I find myself reading very few 'Best Of' lists this year. I don't know why. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic for last year when I got to put 'I was on MTV' on my own 'best of' list. Ah, 2010. The glory days.

For real though, 2011 was a weird, roller coaster year. Call it growing pains. Being 24 is not easy. I struggled with my living situation, my relationships, and keeping the balance between work and life.

That being said, I'm trying to look on the bright side. Diablo Cody once wrote that the year was like a Sham-Wow - prone to occasional suckage, but mostly bright. 2011 was kinda like that.
  • I watched the Cards win a World Series, and getting my picture taken with a few of the players
  • I went on an amazing trip to Colorado
  • I found Pinterest
  • I started to do outfit photos
  • My mom got a new puppy
  • I watched some great friends walk down the aisle
  • I saw my Dad fly a helicopter
  • I spent many a weekend at the lake
  • I had an amazing summer in St. Louis
  • I went on my first grown-up fishing and camping trips
  • I joined the board of directors of the Lindbergh Schools Foundation
  • I visited with my best friends when they came in town to visit (now I just need to repay the favor!)
  • We moved in to a new office. However, I have a feeling that no matter where I was working from, coming to work at Atomicdust everyday would be an amazing privilege. 
  • I went on a 'work' trip to Baltimore
  • The boy and I enjoyed planty of impromptu winery trips, movie dates and fancy dinners. 
I'm ready for 2012. Bring it. 


Holiday Hangover

Sorry I've been MIA. We're off all week and my big plans of reading, writing and 2012 planning turned int me laying in bed, watching The Wire. All. Day. Long. Oops.

If you must know (I must! I must!), I had a very happy holiday. My whole family was in town, plus the boy's whole family, so it was a crazy week of family gatherings and lots of lunch/dinner dates. And presents, lots of presents. I got boots, a winter coat, loads of new socks, a blender, a couple books and so much more.... I'm pretty sure it was everything I asked for and more.

Now, I'm in Rome/Morocco planning/packing/freak out mode. Eeks.


Twas the Week Before Christmas...

{shuffleboard rules at my work office party]
{red and green swirl cupcakes}
{that moment when you realize you won't be able to tell any of your presents apart}
{a 'to do' list for my 'break'}
{running on doubles this week}

I Must Learn...

"I must learn: There doesn’t have to be a word for everything, you don’t have to talk so much, think so much, carry so much, care so much, reveal so much. I must learn: Take small bites, pause, breathe, savor."


Hey Universe

sweater and jeans from Target. necklace from Spike the Punch. boots by Chinese Laundry.

I think the universe is out of whack.

Not only is it 60 degrees and rainy... in December... in St. Louis, but I took forever getting ready this morning because I was distracted by the Today Show's announcement of Time's Person of the Year and story on Ugly Holiday Sweaters; I think I need new tires because my car was skidding all over the road this morning; I accidentally took an almost two-hour lunch today, where I got egg yolk on my red jeans; and I'm wishing it was about 10am instead of 5pm because I still have so much work to do before today, and this week is over.

Seriously, universe. Go back to normal.


Be Awesome.

"People always say, “Be humble, be humble, be humble.” When’s the last time somebody told you, “Be great, be amazing, be awesome?” Be awesome. BE AWESOME."
— Kanye West - Watch The Throne Tour, December 12, 2011 - Staples Center
via Gabi


At Least One Of Us Is Ready

I'm so not ready for Christmas already.... Sure, I have most of my presents all bought and/or shipping. I've got all the bags/wrapping paper I need. I moved my annual holiday party to my parents' house so I don't have to clean or put up decorations (don't judge me). But the fact that the holidays are just about 10 days away? And then New Year's the week after that? And then Rome and Morocco the week after that?



Home Improvement

black jeans from Target. jacket from Ann Taylor. boots by Steve Madden. scarf by Van Heusen.

The last two weekends have been filled with cleaning and moving... and cleaning again. Pictures to come, but I moved my 'TV room' up from my basement into my formerly-vacant front room; rearranged the furniture in my room; got a new shower curtain, rug and accessories for my bathroom; and framed a whole bunch of pictures (notice I did not say 'hang a whole bunch of pictures'). Needless to say, I'm exhausted.

