25 November 2013


The past two weeks have been crazy. Of the ten business days, I was in the office for half of them. For the other half, I was on a bus with dozens of students. Two days with freshmen; three days with juniors. We visited seven college campuses and watched several movies. Because what else do you do for hours at a time on a bus? We traveled well over 1000 miles. But now? I'm home. And we're on Thanksgiving Break! Yesterday I desperately wanted to decorate for Christmas, but I forced myself to do nothing. Well, except for a visit to the grocery store, barn sale and salon. So here's what I'm up to:

I participated in a couple of adoption fundraisers on Instagram (same family, two fundraisers). Each time, I paid $5 to send and receive a gift from someone. Most recently, I received my Christmas Exchange package. And OH MY GOSH. It was wonderful. I received on a day that was just crazy. And I hit the exchange jackpot! My super sweet exchange partner went above and beyond! Katy scoured my IG feed, noticed a few repeated themes and ran with it! I received my first coffee cozy (knitted by Katy) (or maybe crocheted?), the most adorable mini-dachshund hoop, felt donut ornaments (with supplies and instructions for me to create a couple more!) and a frame with several coffee prints to be changed as often as necessary (though that one seems quite perfect). 

I decided that I should be able to cook lots this week. I planned a few meals and grabbed groceries. First up? Chicken & dumplings.You should know that I make really good chicken & dumplings. But I found a new recipe that I wanted to try.

If you grew up with a grandmother who made chicken & dumplings, then you know there are two teams: Team Fluffy Dumpling and Team Slick Dumpling. Grandmothers make only one version. Mine made slick dumplings. She had no use for fluffy dumplings. And I didn't either. (Because I'd never had them.) But I found a recipe that piqued my interest. The picture from this blog made them look not-too-fluffy. So I decided to give them a go. 

OH MY WORD. Y'all. They fluffed up nicely, but then they started to dissolve. Dissolve! For a pot of dumplings, there were only about a dozen semi-cooked dumplings when I pulled them off of the heat. 

Never again. Never. again. I'm sure my grandmother rolled in her grave when I decided to make a fluffy dumpling. I was left with a pot of dumpling broth, 12 semi-cooked dumplings, a huge mess of a kitchen and takeout from Jason's Deli. I vow to never stray from the recipe I've always used.

The Funeral Dress | Susan Gregg Gilmore
I've enjoyed Gilmore's The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove and Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, so I was excited when her next book released. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far, I really like it.

The Lumby Lines | Gail Fraser
The Mitford Series is one of my all-time favorite series. I found the Lumby Series and hope that it is as enjoyable, though it's been a rough start. (I've actually read the first three chapters several times, as I let so much time lag between readings.)

As part of the adoption fundraiser (mentioned above), I created something Christmas-y to send to my Christmas Exchange friend. Here's the deal, I consider myself to be creative. But I don't create regularly, so it leaves me with a lack of confidence. So I mulled over what I would make. (The gift had to be handmade.) I decided to recreate felt hand-stitched ornaments that I made in college. I also did a very simple calendar and found some cute chalkboard tags. I'm sending it out tomorrow. It's a week late, so I hope she's super gracious. And that she loves her exchange.

14 November 2013

november, so far

It's mid-November. Which is a bit unreal. The leaves have changed and are falling from their branches. Caramel and cinnamon and pumpkin have made an annual appearance. Oddly, we've had two nights of frost that claimed my beautiful fall mum. But these frosty mornings make for a beautiful drive to work. The fields are shimmery with white that disappears as the sun makes an appearance.

Never one to wish time away, I'm always excited for November. Days are cooler, which makes for cozy clothes of tights and sweaters and boots. And nights come sooner, which makes for cozy nights with soup and hot chocolate and pajamas.

Over the weekend, I made the decision to decorate my mantle for fall, making the change from Halloween. I debated since I'll decorate for Christmas in just a couple of weeks, and I'll be gone for about five days. I didn't know if the effort would the worth it. But you know what? It was. I did very little, but it's nice to have the change from Halloween. And it makes my pumpkin-scented candle even sweeter.

On Sunday, J and I headed to Dallas for a concert. We thought we bought tickets to a Lord of the Rings concert. You know, they'd play some of the themes from the movie for a couple of hours, and we'd head home. Then I decided to read about it the night before. We actually watched the movie while an orchestra and choir performed the score. SO MUCH BETTER than we ever expected. We both caught things we'd never noticed before. And it was my first time to see LOTR after watching The Hobbit, so even more things made sense. So, so good.

Before the concert, we were able to meet up with our sweet friends, Steven and Christine and their daughter, Luci Belle. We hadn't seen them in months. Let me tell you two things. One: if you live in Dallas, you must check out their farmstore, Urban Acres. They're open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And it's adorable and local and organic and fresh. Two: we had the best lunch that was cooked by Steven, all with ingredients from Urban Acres. Butternut squash soup drizzled with balsamic vinegar and grilled cheese on amazing sourdough bread with a fig jam and two kinds of goat cheese, perfectly grilled with just the right amount of butter. I chose to dip my sandwich in the soup, and it wasn't a bad decision at all. I attempted to recreate this meal last night, but the cheese and fig jam weren't the same. I'll be back in Dallas for Christine's baby shower this weekend, and I intend to purchase exactly what I need at Urban Acres.

This picture is stolen straight from Urban Acres' Instagram. Look for the chicken on the red building. You won't miss it. See the guys on the left side of the building? They're installing a deck. You can grab a sandwich for lunch and eat on the deck, and then follow it with a scoop of Jeni's Ice Cream.

So, that's our November, so far. I feel certain there will be more to share as the month continues.