Fall is Coming. by Allie Farris

starbucks giveaway

Call me "basic" for loving fall, but if loving fall is wrong, then I don't want to be right.  My last fall in Nebraska lasted approximately one week.  The leaves changed colors and then a harsh winter wind tore them off and it snowed the next day. I was able to experience my first lengthy fall last year in DC and it was magnificent.  I engaged in all things "basic" for several months which of course included Instagramming pictures of leaves,  corn mazes,  pumpkins, my Halloween costume, and making my annual spicy vegetarian chili which is perfect for football season, and makes enough to feed an army (recipe below).  

Fall also means that my summer break is coming to an end, and I will thus require a steady stream of caffeine into my bloodstream, and as the above photo indicates, a little quiet time and a good cry.

This year there is one more thing for us "basic" fall/caffeine-loving folks to rejoice in.  Starbucks announced that due to popular demand, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), has a new recipe that includes real pumpkin and no caramel coloring.  So while September 7th is a national holiday, we can all toss on a big sweater, boots, and an infinity scarf and celebrate September 8th by sipping on the new and improved Pumpkin Spice Latte.  To make your PSL that much sweeter, I've partnered with some lovely ladies to host a Starbucks giveaway that will fund your Starbucks binges for a week or two.  Enter below for your chance to win! 

The Chili Recipe 

For me, football season is synonymous with chili season.  My mom would always make the biggest batch of chili that we would freeze and enjoy all season.  I tried out THIS CHILI RECIPE but tweaked the recipe a little bit to make it even spicier.  If you do not like really spicy chili, I would suggest using only 6-8 jalapeño slices.   Don't be thrown off by the fact that it's "vegetarian,"  If you've never used veggie crumbles as a substitute for meat, I think this is a good dish to start.  Our favorite brands for veggie crumbles are either Boca or Beyond Meat, and I like to cook the crumbles separately before adding them to the chili pot.  It makes the texture more meat-like. 

Ingredients. 

  • 1/2 tbs ground chipotle chili powder
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • 3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes,
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages Boca Veggie Crumbles
  • heaping 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 11 jalapeno slices (from jar)
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped

 

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in large pot. Heat onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt until onion is cooked through.  Add chopped celery, chopped  jalapeño, chopped bell peppers, garlic, and  green chili peppers to mixture., 
  • Heat additional olive oil in large pan on medium/low heat, cook veggie crumbles separately.  (I add some of the liquid from the pepper mixture to the crumbles while they cook). 
  • Next, add chopped tomatoes and veggie crumbles to your pot, followed by the chili powder, black pepper, and your rinsed/drained beans. 
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for an hour.   Serve with your favorite chili toppings!

Since Fall is right around the corner, I've teamed up with some wonderful ladies to give you a chance to win $175 to Starbucks! Can you already taste that pumpkin spice latte?! You'll have an unlimited caffeine rush, enter in the Rafflecopter below:

LIVE BEAUTIFULLY

AL

Open Closet Solutions. by Allie Farris

My husband and I are from the midwest where houses, yards, and closets are BIG.  We don't need the big house or yard, but the closet situation at our new place definitely leaves one wanting more (see below: exhibit A and B in our master bedroom).  

Feeling inspired from a lengthy Pinterest binge, I felt that an "open closet" concept could be a really feasible solution.  My husband has really nice suits and shoes that would look cool displayed, and I'm sure I could find five things from my closet that aren't too old, tattered, and/or clearance Target clothes circa '07.  

I really wish my husband and I were handier than we are, and could weld together some chic rustic pipes or whip out some custom cabinetry from an old refurbished barn door or something, but it's just not in our wheelhouse. So prior to moving in, we popped into The Container Store and chatted with a lovely sale's associate that worked in the Elfa closet section.  She had a fantastic computer system that she used to draft a customized open-closet solution based on our specifications and measurements.  The computer system was actually really sophisticated and provided limitless options.   It's a bit of an expense, but Elfa has a big annual sale (supposedly) at the end of December, so that should help out quite a bit.  In the meantime, I'll continue to scour Pinterest and swoon over these open closet beauties, won't you join me?  One of the pictures below actually inspired the paint color for our soon-to-be-painted bedroom.  I know you love the grandmother Gertrude shade of blue, but it gots to go

Now, let's swoon.

All photos have been linked to their original sources, and nearly every sentence below begins with "I love."  A very strong word for closets, I'm aware.

I love how clean and white and perfect this closet is.  I especially love the shelf that goes all the way across the top and bottom, and the hat box.  I love that too.

I love the mix of usable options this one has, shelves, hanging space, and shoe/accessory spots. 

I love the random dresser that splits the colors.  We have a dresser that we'll need to incorporate into the design.  The lights are cool too.

The bottom shelf is perfect, as are the uniform storage bins above.  

