Break out the muumuu!

I bought water shoes last night. Amy thinks I'll need them. I also bought another bottle of SPF. I know I'll need it.

You see, I'm going to Hawaii! Friday morning at 6 a.m. I am boarding a plane for paradise and staying with my dear friend Amy and her husband Scott on the Big Island. Our college friend Alisha is coming, too!

Then, on Sunday, Kelly is leaving the Windy City to join us! I'm feeling so blessed to have such good friends in such a beautiful place with me.

We've got a luau scheduled. We're going to hike across volcanoes, sun ourselves on white sandy beaches, play in the Pacific and eat fantastic food. Kelly and I are even going to stay for a night in the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and get good and pampered!

But I think I might be most excited for the Kona coffee.

(All photos loving lifted from Amy's Facebook page.)



I just have to say it. I love eggs. I'm on a real kick here lately. I'll take them fried and crispy around the edges or scrambled and slightly under-cooked, but mostly I want them runny, rich yellow yolky, glossy white and perfectly poached. The flavor is out-of-this-world and the soppy yolk makes everything it touches so decadent.

If my Pinterest board is any indication, I've got some eggy good times ahead of me.

Prosciutto eggs!

Scrambled, with avocado and salmon on toast.

Just straight-up (microwave!) poached on toast.

Momofuku-style with grits, shrimp, bacon and scallions.
Made this - it's wonderful.

Joy the Baker-style - nestled into a scrumptious breakfast hash.
Have also made this - also delicious!

The ultimate egg sandwich.

What food are you currently crushing on?


Questions (v. important)

If you had a $100 gift certificate to a salon/spa, how would you use it?

Which color says "I'm on a tropical vacation" without being too on-the-nose?


Or jade?

Would your opinion of me change if I owned all the Twilight movies?

How would you spend a seven-hour layover in L.A.?

Am I a crazy cat lady if I buy this for my cat?


My Fifth Free TV

Neighbors, man. Sometimes community just blows me away. Not to mention how giving and good the Lord is.

Let me fill you in:

My brother (visiting this last weekend) notices a TV box outside on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. He looks inside and finds a TV. He says, "Robin, there's a TV in here." We decide to bring it up into my apartment in case someone had forgotten to load it into their car somehow or whatever. I ask around among the girls in my building and eventually one of them fesses up that she got rid of it because it wouldn't turn on one day and she wanted an excuse to buy a new one. So, now I have a 32 inch flat screen TV in my apartment that doesn't work. I decide it's worth a try to find out what's wrong with it in case it can be fixed on the cheap. Later that night, the Shepherds suggest that rather than consulting a TV repair person, I talk to a friend from church who is an engineer and as such obviously knows about electronics. I tell him the situation on Sunday morning and he says he can come over and check it out. He walks the .3 miles from his house to mine that afternoon and begins to gleefully take apart the TV on my dining room table. After researching the common problems with the particular make and model, he surmises that the power supply is faulty. So that gets removed and taken back to his house where he diagnoses a couple capacitors that are in fact the problem. Capacitors that can be replaced for $12. 

A tweet from my TV-repairing neighbor. Is he having too
much fun?

Now that you're all caught up, let me just tell you that this flat screen comes at a time when I could actually use an upgrade. My women's small group is meeting at my house and we're all crowding around my computer to watch the Beth Moore videos we're using to study James because my current tube TV doesn't have the right plugger thingies. I know - it's really not a dire problem. But you know, I think the Lord sometime blesses just to do it. Just because He loves us and it makes Him happy.

And, like, how cool is living in community? Someone can use his gifts for understanding electronic stuff to take apart his neighbor's broken TV and buy parts and fix it...just because? We're doing life together and helping each other and it just feels right.

We must have been made for this - community.


What a crock!

(Ahem. Sorry for the pun.)

For my first ever foray into crock pot cooking, I chose Joy the Baker's Roasted and Shredded Beef Sandwiches from my YUM pin board.

I whipped out my new-to-me crock pot bestowed upon me by two lovely friends who recently got married and found themselves with an abundance of slow-cookers. Since I wanted to do this right, I bought a locally grown organic 1.5 lb hunk of beef chuck shoulder roast from Whole Foods (I halved the recipe because it serves 12 and I am...not able to eat for 12 before things go bad). I selected some fresh herbs from my local grocer (setting back my non-existent herb-buying budget by about $15). And I bought some mayonnaise.

Then it slowly simmered and spluttered away and made my apartment smell a.maz.ing. And luckily, when I tasted it, I could justify every dollar spent on those fine, fresh herbs - the blend of flavors was exactly right. Piled on a fancy bun slathered with a horseradishy mayo, the sandwich needed only ribbons of sweet-spicy red onion to be complete. YUM, indeed!

I think I need some more crock-pot recipes. What are your faves?


February Birchbox!

So Birchbox. Have you heard of it? Basically, you pay $10 each month and get four to five deluxe beauty samples that are customized to your preferences sent to your mailbox. Who doesn't love getting packages in the mail? And what a fun way to try out the latest in beauty without having to buy full-priced bottles and tubes and packets and whatnot! Plus, sometimes Birchbox sneaks a full-sizer in there - like the time I got a Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Peacock, plus all the other sample-sized goodies. Some of my faves: Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil and Oscar Blandi Pronto Invisible Volumizing Dry Shampoo.

