Project 12 // February 2015.

 *Project 12 – A photo on (or around) the first day of each month.*
{Idea credit & linking up with  The Lady Okie}

February:

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A Valentine’s day bike ride to keep those hearts healthy –
in love and in the cardiovascular sense.

Read:
In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – 3 stars {Kevin}
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – 5 stars (re-read it, still loved it)
Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation by George Washington (copied from translation by Francis Hawkins – 1640) – 4 stars
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell – 3 stars
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy – 5 stars (re-read it, still loved it)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – 3 stars
Christy by Catherine Marshall – 4 stars
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty – 4 stars
The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion – 5 stars

Travel Adventures:
Kevin took a day trip to Farmington for work.
Kevin traveled to the land of eternal sun for a Suns basketball game and father/son bonding time with his dad.

Noteworthy Days & Events:
February 1 – Super Super Bowl party at Nathan & Alex’s house – great company and the game wasn’t too shabby either.
February 2 – Booked flights to Europe!  Springtime in Paris, here we come.
February 5 – Amy and Derek had second-row seats for a local theatre production of Anatomy of a Murder (two thumbs up!  great show!)
February 7 – Vet appointment bonding time for Kiki and Rue – united in their hatred of veterinary offices and the humans who drag them there.
February 12 – Earned an adulthood gold star by getting life insurance.
February 14 – Valentine’s Day – read more here
February 21 – We bought 5 boxes of Thin Mints.  Only to support the Girl Scouts – not because we wanted the cookies or anything.
February 27 – While Kevin was in Phoenix, the ABQ area was hit with around 8 inches of snow.  Amy binge watched season one and season two of Parenthood and only felt mildly claustrophobic, home alone (which you know she LOVES) with all that “severe” weather {seriously – people who live in snowy climates, HOW do you do it?}.

Ate: (new recipes & restaurants)
Prepared this lemon salmon – baked in an aluminum foil pouch
Met Kelly & Nelson for breakfast at a new-to-us spot – Gravy
Triple date with some friends at another new spot – Piattini
Prepared this Whole 30 approved beef and Brussels sprouts entrée.  Except I forgot to buy the sprouts so we used zucchini squash.

Tell me something about your February!

Stitch fix bliss.

You’ve heard of Stich Fix, right?  I’m late to the party, but I finally threw myself onto the bandwagon.  And I’m sold.  It is fun – like big-mug-of-hot-chocolate-on-Christmas-morning-and-it’s-snowing-outside fun.  {Hey, I know how to have a good time.}

First step – fill out a questionnaire on the Stitch Fix website.

Second step – schedule a delivery.

Third step – tear into the box of five items that arrives on the doorstep, specially chosen for you by your stylist.

Fourth step – try on all the items and decide what to keep.

Fifth step – keep them all.

Maybe that fifth step is just me.  I don’t really have a go-to “style” – bohemian, classic, preppy…I like them all.  Which probably makes me Stitch Fix’s dream client.  Kevin rues the day that I decided to sign up for this bottomless pit of clothes and money, I’m sure.  But even he admitted that all the items were worth keeping.  And keeping all 5 pieces meant that I saved 25% on the total price.  I didn’t want to lose money on this deal…   There’s probably a team of statisticians on staff at Stitch Fix.  They have developed some kind of magic formula for the exact combination of variable prices that will result in it being most economical to keep all the items.  I loved the dress.  I loved the jeans.  I loved the scarf.  I loved the cardigan.  I liked the shirt.  The price was right to keep the shirt and get the 25% off rather than sending back one item and losing out on that discount.  Fascinating math.

What’s that?  You want pictures?  Well, you’re in luck because I played fashion shoot with a full length mirror and an iPhone.  #shootforthestars

The dress:  it was love at first try-on.  It’s this really pretty bird pattern to which – shockingly – my high quality photos don’t do justice. For your viewing pleasure, I paired it with black Born Crown boots and winter white legs.

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The jeans: they’re great.  I wear jeans 7 out of 7 days most weeks, so these will get a lot of time in the game. Shirt is J. Crew and black cat is Rue (and adorable).