Yes, Yes, and Yes.  Somebody, please give me three cacti (cactuses? Google said either is acceptable) and a bright red purse pronto.  I love this eclectic vibe.  I want to be this person's friend.  Actually, I think I might be.  Her name is Staci, and she has an amazing fashion blog coming to you soon.  (This is not Staci's closet, but it might as well be).

The only thing this one is missing is space for long hang*.  
*(Sidenote:  "long hang" That's some really technical jargon that I just threw at you.  Us in the biz use it to describe the open space needed for your maxi dresses or rompers to hang uninhibited). 

Maybe you wood like this option better?

I wish I had the extra space for this cute island, but I do love the photos on the shelf for decor and the fun light fixture. 

Our dresser looks similar to the little one, so this is just a good reference, plus I love the shelf and minimalistic vibe. 

I dislike the material of this closet, but it's a nice use of space and a good combination of lengths for your various needs.

This large mirror, and those drapes.

Once again, this is just to get an idea of the way the space can be organized.  Unless you think I could convince B of this color scheme?

We are going to have a large unused space where one of our actual closet doors will need to open.  I love this large typography print, and I have a pretty cute idea for what I want one to say for our space.  I also love everything else about this photo.  This is a room that an interior designer did for a teenage boy.  I want this to by my room.  I'm not sure how to take that.

Once, again.  If only we were welders or carpenters.  

Quick Story. One time I bought a corner shower caddy that reminds me slightly of this floor-to-ceiling pole.  I handed the box to B for him to assemble and after several loud frustrated shouts and a clamor of other random noises, he informed me that "the stupid thing is clearly missing a piece."   It wasn't.  I went upstairs and whipped it together in no time. I walked down the stairs and announced, "Fear not!  I was able to assemble the shower caddy!" This was said with such pride and obnoxious smug satisfaction.  I walked by B with the swagger of an Olympic champion.  I may have even moonwalked in my socks on the wood floor.  

The next day, while showering,  I set my loofa on the hook and the entire shelf came crashing down.  B immediately shouted from the other room, "Everything ok, dear?!"  his tone oozing with pure uninhibited glee.  I came out and said, "Stupid thing is missing a piece."

 It wasn't. 

 In summary.  We will wait patiently for the Elfa shelf sale and pay the extra installation fee.  

Live BeaUtifully

Al

Three Homes in Six Years by Allie Farris

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We've Bought Three Houses in Six Years.

House Number One. I graduated college a few weeks before my 21st birthday, and a few days after turning 21, I moved my life into a 4-bedroom suburban house in Omaha, Nebraska.  My husband was scheduled to be away for work for the first few months that I lived there.  In fact, we had purchased the house over a quick weekend trip, having never even visited Omaha before... because we were in our early twenties and that made perfect sense to us at the time.   For those first few summer months, I could be found frolicking around my new suburban neighborhood, mowing the lawn in my college shorty-shorts, and getting Applebee’s with the neighbor ladies who heard I had just turned 21 and wanted to take me out to celebrate.  The Applebee’s cocktail conversation included, “So when are you going to have kids?”

We lived in that house for several years and learned a lot from it.  My age at the time probably contributed to the situation, but after playing house for a bit, I realized that I didn’t like living in a single-family home in the suburbs (good for her, not for me).  It was a lovely home in a wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by the kindest people, but after hearing word that we’d be in Nebraska for many more years we decided to sell our big house and move into a townhouse downtown.   We prepped it properly, and it sold in 8 hours.

House Number Two. I absolutely loved living downtown.  I loved the proximity to the Farmer’s Markets and coffee shops and the “hustle and bustle” of the downtown vibe.  We danced around the living room with glee during the first snowfall as we watched the plows go to work on the parking lot. No more shoveling snow! God Bless You, HOA!  I also liked how people kept to themselves.  Maybe it was the isolation of growing up on 10 acres, but I definitely did not like having small talk with people in the ‘burbs every time I checked my mail, too much social anxiety for such a daily occurrence, don’t get me wrong, our neighbors were the kindest people.  A total “It’s not you, it’s me” situation.  In the city, people rarely made small talk, but you still get to co-exist and soak up their energy.  Win-Win.  I loved it.  Home Sweet Home.

Just Kidding.  You're Moving To DC in 6 Months.

With freshly painted walls that were barely a few weeks old, we learned the shocking news that we were, in fact, not going to be in Nebraska for “many more years,” but were scheduled to move to DC in six months.  (Cue:  We literally and I do mean literally JUST bought a house panic attack). I soon waved goodbye to my family, friends, and the “Knitting Needle Gray” walls that I had deliberated over for a ridiculous amount of time.

