 | Combine flour + baking soda + salt
3 | In separate bowl, cream butter + brown sugar 
4 | Stir in eggs + mashed bananas into mixture from step 3
5 | Stir banana mixture into flour mixture
6 | Pour mixture into loaf pan
7 | Bake from 60-65 minutes, depending on your oven
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12.24.2016

Christmas Punch

Merry Christmas Eve
In honor of Christmas officially arriving, I'm sharing my new favorite Christmas punch!


I have always been a huge fan of a holiday punch. Brennan's family has always done a version with ginger ale, fruit punch, and sherbet that guests love.  B & I recently had my family over for dinner and I tried out a new version and I have to say, I love it! I looked at different recipes on Pinterest until I had a few ingredients I liked. It's super easy, cheap, and you can totally put your own twist on it.


Ingredients:

Ginger Ale
Cranberry Juice
Pineapple Juice
Limes
Fresh Cranberries
Glass Pitcher (I picked mine up at HomeGoods for $8!)


Pour roughly equal amounts of each juice into pitcher. If you prefer one over the other, adjust!
Pour Ginger Ale in (I filled about 1/3 of the pitcher)
Cut one lime into thin slices. Squeeze the juice out of the two ends right into the pitcher and put all slices into the pitcher.
Top off with a handful of cranberries!


Having an all-grown up shindig? Try adding Malibu Coconut Rum or plain Vodka!
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12.23.2016

Light (plug in) My Fire


To our great sadness, when we first viewed the house we realized that there was not a fireplace.  I was really hoping for one as my dad's house has one and the houses (in their original versions) were built very similar. B and I have decided that when we add on, we will look into adding a real fireplace and maybe a gas one as well. For now, we spruced up our living room with an electric one! 



We looked at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Bob's Furniture but everything seemed too large or just too expensive. We wanted the fireplace to go under the tv that we have mounted on the living room wall.  At first B suggested a white wood and I was totally on board as the white would blend in with all the white trim.  However, the only white one we liked was at Lowe's and you had to special order it.  Everyone knows how much we adore Lowe's, but one thing we are not fans of is their special ordering process - once the item ships to the store, if you decide you do not like it they charge you a re-stocking fee. I have been known to change my mind (who doesn't?!), and without being able to see the fireplace in person before purchasing just wasn't a smart idea for us. 


Last weekend we ended up driving up to Clifton Park to check out their selection and the fireplace Gods graced us with the perfect piece! We were shocked to find it at Lowe's as we had not previously even stumbled across it online in our search.  The feature that stuck out to us right away was that it had barn doors! Thanks to JoJo and Chip, I'm pretty sure most of America is currently obsessing over barn doors. They fit with the other furniture we have been selecting, and when we design our bar area we plan to add a barn door. 


Needless to say we scooped the last one up immediately and B wasn't home twenty minutes before he started to unpack and assemble. The assembling was not difficult, but it took him a few hours as there were just so many tiny steps and as usual he wanted it to come out perfect. By Sunday night we were snuggled in front of the fire and I was snapping away Instagram post after post!
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12.22.2016

welcome to homeownership



With everything going so well with out home, it was no surprise that something annoying was bound to happen! Not long after we closed and started to work on the house, we realized our furnace just was not working properly.  It was blowing air, but no matter how high we turned up the thermostat the heat wouldn't get above mid-fifties.  LUCKILY for us, my Uncle C knows basically everyone in the Albany area and called up his one buddy right away. That next day P came over and helped us out. With a little magic and a new thermostat we were up and running hot air! 

Everything seemed good until this week when I woke up and found the house at 55*! This week being the coldest yet, we were frozen and slightly scared about our pipes. We reached right out to Uncle C and P and like angels P came over within hours to help us out. LUCKILY again for us, our furnace just needed a new blower. P ran right out to the store and installed a new one for us and had the heat blasting by the time I got home from work. 

When buying an older home, you know you will run into issues, but B and I can vouch first hand that it's very scary! You never know what it will cost to fix the issues and the thought of more damage being caused makes you know that you will do and pay whatever you have to. 

As I used LUCKY multiple times, I really do want to send out a heartfelt thank you to Uncle C and P for being there for us.  And Brennan...thank you for being the calm one and making sure Chip and I have a safe and warm home to come home to at night. 

Yes there are struggles in being a new homeowner, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  
This little house is ours and we love every inch of it. 


