Friday, October 30, 2015

Have You Heard? // Hilary Duff - "Breathe In Breathe Out"

I thought I would give you a few catchy songs to start off your weekend! (or week if you are seeing this on Monday! :) )

I've always been a Hilary Duff fan.


Growing up she was one of my favorite TV stars. Lizzie McGuire was so relate-able, she was normal and fun, (not something I saw often elsewhere on TV) and she grew up well in the spotlight. I watched her movies and bought her albums. I wanted her prom dress in "The Perfect Man," I bought the pink high top converse when "A Cinderella Story" came out... you get the idea.


Then she grew up, she started a family, and her life in the spotlight calmed down a little bit. She took an 8 year break to live her life and define her goals.


Now she's back on TV, in her new show, Younger, which is hilarious...! She's a mom, and an actress, she sings, she's got a healthy body image, and she seems to be enjoying where she's at right now. She took time to figure out her dreams, and she's chasing after them. I'm finding that she's still relate-able, and still a good role model.

.... and she happens to have a "new" album out (it came out in June you guys... slacking over here!)


You guys, this is the catchiest album... ever.

It's so much fun, I think it would be great for working out, or commuting ... getting you though a boring work day.... I'm so glad I bought the deluxe version... because the deluxe tracks ended up being my favorite. With the best lyrics. :) Seriously, I'm thinking printables here.... (you can find it at Target).

Here is the first single, Sparks. It's so catchy. The music video is fun, and a leeetle crazy... but I kinda like her hair teal! I promise you this will get stuck in your head.



I really like this one too, and don't say I told you so ... but this might be KC's favorite... ;)



Alright, last one... put this on your workout playlist for sure...



She also worked with some other artists on this album, there's even a song that Ed Sheeran wrote.

While there are a few songs that are not my favorite, overall I think it's a solid pop album. It's very "feel good," and I'm into that.

I'm going to stop gushing about this now, you guys get the idea! :)

So, just put this one on your Christmas wishlist... it's fun, it will make you happy, you deserve to be happy. :) #treatyoself

Have you heard any of Hilary Duff's new music? (or what do you think of the songs in the videos here?)

Any other Lizzie McGuire / back in the day Hilary Duff fans out there?

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Halloween, Halloween, Halloween! // Get Festive

You guys, Halloween is so fun.
We are prepping for another Black and White Hallow's Night party here. Though of course the Royals are in the World Series.... which is super awesome(!)... but it does mean that there will be a game every night. Including Halloween. So I'm not sure how many people will show up. Even with the game on at our house. Hopefully some...!

While we put the finishing touches on our costumes, and plan out the rest of our menu, it has me thinking back to some past Halloween posts... if you are in need of a costume tutorial, fun Halloween playlist, or movie suggestions... click on! Or maybe that pumpkin waffle recipe... ? nom.



5 Steps to an AMAZING (& Cheap) Costume, Last Minute too! It's not too late! :)

Vintage and Indie meet in this Halloween playlist, *spook ! (6 hours long..... mildly more than anyone should ever need... but.... )

Halloween Movie Night Picks for the Kiddos, and the Scaredy Cats (*raises hand!*) A selection of fun costume-y movies, perfect for the occasion.

More Halloween Movie Night Picks, of the witchy and spooky variety. Or perhaps you want to start Witches of East End and watch it non-stop through the weekend? No judgement here.

Or you know, maybe you just want some Pumpkin Waffles... and Gilmore Girls... ?
I've been super busy on the invitation train, WOOHOO! But I have definitely been neglecting my various bucket and movie lists... and let's not even get started on reading in October... : / hah

What have you guys been up to?!

What are you doing for Halloween?!

XO,

Alexandra




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Simply Autumn Vol. I // A Cozy Playlist

I hope that fall is still treating you all well.

I have posted before about how fall is fun, but just not my favorite season overall. Well, this year it really really has me under it's spell. The weather has been nice, the trees have been pretty, we've done some fall baking and cooking... we're planning gatherings with good friends... it's all good.

Here is a playlist that I made for work, but has proved to be the perfect soundtrack to a relaxed weekend at home as well. It's mellow, and moody, lots of pretty vocals and dreamy lyrics. It includes a few songs from James Bay, a few from Vance Joy, Bastille, The Vines... just take a listen. I hope it lifts your spirits as you stare outside at the pretty trees. :)


Can't you just imagine yourself decked out in a cozy layered outfit, sipping on your fall drink of choice, crunching leaves under your feet?

*I added "Georgia" in at the last minute... I think it works*

If you would like to follow me on Spotify you can, or just press play right in this post. :)

More in the mood for something fun, vintage-y, and upbeat? Check out *spook, my Halloween playlist!

