June 29, 2012

Deer(s) and other things.

Friday. I’m hangin’ out with the deers and hogs and stags and rams and wildebeest (etc) at the ranch today, but as per usual, I have some awesome new people to introduce you to. And yes, I know the plural of deer is not deers, but I like to say it that way to annoy Matthew. I’m a fun wife like that.

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A Home Away From Home is a blog by an expat named Jenna—a California girl who fell in love while studying abroad and then made the big pond-hop to Johannesburg, South Africa!  Jenna’s blog is full of gorgeous pictures and accounts of an exciting and extra-ordinary life, and to top it all off, she writes beautifully. Win-win. You can get to know her a bit better here. Get on that!

Jenna Blog | Twitter

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Love Always is a blog by another Austinite, the gorgeous miss Becca. She’s studying magazine writing and editing at the fabulous UT (I’m jealous), and I absolutely love a) the positive tone to her blog b) this post and c) her hair.  Get to know Becca a bit better here, and make a very cool new friend! :)   (PS – Can’t wait to meet you too, Becca!)

Becca Blog | Twitter

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If you love buying vintage and antiques, then this next website will blow your mind, It’s basically the hub of all awesome online vintage, and I swear, you could get lost perusing the extensive virtual aisles. Shop everything from antiques to vintage jewelry to vintage clothing, and note that you can organize items by price range with the tools on the left. Happy antiquing! :)

 
Website

Happy Friday everyone!

June 28, 2012

Blue Dahlia and Take Heart

I’ve decided I’m going to make a point to visit more new restaurants around town. It’s so tempting to eat out only at the tried and true, but I am thrilled every time I discover some new little hole in the wall of awesomeness.

I have a thing about chain restaurants. I hate them. I mean, I love them, but I also hate them. They are so lacking in character and authenticity to me. Chili’s? You may have the best damn Chicken Crispers and Paradise Pie my mouth has ever beheld, and Red Lobster, your Cheddar Bay Biscuits kind of make me want to cry, they’re so good—but your originality is non-existent.

You Austinites probably already know that this is a major foodie town, and we’re all about locally sourced ingredients and supporting small businesses. Especially downtown, there’s a hipster-run restaurant or coffee joint on every corner, and I am always so pleased by my visits to these places. Blue Dahlia on the east side, for example. It was a busy Sunday and my mom and I sat at a community table while we ate our delicious lunch and were serenaded by an accordion player.  I got the chicken salad sandwich with nuts and dried cranberries, and my mom got the prosciutto with mozzarella, pesto, and sun dried tomatoes. So. So. Yummy.

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Incidentally, right next door to Blue Dahlia is a fabulous little store called Take Heart, which my mom and I spent way too much time in. That has got to be THE perfect place to buy a unique gift for someone, or in my case, a few too many adorable cards. Makes me want to bring the snail mail back, I tell ya. For someone as postally lazy as I am, that’s saying something. 

There was even a cute dog in there. What more can you ask for?

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Happy Thursday!

