Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Grandma's Noodles

Everyone remembers my Grandma's noodles.  I don't know if it's an Indiana thing, or a Midwest thing, but she always made egg noodles from scratch.  They were a staple every holiday.

This year, I decided to make my own.  I even hunted down the elusive Milnot milk to make them, which is apparently THE key ingredient.  I also discovered that Grandma's "recipe" was essentially all over the internet, and that it was truly simple as could be:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • Half-eggshell of Milnot (for real!)

You mix all that up (I found it was best to use my food processor, though I also did it with my stand mixer and dough hook.. hence the different photos), let the dough stand about 15 minutes, then roll out the noodles thin with tons of flour.  Cut them how you like them.  I learned that when cooked, the noodles definitely grow significantly in size, so I plan to make mine thinner and skinnier next time.

You can let them dry out and freeze them (use lots of flour!), or cook right away.  You toss them into boiling chicken broth and cook them, then you serve them over turkey, mashed potatoes, you name it.  I think I made like 4-5 batches of the recipe in the end, filling about 3 1/2 quart ziplocs in the freezer.  We found that one baggie fed five hungry adults, plus seconds/leftovers.

Simmering noodles

Grandma made so many they were all over the tables and counters drying...  then she froze them, sometimes handing out baggies to us as gifts.  My hope is that now that I know my noodles taste like Grandma's, I can learn to make them in mass to have them at an even bigger family gathering in 2015.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Budgeting Bloggers: December 2014

I was a bit out of control with impulse shopping in December, but I ended up returning most things.  In fact, by Christmas I was over $100 *under* budget in spite of myself.  Honestly it's because I was caught up in buying gifts for other people!  I got a ton of stuff for Christmas via gifts, and a bunch of basics, so I must admit it was a great haul this month.

In terms of sales, I sent another bag to thredUP, and I've decided it will be my last.  I sent 8 tops and 1 pair of shoes that yielded only $22 (that's less than $3/item) and a dress they have on consignment for a MAX payout of under $12.  I just don't see the point in waiting for weeks to hear back from them with a payout number, then even more time to cash out, on top of not getting what I could probably make selling on my own via Poshmark.  I also had a Poshmark sale that rounded out my "sold" number for this month.  I'm even hosting my first Poshmark Party on January 1st, so be sure to look it up!

  1. Hearts & Roses London Red & White Dress (originally $80, paid $30 via Zulily):  Insane Zulily sale on H&R London equals impulse buy dress... with no idea as to whether I'd love it or not.  This one was a sassy red, and I really like it!  I just have to figure out how to style it and not look too loud.  It'll be great come summer, or maybe with a white cardigan.
  2. kate spade Branton Square Small Stacy Wallet (originally $98, paid $49):  Cure you, Kate Spade surprise sales!  I was tasked to buy a purse for my Mom, and we found the perfect one in the Surprise Sale... and of course I ended up with something for myself.  The brown/black is perfect for my Madewell tote, and I always use tiny wallet that transfer easily to smaller bags on-the-go.  My one complaint is that the card slots take some breaking in!
  3. Fabletics Workout Outfit (FREE, with credit):  This retro sweatshirt and basic capris filled a hole in my pretty awesome workout wardrobe; even Dan loved this one.  I'm not sure if I will continue purchasing via Fabletics now that my collection is fairly complete, but I will make sure to spend my credits.
  4. Catherine Malandrino Cuffed Ponte Blazers in Black, Red, & Green (similar, $15 each via Sam's Club):  I tore my Forever 21 black ponte blazer and had to pitch it; I literally wore it to shreds.  The first black blazer I bought at Sam's was my replacement effort, for an amazing steal price... so I let my Mom know that if she saw it in other colors at her local store in my size, I'd be interested in other colors to wear to work!  She was successful, and I had her pick me up a couple more. I wear these to work to look business casual, because they're very comfortable and look sharp.

$124 spent - $40 sold = $84 total
$82 savings

Quarterly Budget: $400 - $176 October - $61 November - $84 December$109 below budget

Here are the items that were gifted to me this month, as the people around me are wonderful and lovely and fed this monster lots of goodies for Christmas.