What music are you listening to right now?

Any that makes you think of fall?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lighthouse vs. Tugboat // Inspiration


Well you guys, this has been an emotionally strange week. I have felt so restless and discontented. Not really sure why, just in a funk. Things I've been pushing away are catching up to me... and all at once. Of course! ;)

Well, this morning I opened facebook, and my dad had shared this.

Now, I'm going to be real in saying... this is way more text than I will usually read on facebook. It just is...

But this is exactly what I needed to "hear" this morning.

Lighthouses vs. Tugboats

Lighthouses and Tugboats serve a similar purpose, they both guide boats to safety. But they do it in entirely different ways.

Tugboats go out into the ocean and they tug huge ships back to the port. They push and pull and they give their all to bring the boat back to safety. They work so hard to get the boat and themselves back to the port that they in turn wear themselves down.

Lighthouses shine their light to guide boats to safety. They are rooted and tall, they weather the storms, and the guide the boats to port. They are always a beacon, but whether or not the boat chooses to use the light as a guide, is up to the boat. It doesn't effect the lighthouse either way, it continues to shine it's light, it does not wear down in it's effort.

Like the guy who shared this, I am a relentless tug boat. I am always trying to help people, to save people, to make them better *fill in the blank*s. I give everything I have to make my friendships better, empty friendships, thinking that if I try harder, someday those friends might wake up and reciprocate. And it's exhausting.

I do the same thing at work.

I did the same thing when I tutored.

I did the same thing when I lived in student housing.

I did the same thing when I worked at my preschool.

And it's always hard for me to come back to: you can't make people care by pulling.

You can't tug them into being considerate, being a hard worker, seeing that you care about them, you'll just burn out your motor.

In the end you fail to help others and yourself. It's a lose lose situation.

They have to want it too, so don't burn out your motor, be the lighthouse instead.

Can you make people care by being the lighthouse? Sometimes, they still have to want it, but you do not exhaust yourself in the process of being a beacon.

This was exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thanks dad for sharing this, and thank you Sean Whalen for the original post.

I think I am going to make some type of free printable for anyone who would like to download and frame it, so check back, or let me know in the comments if you would like it emailed to you.

I personally could use a reminder of this by my desk and at home. :)

What are you guys thinking about this?

Any other burnt out tug boats out there?

How do you strive to be a lighthouse, do you have any strategies?

Happy Weekend!

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Wednesday Currently // Link Love


Freaking Over: GILMORE GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

... and also .... Paper Source has DARK GREEN ENVELOPES! DARK GREEN! Gah. Dying.

Eating: Chili & Corn Bread. nom nom.

Wearing: This pretty new scarf... $30 *ouch!* via Paper Source

Watching: iZombie - um sooo good. Thank you Netflix. Thank you sister for telling me it was so good... :)

Reading: The Blue Bloods Series - not to be confused with the show Blue Bloods, very different I'm thinking. Lets be friends on Goodreads!

Agreeing with: All of THIS. Thanks Kristen.

... and all of THIS. Thanks Meagan.

Listening to: James Bay.

Hoping For: Continued forward movement with Simply Alexandra Stationery! (anyone need Christmas cards?!)

What have you guys been up to lately?

Anybody else binge watching, over spending, or obsessed with corn bread?

XO,

Alexandra

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Have You Heard? // James Bay - "Let it Go"

I hope that you all had a great weekend! We spent ours with good friends, food, and fun games. :)

swoooooooon, have you guys heard this song? It's SO good.





I finally added his album to a spotify playlist... and now I can't stop listening to this one... this fella's lyrics.... so good.



This album is only $6.99 on iTunes right now... go get itttt! :)

What have you been listening to?!

Are you a sucker for good lyrics?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Fancy & Favorites // You May Not Tickle My Fancy!

Hi everyone! How's your week been?!

Mine has been long, long, long. 

On Thursday night KC and I got to volunteer for an international conference that we were hosting. We got to mingle, have cocktails, a dinner, and then see a fun show. We met two very nice men from Denmark who loved our city and were especially fond of all of the squirrels. 

It was really fun. Had I been less busy with work tasks I would have loved to volunteer more during the week. Kind of a bummer.

Anyway, we dressed up for the event, and we looked pretty good... if I do say so myself... so here you have a sorta-kinda fashion post. ;) 

This skirt is so so so so so so fun to wear! I highly recommend!

t-shirt: H&M, $20
skirt: Target, Clearance, $12
flats: Target, $20(?)
necklace: TJMaxx, $16
bracelets: Jeweled Gypsy Truck, $30?

