the talk :: the new year!

image via weheartit

So, it's New Year's Eve. I have a fabulous party planned with my best friend and her husband at their house, with a bunch of our close friends all dressed up and ready for a cocktail! I love a good New Year's Eve party. We usually go out, but this year we decided to avoid the hassle (and the cold!) and do it up right. I can't wait! And into the night we'll all get into our PJ's, stay up way too late, and have breakfast the next morning. Nothing better than ringing in a new year with best friends and a great party.

I hope your 2013 was full of surprises (good and bad), ups, downs, and lots of laughter and love from people. Why the bad and downs? Because those are moments that shape us. You can't have the good without the bad. None of us will never have a perfect life and bad things do happen to good people. But I've learned in my 27 years that it all has to do with perspective. Days will suck. People will pass away. Family will  be hard to deal with. Friends may get lost in the woodwork. Employment may be difficult. Money could be tight. But I believe that every single one of us is already equipped to get through it! Count the blessings instead of letting yourself fall into a pit. Make a list of things that you are happy about in your life. If you can't think of many, try to make a change! And when it comes to those dreaded New Year's resolutions, make your goals attainable, not impossible. Try to stick with what you say you'll do. And remember that "failure" has no place in your vocabulary! If you fall short one day, just accept it and try to do better the next. (Don't worry, I'm taking my own advice!)

Cheers to your 2013, and to a wonderful 2014. Make it count! And thanks so much for continuing to read this little blog :)

music monday :: handsome and gretyl

Happy second-to-last day of 2013! I took off last week to relax and catch up with friends, hence the lack of posts. But I'm back with some great music to start your week off right! It's one of those days where I'm wearing gifts from friends (shoes & jewelry, I mean) and I am running on five hours of sleep, but I don't mind for some reason. (I'm sure I'll feel dead later. Plenty of time left for that.)

On to the music! Sometimes you just hear a guy + girl duo and you immediately love them. I was wrapping Christmas presents one night with Spotify set to a holiday station when the song "Avalanche" came on. No idea how it got in there, but it was meant to be.

image via bandcamp

I really love this description of themselves: 

"He came from Toronto; she, from Seattle.
Both had music in their blood, instruments in their hands, and a mind to create.

The mountains led him to the west; a star led her to the north. 
In Vancouver they met and schooled—studying music and life.
They found promise.
They found love. 

In less than a year they put school on hold, got married, and lived.
With music and purpose guiding them, school called again and to Nashville they went. 
He became an audio engineer; she became a songwriter; music stayed central and they continued to create.

The couple formed Handsome and Gretyl and released their debut EP, Hold On Tight Love, February 2011."

What a fun adventure these two have been on! Their music speaks for itself, really. They're folky, down to earth, and lovely. "Avalanche" is my favorite so far, but I really love that whole record. You can listen to all of their music for free HERE. You have no excuse not to! :) Enjoy and happy Monday!

checking in

Good morning, friends! Just checking in today since I've been completely MIA this week. It's been a busy Christmastime and I probably won't be back to "real" posting until after New Year's. Until then, enjoy your family, friends, gifts, and relax! I'll be celebrating the beginning of 2014 with my best friends... can't wait!

friday favorites :: mixed up

My brain has been everywhere this week. Up and down, not able to sleep, wrapping presents, feeling sick, needing desperately to go grocery shopping, etc. But rather than complain, I want to share some of this week's goodness that lifted my spirits. Hopefully if you're having a hard week too, it will help!

1. This cat. Is. Making. My. LIFE. (thanks for this, roommate!) I can't stop laughing whenever I look at it!

2. Sometimes, you just need a reminder

3. This article. Interesting read, especially her thoughts at the end.

4. I didn't grow up making gingerbread houses, but after seeing all the lovely ones people are making this season, I kind of want to start! 

5. This album. Needtobreathe is amazing in person, you guys. My roommate and I were re-living the times we've seen them and we can't wait for their new album to come out so we can see another tour!

6. 50 DIY gift ideas from some of the most creative ladies who blog. (Especially if you need last minute holiday presents!)

7. And from the same ladies... Nutella waffles! YUM.

8. Reasons why Christmas was better in the 90's. YES.

9. A friend of mine has been into "psychobilly" this week... his suggestions: Tiger Army, The Horrorpops, and Nekromantix. Check them out with me! Always fun to listen to something new.

10. Handsome & Gretyl.  (I bet they don't build gingerbread houses.)

throwback thursday :: some oldies but goodies

I've been listening to some of my favorite old albums recently, and wanted to share for this week's edition of TT. (Look them up if you've never heard them before!) I find that the best part of looking back on older albums is the memories you associate with them, good or bad.

Dashboard Confessional - The Swiss Army Romance. The 10-year anniversary show that I went to for this album was INCREDIBLE. I still remember it, and it was years ago. And it reminds me so much of a good friend I had in college who changed my music world. He was the one who introduced me to Dashboard and Chris Carabba's work.

Copeland - Beneath Medicine Tree. This album speaks to my heart, musically and lyrically. It holds a special place with me because one of the guys in the band was best friends with my friend from college who I mentioned above. I'm so glad I got to know these guys in the 10 years the band was together. Their skill was really amazing and all of their work became so personal to me. Brightest, When Paula Sparks, and Testing the Strong Ones are my favorite tracks.

