High Five for Friday

Let's talk about what we love about fall, ok? And let's link it up to High Five for Friday.

First: boots.

Second: cozy sweaters.

That may or may not be from j.crew.

Third: Grande two-pump Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Fourth: Meeting charming, English Olly Murs and being kissed, twice, by him. (Not really much to do with fall, but it made me happy this week.)

Fifth: bold lips.

I've decided to bring them back. This is the Baroque Lip, as demonstrated by The Beauty Department here.

Now you go! What do you love about fall?


Birchbox: September Issue

Just as fashion and beauty mags stuff their September issues so that they're more than an inch thick, this month's Birchbox was stuffed with goodies! Let's see how they worked out.

This Color Club nail polish is called Put a Pin In It. Apparently this is a custom Color Club shade, made just for a special Birchbox collection. 

The subtle dusty pink hue doesn't translate well in these pictures, but it's really quite pretty and shimmery. For some unfortunate reason, though, it's one of those colors I like better in the bottle than on my actual nails. 

 Next, there's this scent by Bvlgari - Mon Jasmin Noir.

I'm happy that it comes in a pump tester, instead of one that you have to dab. The scent is strong; one spritz is all I need. I'd say that it's a good fall scent - warm and rich. I like the way it smells, though I'm not wowed by it.

Now this. This stuff is good. Vasanti BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator.

It's like I'm giving myself a facial every night! I've used this for the last four days and I can say that my skin feels way smoother, looks brighter and more even. No kidding! It's enriched with papaya enzymes which dissolve the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, and the microderm crystals give me a great exfoliating treatment without the redness and sensitivity that come from full microdermabrasion. Then it's got some vitamins and aloe that sooth and nourish. I am liking it, let me tell you.

Birchbox interestingly threw another skin care product in my box - A WEI-to-go Sleepover Kit with two packets of Real Clean Gelled Oil Cleanser and one of Ideal Skin Perfect Finish.

The concept of a Sleepover kit is somewhat lost on me, since I don't usually find myself spending the night somewhere without properly packing. But. Samples are samples. The cleanser is kind of strange - it's a mix between a gel and an oil, it doesn't foam and you're supposed to put it on a dry face and then rinse off. I mean...it works. But it was weird.

The other component is a really nice foundation-type product. It's very lightweight, which I love since I rarely use foundation. And it gave my skin a glowy, even tint.

Also in my box were these brush guards and a twistband hair tie.

The brush guards are a great idea! I store my makeup brushes in a bag along with everything else (bathroom counter space is seriously limited in my bathroom), and I'm always pulling them out and finding their bristles bent or split or whatever. These guards are the perfect solution. Three were included in the sample, perfect for my three most-used brushes - foundation, all-over shadow and flat liner.

The twistband I'm not as excited about. I've gotten one of these before in my Birchbox and they just don't hold up. Here it is on day one (Did you know? It's really hard to take a pic of the back of your head!):

I didn't overuse it, I swear, but by day four:

Stretched out, fraying on the end, and the knot isn't nearly as perky or cute as it was the first day. Maybe these are made for people with flat, thin, silky straight hair. That is most definitely not me. I need functional, lasting elastics more than I need cute, I guess.

Birchbox also included a digital download for two Tristan Prettyman songs, which is great because I really like her. And, AND! A coupon for $25 off a $75 or more purchase at Madewell, which is great because I really like shopping. :)

If you want to get your own Birchbox and get deluxe samples sent to your mailbox each month, click on this link: https://www.birchbox.com?raf=6tm7o


Having a Martha Moment in the Kitchen

I get Martha Stewart Living Magazine, which I love, and in the September issue is this recipe for The New Chicken Dinner. It's Roast Chicken with Broiled-Vegetable-and-Bread-Salad. I thought it looked quite tasty and that it would be the perfect use for the leftover chicken pieces I had in my freezer...so I made it for dinner one night last week.

I didn't do things just like Martha (I know...but who can, really?). But basically, it's the same idea and methods. I think this is a perfect meal to throw together out of leftover roast chicken, or, in my case, chicken pieces that are taking up room in my little freezer. Got some vegs that are going to go bad soon? Throw them in, too!

To get started, I assembled my ingredients: pepper and salt, a few mushrooms, half a loaf of Italian bread, a lemon (just used half), chicken thighs and drummers, fresh oregano, garlic, red and orange bell peppers, red wine vinegar, eggplant, two ears of corn (didn't use), olive oil and arugula.

It seems like a lot, but I had most of this already in my fridge/freezer/pantry/herb planter on the porch - I had to buy the arugula, but any lettuce-y type stuff would work. I just didn't have any. I also had to buy the eggplant. But that was it!

So, I cleaned the fat off the chicken, seasoned it well with salt and pepper and slipped a sprig of oregano under the skin of each piece.

Then I fit it all in a single layer, skin side down in my cast iron skillet. 

I roasted this at 475 for 45 minutes.

While the oven was going, I sliced up the half-loaf of Italian bread into two-inch pieces, put the slices on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil and slid them under the broiler.

When both sides were browned (not very long - just a couple minutes), I took them out and while the bread was still warm, I rubbed a halved garlic clove over both sides of each piece. Then cut the bread into bite-sized pieces.

Then it was time to do the vegs. I halved and then quartered...and then eighthed(?)...the eggplant and cut the peppers into quarters, removed the seeds and membranes, etc.

I put the eggplant, peppers and mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzled olive oil, sprinkled salt and pepper, tossed and then it was their turn to do the broiler thing for 10 minutes, flipping half way through.

When the chicken was done, I removed it to a plate, and poured the juices from the cast iron skillet to a glass measuring cup, adding olive oil to make it a 1/2 cup, the juice of half the lemon and one Tbs. of red wine vinegar. I also threw in the garlic cloves I used on the bread.

I stirred it around really well and added salt and pepper.

Then! Assembly! 

The vegs got chopped into bite-sized pieces and all went into a bowl where they were mixed around.

I layered the arugula on my plate, followed by some of the vegetables, then bread pieces and finally some chicken. I poured a little of the dressing on and voila! A lovely, yummy dinner!

This made quite a few servings, so it would be perfect for a family or, in my case, something to re-assemble throughout the week for dinners and lunches. If that's what you want to do, just store everything separately so it doesn't get soggy.


Back From Hiatus

So I took a little blog break it seems. Back to it then!

Since we last chatted (or rather, I rambled on and you read and possibly left a comment (leave more comments!)), things have been typical end-of-summer busy. I've been

lounging outside,


attending outdoor concerts with friends,

going to Findlay Market,

taking a sushi-making class,

throwing a sushi-making party,

throwing a good-bye party,

getting mani/pedis with visiting best friends,

drinking wine with visiting best friends,

making dinners,

eating German food and drinking German bier,

going home to visit the fields and my family and to watch football with my bro,

hanging out on porches,

spending time with this animal, 

and this one, too.

What have you been up to?