June 27, 2012

Three Months

edd3
Three months. How can it be that long already? How can it be that short? Strange how it seems like a lifetime ago that Edd passed, and yet it seems like just yesterday, all at the same time. I still surprise myself with how quickly I can go from completely normal and carrying on with my day, to a sloppy, tearful mess. Like the other day, when I walked into my mom’s house and suddenly a wave of grief washed over me, out of nowhere. Their house. The place where Edd lived. The place where I held his hand and watched him die. The place where they carried out his body for the last time. The place where his ashes returned to rest, for now. The place where there’s still a closet full of his clothes, and walls full of his memory. 
I know I’m nowhere near the end of the “grieving process.” I find myself shoving feelings down—pushing them back through the cracks when they threaten to spill out. Memories flit across my mind sometimes, especially the dying ones, and I force myself to think other thoughts, because it’s still too much.  Whenever I sit down and try to write about it, I realize how much I’m still NOT close to coming to a place of peace. I avoid this because I break down every time. I miss him. I wonder where he is. I relive those gut-wrenching last breaths—the way, just seconds before he breathed his last, he opened his eyes for the first time in days, turned his head, and looked straight into my mom’s eyes for several seconds. Like goodbye. It was electric. And then he was cold, and gone, and it’s all so final, and even though I see it in beautiful ways sometimes, other times it just feels frightening and unfair and unreal and like too much.
My mom tells me stories of this beautiful love that the two of them had. It was positively magic, and the way he planned and prepared and organized during his life is still evident now, even after he’s gone. You do that when you love someone, you know? One time he told my mom, “I’d rather have cancer and have you, then not have cancer and not have you.” Wow. I want to love like that.
So I guess on this day, exactly three months after Edd’s spirit went on from this world, I just wanted to say that we still miss you so much, Edd. Do they have Internet cafes in heaven? Can you read this, and know?  You and I never had the affectionate kind of relationship—you were brilliant and an engineer and afraid of seeming “creepy.” But I knew you loved me, and my mom would tell me things you said. Towards the end, when you really weren’t you anymore, you told me that you always wanted daughters, and now you have them, and then you laughed sheepishly. I know that was you, shining through. I love you, Edd. You make me not afraid to die. Thank you for the way you lived.

June 26, 2012

Earrings Nation Giveaway

Today’s giveaway comes courtesy of a shop called Earrings Nation, which specializes in bridal and bridesmaids jewelry as well as lots of other pretty pieces suitable for just about anyone.  The winner of today’s contest will receive the sweet little bird necklace pictured below. Good luck!

EN

To Enter:
(only mandatory entry—please leave your email address if it’s not on your profile)

+ Pin a photo of one of your favorite items in the shop, and leave the link to your pin in a comment. If you don’t have Pinterest, please visit the shop and simply comment letting me know a favorite item.

For extra entries:
(all represented by separate comments, please)

+ Like Earrings Nation on Facebook
+ Like Story of My Life on Facebook
+ Tweet about the giveaway, and mention @JenniDtweets in the post.

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And the winner of last week’s theUncommonDog.com giveaway is…

random winner Congrats Anna! Hope Bella enjoys her winnings. :)

(reduced fat) Confetti Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe the other day, and decided to try out a slightly leaner version of it. It was sooo yummy, and freezes well, too. Here it is, with my reduce-the-fat changes!

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Reduced Fat Confetti Chicken Pasta
serves 4-6

For the Pasta:
16 oz. of Whole Wheat Penne Pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (the original recipe called for two, but I will use three large chicken breasts next time)
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ c. Onion, diced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 c. Broccoli florets
1 c. Asparagus, chopped in 1″ pieces
1 c. Grape Tomatoes

Cook your pasta and let it drain.  (tip: add a bit of olive oil to pasta water during cooking so the noodles don’t stick together). Sprinkle the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat skillet and spray with cooking spray, then cook chicken breasts over medium heat until no longer pink and juices run clear. Remove, cut into 1 inch cubes, and let rest in a large bowl.

Add the olive oil into the same pan you cooked the chicken in and begin sautéing the onions for 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and bell pepper and sauté another 2 minutes. Then toss in any other woody veggies (broccoli, asparagus) and cook about 5 minutes, saving the tomatoes until the very end. Cook another two minutes.

When everything is cooked, combine the veggies with the chicken in your big bowl. Now its time for the sauce!

For the spicy cream sauce:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour (whole wheat or white)
2 c. fat-free half & half
1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes
1 c. reduced fat Feta cheese or Parmesan cheese

In the same pan you cooked the chicken and veggies in, melt the butter over medium heat. Toss in the flour and stir, cooking 1-2 minutes.  (We are making a roux)

Slowly add in the half and half while stirring to prevent any clumps from forming.  Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and allow to simmer until you see boiling action.  Stir periodically.

When your sauce begins to thicken and bubble, turn off the heat and add in your cheese. Stir until cheese has mostly melted.