Good Old War - Only Way To Be Alone. I didn't discover this 2008 album until years later, and I'm still mad about it. Since discovering them, I have listened to their other albums as well and my appreciation for them continues to grow. Plus, they have some killer dance moves without even trying. (Speaking of - this band is one of my favorites to see live. Don't miss that opportunity if you get it.)

Paramore - Riot! I remember calling my dad at his work and telling him he HAD to bring home this album for me when it first released. He did and I listened to it on repeat for weeks. Still do! Paramore has been a long-time favorite band of mine since I was searching around on Purevolume with my friend one day and heard them. Haley Williams has the best female vocals and she can't be imitated. Love it.

Joshua Radin - We Were Here. I listened to this album a LOT in college... over and over again. I never get sick of singing along to Winter. And I just love his voice. When I play this record, I get brought back to my college dorm room, relaxing with friends and singing along.

Sara Bareilles - Little Voice. I first saw Sara open for Counting Crows one summer back in the day. I think it was right after this album came out. She was amazing. My friend Meghan that I was with kept telling me, "You need to hear this girl." That night I bought the album and haven't stopped obsessing over her since. (I call Vegas my karaoke song, haha.)

Share some of your favorite throwback albums in the comments!

** all images via google.

what they wore :: H&M sweaters

My favorite pieces of fall and winter this year have come from H&M. Since they finally opened their online store (thank God), I have been shopping for some necessities. My closet is always good to go with warm weather clothes, but I never have enough winter sweaters. Today, I wanted to highlight some of my current favorites!


1. This purl knit sweater. Grays and blacks are my favorite... this sweater looks so cozy! And it's only $10 right now.

2. The fine knit sweater. I have this one and I love it... it's lightweight and comfortable! Also only $10.

3. Stripes! Love love love. So nice and lazy looking with skinny jeans. This one's $20.

4. Cozy sweaters are necessary for winter! Especially when it snows. ($15)

5. I have and love this sweater.... my roommate calls it my ugly Christmas sweater, but I don't think it's ugly at all :)  I can appreciate a fun pattern! ($20)


6. Perfect for Christmas! Love the pattern.

7. I love a good deer print.

8. This is my signature thing, really... hearts on hearts! (My friends will tell you that.)

9. This with leggings & boots? Yes please!

10. Finally, pretty in pink.

Now I want to go shopping! Must wait 'til after Christmas....

** all images via H&M's website. this is not a sponsored post.

the talk :: the story of my life & other tales of hunger

Sometimes I just really dislike radio hits. Some are good. Some are not so good. When I find one that I don't like, I change the words to make it better. My roommate can attest to me doing this quite often in the car.

Prime example: You know that One Direction song that gets played 439873 times a day? I got hungry and this is what happened:

The story of my life
I want a scone
The oven's cold, will they be done in tiiiime
They're frozen

The story of my life
I give up hope
I make some eggs, oh no they broke insiiiiiide

The story of my life

[image via google]

YUM. And now I'm hungry. Sing it to a friend, maybe they'll make you breakfast? I don't know. (I need to test that theory someday.)

On that note, here are some recipes for you! 

1. Microwave everything in a cup! The single girl's dream.
2. Rubyellen's delicious family meals. If a chick with four kids and a husband can do it, so can I!
3. Chocolate chip (or crushed up peppermint bark) cookies from the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag. It will never fail you. And it reminds me of that episode of Friends... you know the one. (If you don't, Google it.)
4. Blue Mac and Cheese. I would substitute different cheeses since this one's a little strong, but the basic recipe is awesome! Just follow the measurements and change the cheese.
5. And on a healthier note... chips! Sweet potato chips. (Fooled you!) Such a good snack that you don't have to feel guilty about.

Last, but not least, my own mother's amazing crab dip recipe. I love you all enough to share it! My best friend requested it for our New Year's party :) The true heart of Maryland, right here:

(Just a bit of hot sauce... let's not get crazy here. And always Pillsbury French bread from a can. It comes out nice and warm from the oven!)

Enjoy! 'Tis the season for eating.

music monday :: glen hansard

FACT: My roommate and I are a little obsessed with the show Parenthood. (If you're a girl, you understand.) I have been watching since the first season, and recently she got hooked and started catching up on Netflix. It's been fun re-living all the scenes from the old seasons via snow day marathons! That being said, there is so much good music in this show. I'm always Googling the lyrics so I can remember songs and artists. One of these is Glen Hansard.

In the show, Glen is one of the artists that records at the studio owned by two of the main characters. I was watching him play on that particular episode last night and realized how much I liked him. (Well... he's Irish, so there's that. Already a win.) Then it struck me that I knew him already, just not on his own: he's one half of The Swell Season. He and Marketa Irglova (also of The Swell Season) were in the film "Once" as well. (See that if you haven't already!)  He's also formerly of the Irish band The Frames. Brilliance all around! What a genius.

Here's a taste of what he does:

"Drive All Night", his four-song EP, came out in November. You can stream it for free HERE.