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The cardigan and scarf: staples and so versatile.  I wear a lot of dark blue and I’m always cold, so these layering pieces are right up my closet.  Jeans are American Eagle, boots are Bucco, and green shirt is Target’s finest.

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The shirt: I was uncertain at first – but I’ve worn this shirt more than any of the other items since I got a box a few weeks ago, so now I’m glad I kept it.  Paired here with old J. Crew cords, striped flats from Ideeli (also old), and a Charming Charlie necklace.  It’s lightweight and very forgiving – I bet you can’t even tell that I just ate a {large} handful {or two} of Thin Mints.

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My next Fix arrives in May because I exercised an enormous amount of self-discipline and signed up for the every-three-months option.

Interested in trying Stitch Fix yourself?  Click here {full disclosure:  that link will show that I referred you and I earn credit on the site}.

What is your signature style?  Do you shop online, in the store, or some combination of both to stock your closet? 

Five things you don’t know about me.

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1. See that ^^.  Kevin and I have spent the past few years building a rubber band ball and we’re pretty proud of it.

2. At any given time, I have 3 to 5 half-empty (or are they half-full…?) water bottles in my car.  I don’t know where they come from or what they want from me.  They just kind of…appear in the center console cup holders and stashed in the door cubbies.   Then one day I glance down and there are five of them, scattered around the car.

3. I avoided mushrooms for years when I was a child, claiming that I was allergic to them.  Now I love mushrooms.

4. Moscato is the only wine I’ll drink.  I don’t care how “sweet” you claim a Riesling or any other wine is – it’s not syrupy enough for me.  I’m not drinking any wine now though because I have officially given up all beverages except water for the duration of Lent-time.  That means no lattes – no mini-bottles of Moscato or salt-rimmed glasses of margarita – no hot sugar with tea – no fizz of a diet beverage – will be passing my lips until Easter morning.  The caffeine headache in my brain is lamenting that this was a biiiiig mistake, but strong I will remain.

5. I love flossing my teeth.  You had no idea I was such a fun person, right?  But there is really nothing quite like some mint flavored dental floss to bring a smile to my face.  It just feels so…clean.

Tell me something I don’t know about you. 

Tuning in.

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^^ Flo and Claire Underwood, circa 2014.

I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, I’m pretty committed to a routine.  Here are a few things that I (and Kevin) have been watching recently and a few shows that I’m excited about.

On Mondays we watch Fashion Police.  And then Better Call Saul.  Kevin is a good sport and sits through Fashion Police with me.  He laughs at the inappropriate comments and doesn’t hate the hour too much.  FP is immediately followed by Better Call Saul, a spinoff from Breaking Bad (which we loved).  So far, three episodes in, we’re enjoying it!  It’s not as heavy as Breaking Bad, for which I’m grateful.

We catch the new Big Bang Theory each Thursday and watch reruns of the show whenever we can.  Reruns of Friends and The Office are also a pretty regular occurrence.

I’m excited to welcome a second Kevin back into our lives soon – Kevin Spacey, that is.  House of Cards is back in late February and I. can’t. wait.  What political games can we expect in Season 3?

Mad Men – the end of an era, as the kids are saying – comes back for the second half of its seventh season on Easter.  No one at AMC asked me, but I was and still am very opposed to the split they did for that final season.  Breaking Bad could get away with that – Mad Men…not so much.  It just didn’t have the momentum to keep me excited for months, waiting for the second half of the season.  I must say – I’m ready for Mad Men to end.  I’ve enjoyed the show, but it’s time for some Don Draper resolution.

I am excited to start Parenthood, now that it’s over.  Don’t worry – I’ll keep a box of tissue close.  I’ve heard every episode is a tearjerker.

Another show I’m excited to dive into is Downton Abbey as well.  With any luck, I’ll immerse myself and emerge with a British accent.

What are you watching?  Any shows you’re excited for this spring? 

A sweetheart sweekend.

I have decided that Valentine’s Day should always be on a Saturday.  Really – everyone wins.  It would save single people the effort of rolling their eyes at the flower/chocolate/teddy bear deliveries to the workplace and couples could spend the entire day gazing at each other in adoration.