(not pictured)
  • Catherine Malandrino Cuffed Ponte Blazer in Grey (Mom got me ONE MORE!)  from Mom & Dad
  • C9 by Champion® Women's Running Knee Legging from Mom & Dad
  • Fleece-lined black leggings from Mom & Dad
  • Striped blue & black dress from Mom & Dad
  • Indiana University beanie and sweatshirt from Mom & Dad

I've also decided that in 2015, I'm not going to have an actual budget set by month or quarter.  I know, scary thought, but I'm still going to be posting here each month to stay accountable and under some semblance of control.  I feel like these past couple of years in Budgeting Bloggers have taught me to be more conscious of the things I add to my closet, and it's definitely something I want to continue... I just don't know how that looks from year to year!

Check out the rest of this month's Budget Bloggers at the linkup at Franish!

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Santa Hustle Half Marathon Recap (Indianapolis)

During my visit to Indiana, I completed my 4th half marathon, my last before the Disney Marathon in January.  I registered for the Santa Hustle in Indianapolis, to ensure I got a good long run during my time at home.

The weather was cold, but the mood was festive, it was pretty cool to see people dressed as Santa and elves running all in a big group.  The wind and cold definitely impacted me on the run; the first 7 miles felt great (I was on PR pace!) then I hit a bit of a wall as the course got a little hillier and less interesting.  Blah.   But I still managed to squeeze out my best half marathon time anyways!

There was a particularly awesome sign along the way that I loved... RYAN GOSLING!

There were also M&Ms and cookies along the way that were good energy stops.  I didn't eat candy, but towards the end I did eat a cookie to keep myself going.  I learned that I can run and eat a cookie at the same time!  LOL

I'd say the best part was having Mom & Dad there to support me.  It was a nice training run, and I loved the sweatshirt I got from it.  Now I'm a nervous wreck thinking about doubling the distance for Disney!

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Favorites, v.6

I have a lot of draft posts in the works, but this week I decided to focus on two things: family and homework!  I was able to spend the Christmas holiday (and my Dad's birthday, Christmas Eve) in Indiana with my family.  Sissy and her boyfriend joined us from Arizona.  It was a great time overall... so I haven't posted since last Friday's Favorites.  Hope you had some R&R too!

EXCITEMENT: Dan and I just booked our dream trip for 2015: Peru!  Machu Picchu has always been a big bucket list item for both of us, and now I can't get enough of reading about and looking at photos of our destination!

This cat is me, doing yoga.

Pretty sure I discovered this artist via Kaelah, but I seriously NEED one of their pieces
someday for my kitchen.  Because I make all the baked goods, right?

My cats run to the door when we get home from work... but this dog's happy dance upon hearing his owner coming is just to die for!

I want to make these Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potatoes in my cast iron skillet.  Have I already posted this recipe link here?  Who cares, it's here again, with photo.  Because I love breakfast foods.

+  If this girl was left off the family Christmas cards simply because she's the only unmarried sibling, her parents should be smacked.  But then we might not have her hilarious single Christmas cards to enjoy.

+  So the Sony hack revealed that for the movie American Hustle, Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams, who in my opinion both Jeremy Renner in that movie, were supposedly to be paid less.  Um, if the wage gap impacts JLaw, the rest of us ladies may be royally screwed.

+  JK Rowling wrote a bit on Draco Malfoy on Pottermore and I love it!  It's nice to hear from the author more of the backstory (or story in between the books and epilogue, in this case) and Draco is definitely a character that I disliked but pitied.

+  I am absolutely TERRIFIED that my attempt at the Disney Marathon is in about two weeks.  I think I'm stinking mad for signing up, even though I've done three half marathons since then and haven't run this much in years.  In fact, I never used to run more than 7-8 miles at a time, even in my college running days.  ANYWAYS, this blog's Disney Running 101 page is awesome, and I keep coming back to it.

+Flashback Favorite:  Here's our Christmas Card from last year, since I shared 2012's a week ago!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Favorites v.5

Happy Friday!  I may or may not keep up my regular posting schedule in the next week as I am taking time off for the holidays...  but here are a few favorites to tide you over until then!