I've been a subscriber since November, so I've decided to do a little review of my February box!

First, a sample tube of Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Serum. 

I've used this for a day, and so far my blemishes don't seem to be clearing any faster or better than they do with my stand-by Clean & Clear Persa-Gel. But - Juice Beauty doesn't have any chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, which can irritate and leave bleached spots on sheets and towels. So maybe this stuff will find its way into my medicine cabinet after all.

A vial of SHU UEMURA Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil.

This sounds a lot like my beloved Moroccan Oil that I use in my hair. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm a staunch believer that nothing is better than Moroccan Oil. NOTHING. I guess we shall see.

Eye Rock Designer Liner.

Yeah. So, these are like eye liner stickers that you put on in place of the real stuff. And apparently this is legit. I don't know. I tried it and it was the most uncomfortable thing - a giant sticker on my eyelid! I kind of want to be like, duh. Who thought this was a good idea?? Also these styles are so not me. So, um...thanks Birchbox.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution.

No picture. I gave it to my mom...

Two packets of Supersmile Powdered Mouthrinse and a digital download of seven songs by Green River Ordinance.

The mouthwash:

Just add water! Interesting...
Mid-swish. Please forgive the pre-makeup and morning hair...
Actually feels quite clean!
And the music is Birchbox's "lifestyle" freebie. It's pretty good; sort of a folksy rock and roll that doesn't sound too unique but is better than Rihanna.

Sadly for my first Birchbox review, I didn't really get a good one. But February's questionable samples aren't going to keep me from giving it another go next month. You just never know when that new beauty staple is going to walk into your life and change it for the better!

What are some of your beauty go-tos that have changed your life?


My Best Gril

When I was younger and learning how to spell (so like, five years ago...ehhh), I used to get the "r" and the "i" mixed up in girl a lot. I also liked to draw pictures of my dog, Ruby. In variably, she always looked like a hot dog on stilts in my renderings.

These things don't have much to do with anything...but they're things my mom loved about me. Loves about me. My closest of close friends have only really known me for four, seven, maybe ten-ish years. But my mom - she's known and loved me since the day she found out about me 27 years ago. And all that I have been since that time I still am to her. She loves me year upon year, mistake upon mistake, success upon success.

And she's coming! In fact, according to Continental's flight tracker thing, she's right about....here:

Heading into the lovely mass of snow that's covering Ohio just in time for our trip back up to the farm. Doesn't matter - we'll be together. :)



That’s me. I’m her. As my mom so derisively put it this summer when she came to visit, I’m “someone who decorates with wine bottles.”

And I’m not ashamed.

Last year I kept all of the bottles that were finished in my apartment and rowed them up along the top of my kitchen cabinets, an otherwise awkwardly barren expanse.

I didn’t necessarily have a plan in mind when I started this, besides that I enjoy wine and I think wine bottles and labels can be interesting to look at. But I’ve found that they also carry a memory with them.Was this bottle shared? Was that one savored and swished alone over the course of two days a week? Was it a “people are coming over for dinner” bottle, a “girls’ night” bottle, an “I’ve had a rotten day and am feeling lousy” bottle?

I collected bottles (and memories) from 2011 that marked the time one of my former roommates and her husband came to Cincy for a wedding and crashed on my couch (Little Black Dress Pinot Noir); the evening that I was jilted by a guy and needed a night of self-administered comforts – sushi, flowers and Castillo de Monseran Garnacha; the weekend one of my best friends came a-visiting from Chicago and she splurged on us with a bottle of La Crema Chardonnay.

By the end of December I had glass scrapbook of good, important memories encompassing an entire year. And, if you know me...you will know that this is just about the only kind of scrapbooking I can get behind.

Some stats from 2011, if you care:
27 bottles total 
19 reds (most common was Cab)
8 whites (most common was Chardonnay)
8 screw tops 
19 corks

So far in 2012:
1 rose champagne
1 Pinot noir
2 Chardonnays
All corks

What about you? Have you ever collected wine bottles? Corks? Matchbooks from restaurants? Little jars of sand from all the beaches you’ve visited?


Another goal?

Remember when I talked about setting goals yesterday? Well. I’ve done it again! Actually, I did it before I set the blogging goal, but I’m telling you about it after…so...moving on!

Beth, my wonderful co-worker and friend, got me into this one. After reviewing my Goodreads profile and seeing that I read a mere measly 12 books in 2011, I lamented to her that I should be reading more and would be reading more if I still had a 45 minute bus commute on either side of my workday like I did in Chicago. So I checked 2010’s reading totals. 14. Obviously that commute added a lot to my reading time. 2009? 15. OOOOkkkkk…I decided that as a self-professed lover of books and reading, an average of 13.5 books a year would just not do. And that’s where Beth suggested the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.