My Valentine’s day was dreamy.  Kevin had arranged for some lovely flowers to be delivered to me at work on Friday (if Valentine’s Day is permanently moved to a Saturday, I’ll make him promise to not send flowers).  Fresh, bright flowers bring springtime to any month, don’t you think?

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The weekend started with a #Galentine pedicure date.  I met Shawna and we caught up on all the happenings.  Nothing quite like going into a weekend with chat and pretty toes.

On Saturday morning, we read and relaxed at home.  A hot air balloon landed one street over – practically in our backyard.  Random, but interesting.

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^^ Photos shot from my seat in the breakfast nook.  #onlyinnewmexico

We went to Whole Foods for provisions.  Everyone else in the city was there too.  I guess a lot of people settled on eating in to celebrate the day of love.

That afternoon we went for a bike ride along the Bosque.  It was Fantasia’s inaugural ride in the company of her boyfriend, Kevin’s nameless bike.  My butt started to hurt after about 7 miles, so I turned around and totaled around 14 miles for the ride.  Kevin rode a bit further and did around 16 miles.  I didn’t fall off the bike or crash into anything, so I’d say it was a successful adventure.  The weather was over 60 degrees F and absolutely perfect.

Showered fresh and so clean so clean, we went for coffee at a cute local place.  They have lots of fancy latte options, so I scored myself an Almond Joy specialty and Kevin tried their daily brew.  We’ll definitely go back for more!

Home and caffeinated, we read for a bit and then started dinner.  On our first Valentine’s Day together (2011), I told Kevin that I wanted to stay in for the holiday.  He went above and beyond and prepared chicken parmesan for us.  That locked it in – our V-day tradition is to be home with each other and the cats and some delicious chicken parm and Moscato.  His chicken parmesan not only rivals but surpasses any that you’d find in a restaurant and he always makes me pasta with pesto too, which you know I love.

IMG_9489^^ Dinner.  Before.

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My task was Caprese salad, deconstructed.

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Rue kept her feather toy (the little scamp) under control. IMG_9496

Kiki supervised.  Tough job for a brindle cat. IMG_9108

And the dinner came together beautifully.

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It was such a perfect meal, with my perfect guy.

We watched The Hobbit after dinner, pausing the film briefly to indulge in some chocolate covered strawberries.

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On Sunday morning we met some friends at Gravy – the first new restaurant that K and I have tried this year!  We tend to get into ruts when it comes to eating out, and if Gravy becomes a rut, you won’t hear me complain.  It was so delicious.  Kevin had the breakfast sandwich (description below), I had the breakfast burrito, and our friends had 2 eggs any style and the specialty pancake flight, which was completely and utterly decadent.

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 Kevin had to work a lot on Sunday and I ran errands.  We had dinner at his parents’ house, as per the usual Sunday night tradition, and that was the weekend.  Any time I get to spend with Kevin is time well spent, and the weekend included a lot of that.  So sweetheart sweekend indeed.

Do you like Valentine’s Day?  How did you spend your weekend? 

Schooled by cats.

Alternate title:  why you should marry a man who has cats. 

Kevin adopted Kiki when she was around 5 months old and he was 19 (years, not months).  He adopted Flo five months after that, and she was around the same age as Kiki, making both of them a little less than a year old and Kevin still a young, strapping college guy of 19.  Years later, they all met me, and I’m convinced that if either Kiki or Flo hadn’t liked me, I would have been on the receiving end of an, “It’s not me, it’s you…,” talk.

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Kiki has always been a little angel.  Using her claws she would shimmy up window and door screens, but that was really her sole act of rebellion and it was more cute than troublesome.

Sweet young Florence on the other hand….  She had a wild streak longer than her slender little body.  She would maneuver her way into attics and escape into the great outdoors at any opportunity.  Once she even crawled up under the hood of Kevin’s truck, unbeknownst to him of course, and when he turned the key, a little white ball of fur went flying across the driveway.  She was a greasy, dusty mess, but fortunately, unharmed.

With that introduction to their personalities, here are a few lessons those cats taught Kevin – to my benefit.

Lesson 1:  Do not, under any circumstances, leave clothes – dirty or clean – lying around on the floor. 
Flo taught this lesson single-bladder’edly.  She mistook his clothes for her litter box once or twice, and that college guy learned – clothes go on a hanger, in a drawer, or in the hamper.