These Green Army men in yoga poses, Yoga Joes by Brogamats

"Ear jacket" earrings like these from Baublebar...  I think they're awesome!

This piglet's adorable yawning!

I have had a crush on James Corden since I saw him on Doctor Who...
Then when I got to see Into the Woods at an early screening this week, I love him even more!
The movie is visually stunning, and everyone in it sings well.
(Rant: I love musicals and their movie versions, but I am still unhappy about Pierce Brosnan for Mamma Mia
and Russell Crowe for Les Miserables because, let's be honest.... no.)

This dog's prosthetics that help him RUN!

I'm looking into passport wallets for our trip this spring.  Love these from Etsy!
Passport Wallet // Passport Holder for Two

+  I'm half-Korean, half-white.. and so I loved this article about being "hapa" that my cousin shared on Facebook.

+  Modcloth has such great print dresses, which are appropriate for work to boot!  Cats! // Houndstooth! // Damask!

+  My friend Jenna makes the most BEAUTIFUL books.  You've got to see them to believe them.

+  I think it's so interesting people how people are wanting to learn more about J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, and that she keeps feeding us more info.  Love that she confirmed there were LGBT students at Hogwarts, saying, "Of course."

+  Flashback Favorite: My first Christmas card with Dan, in 2012, with our old girl Cally.  I rewore the sweater yesterday for a work holiday party.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Dickens of a Christmas 2014

After taking over the Heritage Foundation's Instagram during Pumpkinfest this year, I was asked to come back to cover the 30th annual Dickens of a Christmas weekend.  I've missed this festival in the past, so I was excited to finally experience the magic.  (Note: I jokingly call the town either Mayberry or Stars Hollow, because there are adorable events and festivals and it is just delightfully pleasant to live here!)

Me and my friend KD
Dickens of a Christmas is a free public street festival, predicted to bring in around 50,000 visitors over the weekend.  It is produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County and Downtown Franklin Association.  Hundreds of volunteers participate as characters from the era and stories of Dickens.
Here are some of my favorite snapshots that I took for the Heritage Foundation.  You should definitely visit Franklin during a festival weekend sometime!

Disclosure:  I was a social media volunteer for the Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization, and I did not request compensation for my service.  After committing to the event, I was invited to a movie screening put on by one of the festival's sponsors, as a surprise gift!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Favorites v.4

This shirt is actually covered entirely from the text of Jane Eyre. YES.

I cried at work watching this proposal!  Such a perfectly planned surprise!
I'm surprised I'd never seen it before, as I love proposal vids.

Can you believe this is the same guy, but using coverup?
Watch the video proof!  It's from 2011 but I hadn't seen it.

Little Benji the pygmy goat kid just makes me SQUEE.
He won't stay that little for long, but aren't his little jumps and kicks adorable?

Kittens.  In sweaters!

My two new favorite potions...
This detox shampoo has an amazing mint smell and tingle. I don't even need conditioner anymore!
This moisturizing creme was $8 at Sam's Club and goes on my face (and elbows, knees, etc.)
every night so I wake up with baby-soft skin!

+ We love Pixar movies, and this trailer for Inside Out looks great!

+  This Afghanistan vet was reunited with his beloved dog that his ex surrendered while he was away.  It makes me angry it happened, but reading about the dog's reaction is priceless and heartwarming.

+  I was a long-distance runner, so reading (and watching video) about Kayla Montgomery's running career with multiple sclerosis gave me chills.  The dedication of this girl, her family, and her coach is inspiring.  I'm lucky to have had great coaches in my life!

+I saw this via Kaelah's blog and I LOVED IT.  Mindy Kaling, be my bestie. 33 Times Mindy Kaling Was The Queen Of 2014.

+ Sabrina Benaim's poetry speaks to me!  Love her!  One of her poems has been on Upworthy, "Explaining My Depression to My Mother", but you have to check out more than one.  :::poetry slam snaps:::

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Target Threshold Bar Cart "Hack"

I've had a longtime crush on the Sedgewick bar cart from Society Social, but its $700 price tag was not something I could justify spending at this point.  Then my friend C tipped me off that there was a Threshold gold bar cart at Target on sale that could be the perfect match for me... and I snagged it for $100!  It came in one piece, no assembly required.