So off we went to the DC area, this time we chose an apartment and cringed and cried a little when we saw how much more expensive renting a one-bedroom, 650-square foot space was than our Nebraska mortgage(s), but I loved every inch of that tiny space.  It felt perfect for us.  We somehow managed to save quite a bit this past year, and although we loved our apartment.  We started going to open houses several months ago to get a feel for the broader area and the housing market,  and then took the plunge and hired THE BEST REALTOR EVER.   I mean it.  If you guys are looking to buy in the area, let me know.   After quite a bit of terse negotiations, he helped us to land our new place! 

House Number Three. A townhouse on the cusp of the “suburbs,” but walking distance to a bit of hustle/bustle. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll; the perfect combination.  It has two bedrooms upstairs, an open living room/kitchen on the main floor, and a finished basement.  It feels insane to have this much space, almost weirdly wasteful.   For the first time in a year, I’ve had to shout, “Honey?!”  As in, “Are you home?  And if so, where are you!?” 

I’m sure my husband’s financial savvy soul aches when he thinks too much about our multitude of real estate purchases.  Unless you are flipping houses, you probably should NOT buy three houses in six years, but we did what we did, and life happened, and it has worked out..  Hopefully, this will be our last real estate purchase for quite awhile. 

Now please prepare yourself for a multitude of home décor posts.  Oh, I forgot to mention the fifth place I've been living, which is under a rock.  How have I never ordered from IKEA before?  If you follow my home decor Pinterest page, you'll see that there are definite "IKEA Hacks" happening in my near future. 

 

Live Beautifully

Al 

VoxBox Review by Allie Farris

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What a whirlwind the past 2.5 weeks has been.  The most notable:

·      My husband and I closed on a new house, and then I left the next day for a weeklong road trip with a friend in Ireland!

·      Upon my immediate return, it was time to move!    

I’ll elaborate on both of the above large life events on a later date, but before I do, let me share with you the little box of sunshine that I received right before my departure.  I recently signed up for VoxBox where I receive complimentary products to review.  The "sunshine box" is aptly named because these products are perfectly geared towards the summer months when we lose moisture (both in our skin and hair). 

The Products

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The Almonds. Not photographed above are the Blue Diamond Sriracha Almonds.  This is due to the fact that I ate them almost immediately after receiving this box.  I love adding almonds to salads, and the Sriracha flavor added a nice little kick.   

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The Nail Polish.  (SinfulColors Nail Polish I might as well be reviewing ammunition for handguns.  I literally never paint my own fingernails, and on the rare occasion (maybe twice per year) that I get a manicure, I opt for nude tones so as to be less off-putting when I inevitably forget to take the chipped polish off for the third week in a row.  My nails have not been a shade similar to this Real Teal since my days of mini bon bon nail polishes that... you guessed it, I left on for weeks beyond the “you should really take off your chipped fingernail polish" point.    For this photo I am strategically showing you my left hand for obvious reasons.  I’m out of practice.  What’s that?  You still want my opinion on this polish?  Ok then, I actually really liked it.  The polish, not so much the color.  This is three coats, and true to its name it really does have a silky matte-like finish.  I could (and do) just suck at painting my own fingernails, but the first two coats felt kind of splotchy and reminded me of the days when I would paint my nails with highlighters in elementary school (I was a classy lady).   

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The Lotion. (Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Soothe Spray Moisturizer)  I have a confession.  I’ve seen the “spray lotion” commercials in the past that state things like, “Who has time to rub on lotion these days!” and I’ve rolled my eyes a time or two.  That being said, I actually really liked the Vaseline Intensive Care Aloe Spray Moisturizer.   It was really lightweight, and with my sunburn-prone fair skin, I’m constantly in need of Aloe. 

The Make-Up Removal Wipes.    If you know what Dickenson’s witch hazel smells like, then this won’t come as such a shock.  Some of the other reviews I read stated that the smell was a bit off-putting.  It’s true.  It’s a potent smell.  I’ve used Witch Hazel in the liquid form as a toner before, so I didn’t mind it as much.  That being said, I usually use make-up removal wipes for more on-the-go purposes, and would opt for ones that are truly more fragrant free. 

The Hair Stuff.  I am constantly in search of products that calm the frizzy straw-like mess that occurs on top of my head if left unattended.  I desperately wish I had tossed this product in my bag for my Ireland trip.  My hair was in rare form after visiting the Cliffs of Mohr where my friend and I had been doused by a steady mist and what felt like hurricane winds.  I’m not anywhere near a beauty product expert, in fact I’m only barely a beauty product user, so take this with a grain of salt, but this product relaxed my “I went to bed with wet hair” look this morning, and for that, I’ll for sure continue to use it.  Plus it smells nice.

So there you have it.  Now if only I can remember to take this polish off before the school year begins.  Chipped Real Teal polish doesn’t exactly scream, “I’m a professional! Take me seriously!”  The green hue does serve as a little reminder of my time on the Emerald Isle.  Stick around for details on this:

 

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And this: 

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LIVE BEAUTIFULLY

AL