To assemble, place pasta over chicken and veggies in your large bowl, and pour in the cream sauce. Mix everything well, and serve.  (reheat if ingredients have cooled)  I found it needed a little salt and pepper. Enjoy! :)

June 25, 2012

A little Something Different

It’s always nice to change things up a little bit, you know? Go a different way home. Make a dish you never thought you’d try. Write a letter instead of an email. Or in our case, go to dinner and an older movie at The Paramount instead of seeing the fresh crap out at your local Regal Cinema. Right now the Paramount has a “summer classic film series” going on, and we watched Out of Africa with handsome Robert Redford and the ever-lovely Meryl Streep, back in the day. It was nice.

You should see what kind of new and fun activities you might enjoy in your town, too.  You never know what else a little change of scenery might spark….. ;)

storyboardtest003IMG_9946-1storyboardtest006IMG_9978-1 IMG_9982-1 IMG_9986-1IMG_0016-1Necklace by Megan

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June 22, 2012

Friday Features

Happy Friday, everyone! What are your big plans for the weekend? Matthew and I have date night tonight and… yeah. That’s about it. He’ll be studying the rest of the time, and I’ll be editing pictures. I just feel lucky to be getting a date night at all, with finals coming up for him next week!  :)

Anywho, enjoy the lovely ladies below, and be safe this weekend…

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Noa of Noablog is a fabulous photographer, mama, Harry Potter lover (had to throw that in), and an entrepreneur following a dream to open up her own photography studio in New Jersey. Noa has been a constant source of inspiration, humor, and help to me, and I know you will absolutely love her too. It makes me so happy to see beautiful, talented women following their dreams, and that’s just what this one is doing! Follow along on her journey as she renovates the (beautiful!) new studio, and go check out the welcome message she has for you here!

noa Blog | Website

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Gorgeous miss Jackie is the author of Perched, a suuuuper cute blog (hint: OWLS) about her life and love in New York City, baby. I’m jealous.  You can get to know her a bit better here (I hope you will!), because Jackie just seems like THE sweetest and THE coolest girl ever. And she has some seriously cute animals. You’ll see. Go say hello!

leavesBlog | Facebook

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Lovely Jen of The Arizona Russums is absolutely gorgeous, inside and out, and her blog is full of stories and inspiration from real life. Like this post, for example. Wow. Her and her husband Michah recently moved to Arizona and are documenting life, the good and the bad, and honestly, this blog is just a breath of fresh air. You will love Jen, so go on over and visit. :)

Jen    Blog | Facebook | Twitter

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Have a great Friday!

June 21, 2012

A Vlog: Crazy Google Search Terms That Led People to My Blog, v. 4

This post is a cop out. (my life is sort of dull right now.) I’ll let the video do the talking.

sidenote: Why does YouTube always choose the freezeframe where you look most ridiculous?!

Other Crazy Google Search Term posts from back in the day:

v3
v2
v1

June 20, 2012

The Uncommon Dog giveaway

Today Gracie and Cooper’s friends over at theUncommonDog.com are giving away this cozy, medium sized dog bed to one lucky pooch, so if you have a furry friend that might benefit from the winnings, be sure and enter below. :)


UCgiveaway

To Enter:
(only mandatory entry, and please leave your email address if it’s not on your profile)

+ Visit the dog beds section at theuncommondog.com and leave a comment letting me know one of your favorites!

For extra entries:
(all represented by separate comments)

+ If you have a Google Plus account, “plus one” the Uncommon Dog page
+ “like” Story of My Life on Facebook
+ tweet about the giveaway, and feel free to use this tweet: Cozy dog bed giveaway over at Story of My Life… check it out! http://tinyurl.com/878bkyn

Good luck!

* * * * *

And the winner of the Crafts and Love giveaway is….

random winner

Congrats Kristi! Send me an email and I’ll get you in touch with the shop owner. :)

June 19, 2012

Noteworthy Instagrams

I’ve had at least one photo shoot booked each week for about a month now, and due to the continuous photo editing, taking photos from my every day life with the “big girl camera” has become a little less enticing. I looove taking and editing pictures, but sometimes it’s nice to just snap an Instagram shot instead, ya feel me? A little less work.