The Sole Society Cart //  My Threshold Bar Cart

The downside to the Target bar cart was the lack of storage for stemware and wine, which helps make use of some of the vertical space between the top and bottom shelves.  I found a stemware holder ($25) and wine bottle holder ($15) on Amazon made to go under kitchen cabinets, and I got a can of gold spray paint ($5) to make them match the cart.  You can buy the holders in other colors, but I chose whatever color was cheapest and qualified for Amazon Prime, which in this case was brass and a dark bronze.  Dan painted the pieces for me., and it turned out to be a great match!

After the paint dried, he screwed the pieces into the cart, under the top shelf.   I am not worried about the stemware holding up, but I do want to be sure the two wine bottles don't overstress the shelf; I put two of my cheaper bottles in to test the strength.  I will report back if I have any lasting concerns, but so far it looks pretty good!  I needed that extra space to store glassware in my apartment.

I haven't had time to style/stock the cart yet, but I'm getting excited at the prospect.  I will have to share the results when I do.  But all in all, I'm very happy with how my $145 investment in a bar cart turned out, especially compared to the $700 price tag on the inspiration.  Maybe someday I'll upgrade, but for now I'm proud of this little "hack" of sorts!

Update (8/16/2015):  No issues with the bar cart to date!  Here's a peek at how it looks today.  The wine bottles have been there ever since, so no issues if you install the hardware well!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bourbon Bread Pudding

I know what you're thinking.  Aubrey's on a baking-with-bourbon kick.  But the truth is, it's the season of potlucks and big family meals.  Since I've been eating bread pudding pretty much whenever I see it on a dessert menu, I decided to try my hand at making it at home... with the help of my Back in the Day Bakery cookbook of course, because it doesn't let me down.

The best part about the internet is, when I was wondering if I could make ahead the recipe for a work potluck, I was able to tweet to the bakery and get a response!  Thursday night work yields Friday evening bread pudding, y'all.

Cutting up the bread was the most labor-intensive part; I used ciabatta because that's what the bakery uses.  I think next time I might cut smaller pieces (I did 2-inch pieces like the recipe recommended) because I wanted the liquid to come over the top of the pieces.  It was kind of fun making the custard and glaze to pour over the top.  I omitted the raisins (most of the people I was baking for don't like them) and I sprinkled cinnamon sugar over the top after baking.

When I refrigerated the pudding, the bread soaked up all the liquid, so it had me worried.  But in the end, it baked up just find and was perfectly moist!  I recommend serving it warm.  The recipe is for a 13x9 dish, which ended up being too big for the small party I was attending... so this is best served for a huge group!  I also wonder if it could be done in a muffin pan, so you could make little individual bread puddings to serve at a fancier meal.

This recipe was tasty; I'd make it again for a big group, maybe even for a brunch vs. a dinner.

Happy baking!

Bourbon Bread Pudding: Get the recipe!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Favorites v.3

I also want a doughnut brooch from her shop.

Modcloth's quirky & nerdy holiday tops!

I've watched Alice Ivy Art grow up IRL, and I've also watched her cosplay transform over time.
I love this take on Ariel that she MADE herself!  I'm in awe! She's a real pro.

This GIF from #myfriendsaremarried Tumblr, which I follow daily.
I like it sarcastically.

These city skyline and state necklaces are beautiful!  Discovered on Etsy, made by Christina in PA.

+  What if guys acted like girls on Instagram?  OMG, this is image series is LOL funny.  And sadly pretty accurate.

+  Three quarters of whites don't have any non-white friends.  When you think about the racism that came to the forefront in recent news (yup, it still exists) it also makes you wonder why it persists.  This could be part of it; in general, we have segregated social circles.

+  What happens when you tape bread to a GoPro and a squirrel steals it.

+  Girl Scout cookie sales will be going online... Yeah, yeah, just take my money already.

+  Does gender play a role in the type of feedback an employee receives at review time?  This article found women’s reviews are more likely to include critical feedback vs. men's.  As a woman in business, it's kind of worrisome!