In the spirit of setting attainable goals, I chose 20 as my total for 2012. Really, I wanted to read two books a month (24 total), but I worried about particularly busy months or longer books or books that take too long to get into, and so I went with 20 officially. Unofficially, I still want to try reading two a month, so that way I ensure I reach my goal and become an overachiever. But, we shall see. The evidence is pretty straightforward that even given an hour and a half of dedicated reading time a day, I still manage to crank out a little more than one a month.

So far, so good, though! It’s the beginning of February, and I’ve read three books!

Here’s what I thought:

"The Angel’s Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
This was thrilling! It was a hard one to put down. Definitely full of sensationalism and gothic gloom but still an intriguing story. I agree with most people I know who’ve read this prequel before me that it’s not as good as Zafon’s first book, "The Shadow of the Wind" (if you haven’t read it, read it). Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it and give it four stars, for sure! (And! I just found out that his third book, which picks up where “Shadow” leaves off, is set to release this summer!)

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I didn’t read this in high school or college, despite the plethora of lit classes I took. So, after reading a couple blogs posts in which the novel was praised as the greatest in American literature, in the 20th century and of all time and place, I started to think that I should get in on this and find out what the big deal is. It’s seriously good. Beautiful. Chilling. Crystalline in description. I reserve five stars for only the favorite of my faves, so I’d say this gets a 4.5.

"Abba’s Child" by Brennan Manning
This book started out great. I think the first three or so chapters really could have stood on their own as a shorter piece and gotten the same message across that the entire book did. It’s full of wonderful revelations about who we are in Christ – His beloved – and what those revelations mean to the way we view ourselves and live our lives. Christian non-fiction often wears a little long on me, so I’m not surprised by my reaction. Great stuff in here, though – three stars.


On Setting Goals

Here’s the thing. I’m not a very good goal setter. I tend to adopt the philosophy that if I never set goals, then I’ll never not reach them, thus eliminating the chance to ever be disappointed in the unreached goals. (The backwardness of this line of thinking does not escape me.) But for whatever reason, this year I’ve found myself with these tiny urges to set goals. To admit to myself that I want to accomplish something more than I want to face the chance of not accomplishing it.

To encourage myself in developing this new pattern of positive behavior, I am setting goals. Attainable goals. Goals I know I’ll be able to accomplish with a standard amount of effort – nothing more. Goals with lots of room for mistakes and missed opportunities. Wussy goals, but goals nonetheless.

For instance, my lovely friend Liz and I share a proclivity to blog sporadically. We made a deal recently that we would blog at least 52 times in 2012 – equal to the frequency of posting once a week without the entrapment of having to actually post once a week. Lovers of structure, we are. The deal was sweetened by the suggestion to see who reaches her goal the fastest, and then the loser will buy the winner dinner at Yoshi’s, a favorite Chicago eatery.

But, since this turned into a contest, we figured we should bend a little to the yoke of structure and create some ground rules.

1) Posts must be somewhat informative.
2) Posts must have at least 52 words. (Byline: Shorter posts can combine to equal one, i.e. two posts of 26 words will equal one legitimate post.)
3) No more than one post a day shall count toward the total.
4) Photo-only posts shall count only if there is a minimum of five photos that share a commonality and tell a story (sometimes there just are no words).

Our assessment after establishing ground rules (via Gchat):
Liz: I think that we should both post them on our blogs today. The world will keep us accountable (or the 10 people who read our blogs).
me: yes!!
Liz: Plus, it will put us each one post closer to 52 (although it will be a wash since we are both doing it…)
me: but I am one ahead!!
Liz: Oh, I’m not worried about that…
me: haha
i am getting excited about this challenge
i can almost taste that delicious red snapper with the head still on
Liz: I’m looking forward to a nice steak prepared by Mr. Yoshi himself.
me: ooh he does real good steaks
real real good
Liz: indeed
This is going to be good.

Right?? It is going to be good! Hooray for attainable goals – I think you should join us!


Old Business

This is it! My triumphant return to blogging after taking a month and a half off. You know....holiday stress. Whatever.

Anyways! Let's get you all caught up shall we?

This is how I spent my time in Houston over Christmas.

(lucky kitty)

That and wrapping presents.

And helping prepare this spread!

After seven days in the Lone Star State cramming in as much family time as possible, I headed back to Cincy, where one and a half days after my return, two of my favorite people showed up to help throw an epic NYE Martini Shake-Off!

Kelly, Liz and Robin - party planners extraordinaire!

The Chicago crew in Cincy...we just can't celebrate NYE without
each other.

The goodie table

The other goodie table

Happy party goers

More happy party goers

A shaker

More shakers!

Mixing and mingling

A total of 37 people crammed into my one-bedroom and got their shake on while the clock counted down to midnight. There were people in the kitchen, the dining room, the living room and a few even stuck in the bathroom from time to time. It was so fun that I completely forgot about a conversation I had in which I adamantly advised against using my dirty broom to clean up the after-party mess. But. I think people had a good time. I've even heard rumors of plans to unseat the current champs (Team Peppermint Glory) next year. 

That's all I've got by means of catching you up. I'll blog again soon on more current matters like how much I love my Dyson vacuum cleaner, the state of my barren pantry and whether or not I'll have lost 30 lbs by the time I leave for Hawaii(!).