Total: $98
Recent Total: $52


KC looking dapper. He may or may not be growing his hair out.

Maybe or maybe not for his Halloween costume. Maybe or maybe not for a man bun. 

hehe


We had so much fun!

I'm so excited to see Celtic Woman with him next week.

This may or may not be my 7th time seeing them live....


Lastly, I'm going to leave you guys with a link to Flula. Because that guy is ridiculously funny...

Grasshoppings and Fish in Barrel are my favorites, but this one is about Tickling Your Fancy... so there you go. I just love his commentary on the odd things Americans say. I could laugh for hours at these videos. The one about Twerking is pretty hilarious too... 

And as he is German... we've got a very international theme to this post, and no other consistency.. hhaa :) 

If we hung out in person, you would probably hear me making little flula quotes in everyday conversation. bhah

XO,

Alexandra

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

5 Steps to an AMAZING (& Cheap!) Halloween Costume


Oh, Halloween. Such a fun holiday. We all love to dream up costume ideas, and wander through the Target seasonal section looking for the perfect thing don't we?

Whether you are going out, staying in, or throwing your own party, dressing up is half the fun of Halloween. (for me anyway!)

But if you are anything like me, you have really good intentions... and really not-so-good follow through. You end up with an almost awesome costume.

Well, in the past few years I've had a lot of practice coming up with a great costume, quickly, and inexpensively. So I thought I would share some tips!

Read on grasshoppers. (ewwww... grasshoppers...)

1) Pick a Character/Person That is Iconic, but that Won't Require You to Buy a Ton of Things

For example, a costume that takes a relatively solid colored dress + a few accessories is ideal. Especially if those things are inexpensive and/or you will wear them again. Be wary of picking a character that might be too generic. For example, if you want to be Ms. Scarlet from Clue.... you probably need more than a red dress. Follow advice for #2 however, and you've got a recognizable costume.

2) Props & Details Are Everything


What does your costume have to have to be recognizable? For example, being Holly Golightly in the men's shirt with the eye mask, is not convincing without the eye mask. You might as well be Risky Business Tom Cruise. Spend the money to DIY the eye mask or just buy it. You'll be glad that you did. To carry over the example from #1 Ms. Scarlet is just a girl in a red dress, until you give her a a murder weapon, like a rope as a prop. When KC and I were Natasha and Boris we carried around a fake old fashioned looking bomb and a wanted poster that KC drew. Those things cost maybe $5 and took so little time to come up with. This topic leads me to #3....

3) Just Buy the Wig (or Pick Someone Who Has Your Hair!)
If you are going to spend money on your costume, this is often the place to do it. It seems silly, when will you wear it again, right? Well, Lucy just isn't Lucy without the vintage styled red updo, believe me we tried it. We just looked like us, dressed up, and mildly vintage. Daenerys isn't Daenerys without the braided flowing blonde mane. Often times these wigs are $20, in the grand scheme of things, it's not too much. Heck, Target has some for $10 this year! You can always plan future costumes around a wig you bought a previous year. Poison Ivy's red hair could easily become Ariel's in future years. Plus, that fake hair dye never looks good, and just gets on everything else. amIright? And, it's more fun because you will look and feel different,  more in character! It's especially easy to foot the bill for a wig when you do #4...

4) Thrift, Borrow & Repurpose the Bulk of Your Costume
If you are sticking with my #1 suggestion, this part shouldn't be too difficult. Elsa? Blue dress. Cruella? Red dress. Figure out what clothing you'll need, and rummage through your closet. Old formal dresses work well for costumes! Don't have it? Check with a friend or family member. Don't have time for that? Go to the thrift store. Goodwill and The Salvation Army have dresses for $5-10, in every color and size. This is also a great place to find weird shoes you don't want to spend the money on, handbags, and other quirky accessories. For Cruella, I thrifted my red dress, used red heels that I bought for my Poison Ivy costume, a camisole and jewelry I already had. I only had to buy my wig, and a few inexpensive accessories. I thrifted my Poison Ivy AND Natasha dresses from Goodwill too. None of them were more than $10!

5) Make It Work & DIY Your Heart Out


What happens when you find something that mostly fits the bill? Get crafty. I decided to be Poison Ivy the night before a costume party one year. I found the wig, I found the shoes and fishnets, ivy was easy to come by... the dress was the most important part. I stumbled upon a dark green dress at Goodwill that was perfect but it was REALLY long. I tried it on, it fit like a glove.... but again, so long. I have absolutely no sewing skills, but I knew the dress could be utilized. I took it to my dorm, put it on and had KC cut the bottom of the skirt off (a little longer than I wanted it). Then I turned the dress inside out, folded the bottom edge up and made a duct tape hem. It took about 5 minutes and it did the trick. The dress was perfect. Moral of the story: if you think something will work, put in a teeny bit of work. You can do it, and it will be worth it. :)

The biggest thing is to remember to have fun. Pick a character that you want to be. Then get creative, it will come together, and there is certainly no reason to spend hundreds of dollars!