Flashback Favorite:  In early December 2011, I was in HAWAII!  Check out these posts from Oahu and Maui.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Bourbon-Pecan Pie à la Back in the Day Bakery

As I shared in my Brown Sugar Banana Bread post, I love Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah.  When I saw a beautiful magazine spread with a Bourbon-Pecan Pie in my November issue of Food + Wine, I practically drooled on the page.  I was excited when I saw that the recipe came from Cheryl Day, and even more so when I realized I also had a nearly identical recipe in my cupboard via their cookbook.  BUY THIS BOOK.  It is my Southern baking BIBLE.

The finished product... I was so proud!

I had a pre-made frozen crust in the freezer (don't judge, outsourcing is nothing to be ashamed of when you're a busy person!) so this seemed like the perfect dessert to bring home to my parents for Thanksgiving.  Overall, the recipe is suuuuper simple.  That is, if you can read...  I accidentally put in 1/4 cup of sugar, not 1/2 cup, so I prayed it would turn out alright; pecan pies are very sweet after all!

And it looks stunning when it comes out of the oven!  I think the pecans just give it the most beautiful look, and it looks more complicated than it is.  I used mini chocolate chips so that there wouldn't be large chocolate chunks in each bite, just subtle chocolate flavor in addition to pecans.

The missing sugar didn't make any impact at all in the end!  This pie was sooooo rich...  the chocolate actually helped cut the gooey sweetness of the overall pie.  It was very tasty, and I was happy with the result.  This pie is so beginner-friendly, I don't know why anyone would get a pre-made pie or pre-made filling.  You just have to mentally get past the huge amount of corn syrup and sugar.
I also loved that they had the pie placed on a cookie sheet; I am going to do this with all my pies now, because it keeps me from sloshing pie filling over the edge of the crust.  I get a much better overall grip on the pie.

Cheryl and Griffith Day are treasures, and you need to 1) visit their bakery, and 2) buy their book!
Get the Recipe:  Bourbon-Pecan Pie

Aubrey's Notes:
  • Used 1/4 cup granulated sugar instead of 1/2 cup, by accident
  • Subbed kosher salt for fine sea salt (had it on-hand)
  • Chose Jim Beam for bourbon
  • Subbed vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract
  • Chose mini semisweet chocolate chips instead of regular size

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Dan and I spent the long weekend over Thanksgiving in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana.  It's not too far to drive up for a little getaway, and we really enjoyed our trip.  Fun fact, Lil Bub is from my hometown, and I used the visit as an excuse to snap a photo with her beautiful mural by the artist VEKS.

Dan and I headed north on Thanksgiving Day, in time to eat  dinner with my parents.  We actually ate a bit early, because my Mom wanted to drag me to Kohl's for their 6pm doorbuster deals... it was madness!

Mom's Thanksgiving Feast

Afterwards, we met up with Dad and Dan to see Interstellar.  Dan and I really liked the movie, though it was almost three hours long.  The cast was great, and it really kind of blew my mind in a good way... though it was a little hard for me to believe Matthew McConaughey as a brilliant NASA engineer/pilot.

On Friday, I met an old friend for coffee and picked up some Indiana University gear at the Indiana Shop.  Dan and I then hit up Function Brewing to check out their craft beers.  The samplers we got were awesome!  The Cherry Ratio Golden Ale was my favorite.  It's just off the square downtown.  We then met up with my parents for dinner at Taste of India before heading with Dad to the IU basketball game.

On Saturday, we tailgated and went to the IU vs. Purdue football game, the big rivalry game of the year.  It got chillier towards the end, and the gameplay was sloppy, but it was great to see the win!  I love going to the games now that I'm officially an IU student; it just gives me a renewed pride in being a Hoosier in more ways than one.

We headed south after the game to eat dinner with our extended family, which was soooooo amazing as usual.  There are many great cooks in our family, and I got to see my cousins and their babies which is my favorite.  We left on Sunday after Dad cooked breakfast for us... yum!

I loved our visit to Indiana.  It's so nice to spend time with family and enjoy a hometown that I never fully appreciated until I left.

How did your Thanksgiving Weekend go?

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