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12.21.2016

Update: Front Door


I posted before about B and Bob putting in our new front door, but we finally got around to painting the entryway! We extended the same blue from the living room and hallway and it's perfect! The pop of blue against the bright white door and the gorgeous windows makes me a very happy girl. 


I am still working on designing the front closet, so no pictures on that just yet! There is a decent sized closet that had brown doors. Just like all the other closet doors in the house, I had B take them off and leave them off. There's just something about dark doors that gives me a closed-off feeling that I just hate

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12.17.2016

Bookworm: Overruled


 As a lawyer and avid book reader, whenever I come across a book about lawyers I can't pass it up. Especially when the story also deals with drama, a little love, and yes a little sexy.
(Madison, I'm totally thinking about you explaining my Goodreads list to your teachers. Haha)

Recently I came across author Emma Chase and "The Legal Brief" series.  First up was Overruled starring Stanton & Sofia.  Quick review? I LOVED IT and gave it ***** on Goodreads. Emma kept the storyline going the entire time; I didn't get that "ugh move on" feeling once.  Oh and the sexy I mentioned above, just the right amount!

Stanton and Sofia work as defense attorneys in DC with their friends Brent and Jake.  S & S are "friends with benefits" and are clear with the understanding that Stanton has his girl and his daughter back home. With their hectic lives as attorneys, S & S are perfectly content with their relationship and don't wish they were more...but do they?!


Upon finishing the book last night, I immediately went to the library this morning and picked up #2 (Sustained) and #3 (Appealed).  They each spin off on the group - one with Jake and one with Brent.

Goodreads Summary:

As a DC defense attorney, Stanton Shaw keeps his head cool, his questions sharp, and his arguments irrefutable. They don’t call him the Jury Charmer for nothing – with his southern drawl, disarming smile and captivating green eyes – he’s a hard man to say no to. Men want to be him and women want to be thoroughly cross examined by him.  Stanton’s a man with a plan. And for a while, life was going according to that plan.  Until the day he receives an invitation to the wedding of his high school sweetheart and mother of his beloved ten-year old daughter. Jenny is getting married — to someone who isn’t him.  That's definitely not part of the plan.
***
Sofia Santos is a city raised, no-nonsense litigator who plans to become the most revered criminal defense attorney in the country. She doesn’t have time for relationships or distractions.  But when Stanton, her "friend with mind-blowing benefits" begs for help, she finds herself out of her element, out of her depth, and obviously out of her mind. Because she agrees to go with him – to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Mississippi – to do all she can to help Stanton win back the woman he loves. Her head tells her she's crazy...and her heart says something else entirely.
*** 
What happens when you mix a one stop-light town, two professional arguers, a homecoming queen, four big brothers, some Jimmy Dean sausage and a gun-toting Nana?  The Bourbon flows, passions rise and even the best laid plans get overruled by the desires of the heart.
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12.14.2016

Bookworm: The Women in the Walls


Recently, I picked up The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics from Barnes & Noble.  Looking for something a little "dark," B picked this one out as it had a resemblance to Anne Rice's The Witching Hour.

As with most YA novels, this one was a pretty easy read.  I really got into it in the beginning as I was eager to learn of the family legacy that plagued Lucy.  As the story went on, I did feel certain parts were stretched out a little longer than necessary.  However, once the secrets started to be revealed I was eager once more.  If I could change anything, I would want a little more at the end.  I felt there was a lot leading up to the last page...then it was over.

Goodreads Summary
"Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.  When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations."

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12.12.2016

Finally...A New Bed!

After using the same bed I've had since graduating college (let's not discuss how many years that has been), B and I finally invested in a new one! We started doing research on different brands and stores, but didn't decide to pull the plug until Black Friday weekend.  


First we went to Metro Mattress - you know, the sleep superstore (ha, I crack myself up) - and went through the whole process of trying out different mattresses.  We hopped from bed to bed while the sales associate explained the differences and tried to determine our perfect fit.  After about an hour, B and I realized that the guy was only concerned with making a commission and it wasn't the place for us.  That night B did a little more research online and we found some great Black Friday deals at Mattress Firm.  We went the next day, and the nicest sales associate led us straight to the one we were looking for.  She was actually focused on us as the customer and what we were asking for.  We went with a king size BeautyRest and it was delivered this past week.   


Our thoughts on the process:

The mattress is HUGE.  We are in LOVE.
It couldn't be more comfortable. It has the exact amount of cushion mixed with firmness.
The mattress, boxsprings, and frame were delivered in great condition. 