I'm working on updating some of these tutorials but I'm going to put in these links anyhow:


Poison Ivy Costume DIY

Cruella De Vil Costume DIY
Natasha and Boris Costume DIY
Velma and Shaggy from Scooby Doo Costume DIY

What have been your favorite Halloween costumes? How did you pull them off?


What are you planning to be this year? Or is it a secret?


XO,


Alexandra

Monday, October 12, 2015

Have You Heard? // X Ambassadors - "Renegades"

I am just loving this song. 
It was kind of a summer anthem, in a non-anthemy way. (does that make sense?) But now that it's fall, I'm finding it's more of a 2015 anthem. :) 



What I've heard of the rest of this album is really diverse, I'm excited to hear more!


Have you heard this one?


Do you have any non-anthem-y anthem songs? lol 


XO,


Alexandra

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Simply Alexandra Stationery

Well, it would seem that this stationery business is working out well for the time being!






I've got an 80% time schedule at my office, which leaves me with one day per week to pursue this hopefully future career. And of course evenings and weekends. :)


I did my second bridal show recently, and it was good. I got to talk to a lot of really sweet brides, some grooms too, and lots of mothers, sisters, and friends. Most of those ladies have dates coming in late 2016 or 2017... so it's still early, but I have good feelings about it. I hope I get to work with some of them! See the post about my first bridal show here.


I'm getting emails inquiring about fun extras like table assignment cards, hand drawn maps, as well as fun wedding themes.


I've made announcements for two sweet little newborns, full invitations for one wedding, and maps for another, and a few more things on deck.

Overall, this is the most fun I have ever had "working".


I'm excited to start doing some Christmas cards, bachelorette party invitations, and other fun invitations in the future.


I spend a lot of time at paper source, I have more envelopes than I can count, and I just started practicing calligraphy with white ink.

It takes a lot of time, and a lot of stretching my brain, new skills being acquired... but I love it.


So this is really an just update, with a lot of gushing about how much I love to do this.


If you are interested in following along, or perhaps even placing an order, you can follow my page on Facebook, Instagram, and check out my website. :)

What have you guys been up to?!

Are any of you trying your hand at something like this? Working towards big goals? I would love to hear about it, and follow along with it! :)

XO,

Alexandra

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Movie Bucket List // 2015

I looove to get seasonal. 

I like a good themed party, a seasonal menu, festive playlists, corny socks, and a list of movies to match the holiday or season. 

Here you have my Fall Movie Bucketlist. Filled with movies and shows that are witchy, spooky, magical, silly... and everything else really. I tend to gravitate toward things with a dark plot or streak, especially in tv shows, so I'm extra excited for this season's watching! :) 

I haven't seen a lot of these, but I am SO excited to! I may have checked off 3 over the weekend! (whistling emoji)

Here we go, by category!

Witch-y Movies


Hocus Pocus

Practical Magic
Teen Witch
Witches of Eastwick
Bell Book and Candle
The Witches (90's & 40's)
The Craft
I Married A Witch
The Crucible
Death Becomes Her
Stardust

Halloween-y // Spooky

Hotel Transylvania I & II
Beetlejuice
Psycho
A Young Frankenstein
The Addams Family
Rebecca
Crimson Peak
Woman in Black

Fall Type Movies // Movies That Remind Me of Fall

The Proposal
Dan in Real Life
One Fine Day
Mystic Pizza
When Harry Met Sally
St. Elmo's Fire

Non-Witchy Magic // Magician-y

The Illusionist
The Prestige
Now You See Me
Scoop
Magic In the Moonlight - though let's be real, this is a summery movie....
New York Stories

Costume-y

These

Throw in some episodes of:

Witches of East End
The Munsters
The Addams Family
Bewitched
Sabrina the Teenage Witch
The Vampire Diaries
The Originals
Supernatural

Have you seen any of these movies or shows? 

Do you gravitate toward things with a dark mood? 

What are you hoping to watch this fall?

XO,

Alexandra

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Perfect Fall Meal // You're Welcome


Seriously, this is the best fall meal, ever. ever. ever.

Harvest Salad + Apple Pork Chops + Mashed Potatoes and the Sauce. Yum so so so so so good.