Lesson 2:  When the toilet is unoccupied, the seat and lid need to be down.
I imagine that a man with dogs learns this lesson as well.  Pets + an available mini-pool of water = a mess.

Lesson 3:  Put some work into developing and keeping a relationship.
When you first meet a cat, it doesn’t just run up and stick its nose in your crotch.  Oh no – cats need to be wined and dined (on wet food and treats) with patience and soft, pretty words.  Their affection must be earned.  And even after you have won their love and trust, you have to keep up the effort.  {For example, we beg Kiki to come sit on our laps after dinner each night.  Sometimes she graces us with her presence – such a treat! – and other times she plays hard to get – an independent cat, sitting three feet away from us, simply because she can.}  Any human conquest reaps the benefits of a man who has learned this lesson – Kevin spoiled me rotten in the beginning and continues to do so today.

Lesson 4:  Speaking of independence, cat owners humans (cats aren’t owned) have learned to appreciate independence – for themselves and in a partner. 
Cats don’t need to be taken outside multiple times a day.  They don’t need to go on walks or burn off a certain amount of energy to prevent them from chewing up the couch cushions.  You can dump some food in a self feeder, make sure their litter box is clean, fill up a few Eskimo Joe cups with water, and go on your merry way for a long weekend out of town.  They may give you the silent treatment when you get home but it’s nothing a few treats can’t fix.  A man who has learned this lesson appreciates an independent gal – and vice versa.

Lesson 5:  Stay calm in the face of an emergency.
Flo was the original instructor in the Pet Emergency 101 course (see above:  attics, outdoors, truck engines).  Since her passing, there was a vacancy.  However, the position has now been filled by little Rue.  For her first class, she decided to start things off with a bang and take a shortcut through the narrow railings around the staircase.  As her plump little belly casually hovered ten feet off the ground, Kevin kept his cool and snatched her up like a hero.

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What lessons have you or your significant other learned from pets?  Are you more into cats or dogs (or cows or hamsters or bunnies or…etc.)? 

My top 5 favorite books of all time.

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Not mentioned below because it should go without saying – the Harry Potter series is my favorite.  All seven of them but especially the last two.

Honorable Mention to Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  Simply finishing this book fluffed my feathers like a proud peacock.  It took me a good six months to get through it, because I would read other things simultaneously and because it is so long.  1400+ pages?  But the story is completely and utterly beautiful.  I remember finishing it and sitting in silence for a good five minutes, tears streaming down my face.  If that’s not a rave review, I don’t know what is.

5. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi.  I first read this book when I was around 13 years old.  It has a very strong female protagonist which is something I crave in a novel.  This book delivers on all the best levels, with murder on the high sea and an unwavering theme of resilience and strength – physically and of character.

4. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.  One of the few books that I have reread multiple times and every time, I love it even more.  There’s just the right amount of magic and romance and another strong female character at the helm.  I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t want to.  The book stands alone.

3. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.  So quotable and so timeless – Anne’s fanciful language and Marilla’s matter-of-fact nature and Matthew’s sweet, quiet disposition.  I really love how Anne changes and matures gradually through the course of the book.  You turn to the last page and blink in surprise because somewhere along the way, Anne grew up.

2. The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy.  All of Maeve Binchy’s books (that I’ve read at least) take place predominately in Ireland, so the landscape is beautifully drawn in my mind as I read her descriptions.  And her talent for character development – so strong.  The characters become three dimensional.  Without giving away too much, I love how the two female leads in this story persevere through difficult personal circumstances.

1. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.  In my opinion (that’s what you’re here for, right?), this book is not nearly as famous as it should be.  Show of hands, who has even heard of it?  If you have and you’ve read it and you liked it, well, we’re meant to be bosom friends.  You’re the Anne to my Diana.  No joke.  When my friend Leann and I discovered that this one is a favorite for us both, an unbreakable bond was formed.  But back to the book.  It unfolds on a backdrop of nitty-gritty glamour – Manhattan in the late 1930’s – and has drama and strength and romance and humor and the. best. writing.

Tell me about your all time favorite book(s).  Do you reread books?

Linking up with Miriam today!