There have been lots of projects going on around here, most notably the completion of our master bedroom decor, which took a mere two and a half years. I can’t wait to officially unveil the room (with photos from the big girl camera), but for now, here’s a little peek into what’s been going down. I came home from a shoot on Saturday morning and Matthew “surprised” me with the white ram as the latest addition to our gallery wall. Le sigh. (it is pretty though…)

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The next photo is a shot from the kitchen dining nook, where we finally (just this weekend) found a great antique cabinet and shelf to fill the space. I can’t wait to find more antique doo-dads for inside the cabinet!

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The cursory pup shots…

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And last but not least, Matthew also surprised me with some new Potter paraphernalia this weekend, to include a Gryffindor scarf, a Platform 9 3/4 plaque, a framed Diagon Alley map, and J.K. Rowling’s supplemental HP books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch Through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Needless to say, I was beside myself. It was like Christmas in June! Clear evidence that A) my husband really loves me a lot and/or B) he's coming up with more creative ways to get laid these days.

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Happy Tuesday! :)

June 18, 2012

$350 worth of styling products, anyone?

A while back I wrote a review of a seriously fabulous hair dryer sold over at Misikko.com, and I meant every word of that little rave I posted. So when I discovered Misikko is holding a “Dream Gift Package Giveaway” right now, I had to participate. Check out the contest rules:

Misikko Giveaway 

There will be three winners, and I’m hoping that two of them might be YOU. The other one I’m hoping will be me, DUH. Here’s my entry! 

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Misikko 

1.HANA Elite Flat Iron 1” | 2.HANA Styling Iron Cleaner | 3.Moroccan Oil | 4.Paul Mitchell Smoothing Gift set

So, I have massive amounts of coarse, wavy, frizz-tastic hair, and I would use this flat iron to tame the heck out of it. I’ve been using a Chi for quite some time now, but I’ve heard the Hana Elite is in a class of its own, and I’d like to see for myself. Secondly, of course, you need a good styling iron cleaner so your iron doesn’t goop up (you should see my Chi… *hangs head in shame*), and third, I’d love another bottle of Moroccan Oil. I absolutely love that stuff, though it’s a bit pricey. Free would be nice. Last but not least, I’d like the Paul Mitchell smoothing gift set, mainly because it has “smoothing” in the name, and that’s what my hair is in dire need of. So, pick me, pick me!

*(If you choose to create your own entry, just be sure and leave a link on the Misikko Facebook page so they know where to find you.)

Weekend Festivities, etc

The Show (Album Version) by Lenka on Grooveshark

Ah, Monday… you’ve come too soon!  My weekend was off to a rough start (you might not even believe it if I told you), but then it wound up being a really wonderful time with my husband and, yesterday, with his family. I’ve been overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness these past few days. Grateful for the people and the love in my life, grateful for life itself… I know, I know. Sounds so cliché. But it’s the truth.

Truth. Yesterday a friend described a blog as just a keyhole view into someone’s life, and that it is.  Sometimes I read the happy, life-is-always-puppies-and-rainbows blogs and I have to narrow my eyes a bit and say, “suuuureee it is. Sure.”

I see life unfolding just like any good story. Full of conflict and pain and flawed characters and high highs and low lows and turning points and crossroads and beginnings and endings. You write your own book, to an extent, but there’s always that element of out-of-control-ness, and isn’t that the beauty of it?

Just some random musings on this fine Monday. Maybe it will mean something to you, maybe it won’t.

But you definitely have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.*

IMG_9255-1 IMG_9259-1storyboardtest001IMG_9267-1 Matthew’s dad on Father’s Day

IMG_9281-1IMG_9285-1Matthew’s grandparents

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*from a quote by Joan Didion.

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