Happy Monday!

friday favorites :: all the things!!!

Update from yesterday: I found my lost ring in my bed when I got home. Of course. Never (again) will I ever wear rings on their non-designated fingers!

Also: Tearin' Up My Heart was the first thing playing on the radio when I started my car this morning. So, there's that. This day is already great!

Many things have been making me happy lately:

[images via weheartit, target & nordstrom]

Peppermint bark. I have been eating wayyy too much of this. For the record, it is excellent when smashed up in place of chocolate chips for cookies. You won't ever regret that choice.

Seeing my baby brother while he is home for a week from CO. We did our usual hanging out last night with a million games of NBA Jam on the Super Nintendo (it's mandatory... I reached a 47-point record!). Considering I hadn't washed my hair in about four days, this picture is pretty great. (Bun to the rescue!)

Dogs in Christmas sweaters. Few things make me happier than these little guys being forced into the festive spirit! 

These heated blankets from Target. I have the leopard print one. It's soooo nice to plug it in when I'm sitting on my couch on the computer or watching TV. Nothing feels better than staying snuggly and warm under a blanket when it's 20 degrees outside.

Get ready to judge me: Kate Spade wrapping paper. I don't even care... I love these golden dots and my gifts shall be covered in them! I also might make a crafty wreath out of some of it so it's not a total waste of money. Kate's my girl. And you only live once. :)

Starbucks gingerbread lattes. I never really cared about drinking them before this year. I don't get Starbucks super often. But every time I go now, I have one of these delicious things. That, or a skinny peppermint mocha. I'm down with all the Starbucks skinniness.


Tonight I'm headed to my best friend's house for a little wine, snacking, and movie watching. Every year we have a date where we eat, drink, have girl talk, and watch The Holiday. The best!

Mmm, Jude Law. Love him every time.

throwback thursday :: the night of screaming teens & music machines

Can I be real for a second? This morning has been rough. I woke up after five hours of sleep, got dressed, got to work, and realized the {favorite} ring I had been wearing was no longer on my finger. This angers me and I felt like the only way to feel better was to blog about it.

<rant over.>

Moving on! Last NIGHT, you guys. How's that for a throwback? I went to a fabulous show hosted by the lovely people at 94.7 FM radio. Well... lovely is a term I use loosely. Because they were very loud and too enthusiastic and kept getting on stage to talk about things I didn't care about. Then they would announce that someone was coming on stage when really, they were coming on about 10 minutes later. Example: "And now... get ready for... GAVIN DeGRAWWWWWW!" Followed by screaming and shouting and clapping. Which was followed by... nothing. Because Gavin wasn't ready yet. Come on, radio station peeps.

<rant 2 over.>

Anyway! This show was great... let me tell you a million three reasons why. First of all, I have been waiting to see Sara Bareilles FOREVER. Secondly, her shows are like $50 and ain't nobody got cash for that right now. Third, the whole show was $50 but it included FOUR bands. I  call that a deal. 

FIRST UP! Plain White T's.

I'm not the biggest Plain White T's fan, considering they're more of a teenage fangirl type. But they put on a good show and I have to say, their bass player on the right of the photo was my favorite. Dude can hit a high harmony. He should have been singing lead. They played their usual catchy radio goodness. Can't really argue with people that sound good!

SECOND UP! Matt Nathanson.

Here's what I knew about Matt Nathanson prior to seeing Matt Nathanson: I was obsessed with his first popular record in college. I would prance all over campus listening to that thing. Here's what I learned about Matt Nathanson upon seeing Matt Nathanson in person: the boy is all about sex, sex, and more sex. He only writes about sex, he used analogies like Scrabble to describe sex, and likes to move his hips a LOT when playing music. I found it entertaining. I think my roommate is scarred for life. But all that aside, he is immensely talented and I loved seeing him.

THIRD UP! Gavin DeGraw. This one gets more pictures because I love him.

I haven't seen him play since college, but this man never disappoints me. He is forever great. My vocal chords adore him and he can do no wrong. Especially when he's looking into my eyes like that last picture. (But Sarah... why is that picture so good and all the rest are crap? Lighting, my friends.) He also had some new dance moves. My friends and I approved.

FOURTH AND FINAL: Sara Bareilles!

I've been waiting forever and a day to see this chick. I cannot get over (nor fully express) how amazing she is. She never screws up! She is a flawless singer, one of the most gifted I've ever heard. Although, when she did Gravity, the soul-sucking teenagers behind me were screaming the lyrics during what was supposed to be a beautiful, quiet song. I came THIIIIIS close to shutting them up but Laura stopped me. I now understand the true beauty of 21-and-over shows. I feel like the bands got those kids and their parents back for that one though, because everyone used the f-word and told inappropriate stories. Take that, underage children! Anyway. Sara. She was brilliant and I feel like I can cross a life goal off my list. 

So today I'm exhausted and we stood up for four hours straight and I'm now missing my brand new ring that I loved... but I got to be in the presence of some greatness last night, so it's okay. I'd trade a ring for Gavin and Sara. I will leave you with a favorite of mine from each of them:

Until tomorrow!