The only issue we had with the whole process was that the day before the bed was to be initially delivered, we got a phone call saying it was backordered.  So we had to wait another week for delivery, but they delivered it on time this week and were very friendly. 

Mattress, Boxsprings, Frame: Mattress Firm
Bedding: Kate Spade









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12.11.2016

Nana's Fudge


What's one thing that everyone loves doing at Christmas time? BAKING! From fudge to cookies to cakes, it's the most wonderful activity - baking with loved ones, in a warm toasty home, listening to Christmas carols.  Honestly, I couldn't have asked for a better Saturday afternoon. Among the 'house chores' B and I did yesterday, we made sure to take a little time out of our day to start our holiday baking.  B comes from a long line of Italians, which means cooking and baking is in his blood.  His mother, AM, is one of the BEST cooks/bakers I have ever met. Seriously, whether she's making her special sauce for prime rib or her signature sour cream cookies, the food will literally make you go "mmmmm" with eyes closed. At least it does for me!



When we think about and plan our future together, one thing B and I know for certain is that we want many family traditions and to really make our house a home.  So the tradition of Christmas baking officially begun in our new home yesterday! 

First up: Nana's fudge. 


Can't give away all the ingredients...maybe AM should make a cookbook?! 



Yum. Yum. Yum. Sorry I couldn't make a fancier picture of the final product - B and I are too busy eating it!


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12.10.2016

llbean dog bed

Not to be outdone by Mommy & Daddy who just got a new bed (stay tuned for a review!), Christmas came early for Chip today when a package from Nana arrived!  He has been bugging us for an LL Bean bed, but we were waiting until the one he wanted was in stock. Lucky for him Nana found it! 


He got the large Premium Fleece Dog Bed in night. Yes  Chip is only 7lbs and he has the large size bed.  Hey, he says he wants to have enough room to share the bed with his aquarium of toys.




I know Christmas is still 15 days away (what?!?) but we gave it to him early! I mean how could you not with that little face!

Thanks Nana!
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12.04.2016

Whirley Poppin'

Last year for Christmas my dad blessed B with one of the best gifts EVER - a Whirley Pop!! My dad and April have had a Whirley Pop for years and you will pretty much never see a bag of popcorn in the microwave.  Oil, kernels, and a popper are the only way to go.  


In support of our love for America and all things red, white, and blue, B picked up this tricolor popcorn at The Fresh Market.  



Last night we had a movie night to watch Elf for this first time this holiday season.  We pulled out the Whirley Pop and were all excited for tricolor popcorn.  Well, sadly we found out that the colors are only applicable to the kernels...when the popcorn was popped it looked like regular old white popcorn. #sigh 

On the bright side the popcorn tastes DELICIOUS.  You can tell it is a healthier version, but it doesn't skimp of any of the flavor! With a little butter on top (obviously) we were ready to snuggle and wish Buddy good luck on finding his dad. 
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12.03.2016

Elk...It's What's for Dinner

This afternoon we officially moved into our house! We still have some random boxes and items at my dad's to move, but the essentials are here and we are sleeping over! To celebrate this insanely exciting day, B grilled up some elk steaks for dinner. We love trying different types of meat and my awesome friend at work kindly gave us a whole bunch of elk meat. 
 

B put some Montreal steak seasoning on each piece and grilled it up on our charcoal grill.  Yes charcoal grills take a little longer to heat up and cook the meat, but mmm that hint of charcoal on the meat is delicious! We threw a few hotdogs on there as well - Chip needed something to eat, too! (No we didn't feed him all five!)


With a little side of potatoes with parsley, we sat down in our dining room and enjoyed our first meal in our first home as a family. :-)

Couldn't.  Be.  Happier.
(Hey #16, we love you)
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12.01.2016

Lights


Ok, so one thing with our home (and most older homes) that I have to get used to: no recessed lighting! I have grown so accustomed to having tons of lights throughout my dad's house that our home is such a different ballgame. The sellers were kind enough to leave us a few lamps so we haven't been working in total darkness. 


Now that we have really started to settle in, B and I are on the hunt for lamps. We are thinking a mixture of floor lamps and table lamps for the living room, dining room, bedroom, and office. At first we thought this would be a fairly simple task, but not so much. 



 Have you shopped for lamps? I can't believe how many there are and how many crazy ones! We are looking for simple, classic, and not so expensive that you'd rather buy a piece of furniture. I've started a Pinterest board in hopes that we'll find what we are looking for! 
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