This meal will have four burners going (unless you make the mash ahead! I would recommend it!), so mix up the salad last. It's so worth the full stove!

Here we go!

Harvest Salad - Makes 6 Servings

borrowed, adapted, and enjoyed from Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson

1 tart, firm apple, chopped into chunks
3 cups lettuce, I used 50/50 mix
3 T. dried cranberries
3 T. chopped walnuts or pecans
Cider Dressing (1/4 c. olive oil (fruity if you have it), 1 T. cider vinegar, 1 T. apple cider, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove crushed, 1/8 tsp. dried thyme, crushed.)

1) Mix the dressing, toss with salad ingredients, top with freshly cracked salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Mashed Potatoes - Serves 6

borrowed, adapted, and enjoyed from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman

Kosher or Sea Salt
8 large potatoes (~ 4 lbs), peeled and cut in half, or fourths if you want to cook it a little faster ;)
1 cup milk (whole, or not whole mixed with some half and half or cream)
1/2 cup cream or half and half
4 T. (1/2 stick) of butter, cut into pieces
Freshly ground salt and pepper

1) Fill a large pot with water, salt generously. Bring to a boil and add peeled, cut potatoes. Partially cover the pot and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender when pierced. About 15-20 minutes.

2) Drain the potatoes, and return to the empty pan to dry them out. Stir for about 2 minutes until dried but not brown. Remove from heat and mash. Microwave the milk and cream/half and half for about 1 minute or until hot. Add the butter and hot milk to the potatoes and stir with wooden spoon until well combined.

3) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the pork chops, apples, and salad.

Enjoy!

Apple Glazed Pork Chops - Serves 6

borrowed, adapted, and enjoyed from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman

** allow 1-8 hours for marinating **

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
3 T. of canola or veggie oil, plus extra for the pan
2 T. low sodium soy sauce (regular works too... but we always go with low sodium!)
2 T. cider vinegar
1 tsp. grated peeled ginger (you can sub powdered, but fresh is SO much better and it's not high maintenance like fresh herbs I promise!)
Kosher or Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
2 tsp. cornstarch
6 pork chops, (we do boneless, but either works!)

For the Sauteed Apples (just say yes!!)

1 T. unsalted butter (or salted and skip adding the salt)
2 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced (we used honeycrisp, but any work, also we use the corer slicer tool and then I like to go ahead and cut each slice in half again, it's a really nice thickness)
1 T. maple syrup (the real stuff!) OR brown sugar
1 pinch of kosher or sea salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream **optional** - we don't add this!

1) Prep your pork chops. Combine brown sugar, apple juice/cider, 2 T. of the oil, soy sauce, cider vinegar, and ginger in a small sauce pan. Season with the salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce to medium heat to keep at a simmer. In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the cornstarch with 1/3 cup of water. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the brown sugar mixture in the sauce pan. Let simmer, stirring occasionally as needed until thick, about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temp.

2) In a non-reactive dish, grind salt and pepper into the bottom, and place the pork chops on top, flip them over allowing the salt and pepper to stick to both sides of the chops. Lay the pork chops out in a single layer in the pan. When the marinade is cooled, pour it over the pork chops, use tongs to turn them, coating both sides. Cover the dish with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 - 8 hours.

3) Remove the chops from the marinade, scrape off the sauce as you remove them. Pour the remaining marinade into a small sauce pan. Let the marinade simmer for at least three minutes to make sure the bacteria is killed. This will be your (AMAZING!) sauce.

4) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 1 T. of oil, once it is hot, add pork chops in a single layer. You may need to use 2 skillets or cook in 2 batches. Cook them without moving them for 4 minutes, then turn and cook 4-5 minutes more on remaining side, or until they have lost nearly all the pink in the middle.

5) While the chops are cooking, saute the apples in another small sauce pan or skillet. Melt the butter, and add the sliced apples.Cook the apples until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the maple syrup OR brown sugar, and salt (if using unsalted butter). Cook while stirring until the apples become glazed, about 1 minute longer. Sometimes... I add more maple syrup if it is looking too watery... If using the cream, add it and cook until heated through. About 2 more minutes.

Serve with mashed potatoes and salad. We like to put the apples on top of the pork chops and then top it with the sauce. We also use the sauce as a "gravy". Just do it.

Enjoy.

This is why you love fall.

You're Welcome. ;)

While you're hungry... here are 8 Favorite Fall Recipes... (two words: pumpkin. waffles.)

What are some of your favorite fall meals?

Linking up with Kari, who just happened to post these awesome freebie calendars of ALL THE MOVIES playing on TV this month in prep for Halloween. #amazing!

XO,

Alexandra