Which is why I'm totally Grinch-ing it and not putting up Christmas decorations this year. Oops.


I went to the Bob Seger concert on Friday. The boy is a big, big fan. And now... so am I.


Looking Forward to the Weekend

dress, belt and tights from Target. cardigan from Old Navy. boots by Chinese Laundry. 

Things I'm looking forward to this weekend....
  • Bob Seger concert tonight with the boy!
  • laying on my couch in my 75 degree apartment (yey for a fixed furnace! note the furnace filters in the photo above...)
  • a little home improvement - buying (and hanging) frames, a new shower curtain & a bath rug, kitchen rugs and area rug for the TV room 
  • all so that I can out up Christmas decorations! I can't wait. 
Happy Friday, folks. 


I Had A Nervous Breakdown


black sweater from Gap. jeans from Target. boots by Steve Madden. scarf from Weathervane (RIP. I loved that store.)

Last night, I had a nervous breakdown inside a Walmart. 

I went there for a rug and to get fixings for dinner. They didn't have the rug I was looking for, nor did they have the fixings I needed for dinner. I filled my cart with things I didn't necessarily need or want. I tried thinking of other things I could make for dinner out of their severely limited grocery selection. I abandoned my cart about four times, intending to leave, before I finally parked it in the sock aisle and high-tailed it outta there. (Apologies to the poor worker who had to return all my items to their correct shelves all over the store...).

I'm not sure what happened. I've been second guessing a lot of decisions lately and I think that it really got to me. I didn't know what I wanted. I didn't know if the things I wanted were really worth it. I didn't know if I was even in the position to be saying I wanted certain things. (Is there a term for the equivalent of 'vague-booking' on a blog? 'Vague-blogging?')

And now that I'm thinking of it.... I might need to rethink how I categorize things on the blog. Turns out, pretty much every one of my posts is becoming a random rant.


This Weekend

denim shirt by Miley for Walmart. black jeans from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. messy hair courtesy a windy morning on the porch...
  • I hung out with friends at Pour House
  • I saw the Muppets with my parents
  • I shopped at STL Style and All Along Press for the Cherokee Street Print League Holiday Sale
  • I had beer biscuits and gravy at Benton Park Cafe
  • I played too many rounds of catchphrase
  • I moved my 'TV room' from the basement up to my front room
  • I drank coffee while the boy napped
  • I enjoyed a delicious three-course meal (and bottle of wine) at The Block
and I'd like to go back. Weekends just aren't long enough sometimes.

Sunday Dinner at The Block

Important question: How long has The Block been open? And why on earth didn't anyone tell me about it?!

The Block is a new(ish?) establishment in Webster Groves that has a unique twist - it's a restaurant and butcher shop. And it's gooooooood
We were starved, so what started off as a quick dinner before Sunday night TV started turned into a three-course meal and a bottle of wine. For starters, we had the potted pig appetizer. Pork confit + cranberry and apple chutney + bread + pickled veggies. Oh lord. So good. 
Our entrees were heavy on the meat (of course). He had the chef's cut beef (which was a ribeye) with garlic herb fries, and I had the pork chop with sweet potato + bacon hash and braised greens. 
You'd think we'd be stuffed, right? Of course we were. But we couldn't resist the bread pudding. Banana + walnut + chocolate and a little dollop of vanilla ice cream? How can you say no to that?
And I just have to add - I had read a few Yelp review before I went and people seemed to be blasting the beer menu, saying it was too short. I actually think it's pretty decent - maybe eight or so of the typical brews (Bud Light, Sam Adams, etc.) and eight or so local breweries. And a lot of people failed to mention that they have a pretty extensive wine list. Maybe the 'bar and butcher' part of the name throws people off to thinking this is more of a pub atmosphere. It's not. It's fine dining. I love beer.... but I most certainly enjoyed a glass of red wine with my pork chop.

Meat lover? Go to The Block. Thank me later. 

New City Ordinance

black top from New York & Company. black cardigan, olive jeans from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. earrings from Apricot Lane. assorted silver bracelets. 

Text from an old friend I got Friday afternoon...
'new city ordinance: gotta get down on Friday!'
Couldn't have said it better myself. This weekend gave me some much-needed family time, friend time, house-cleaning time and (perhaps most importantly,) me time.


Today (And Some Boyfriend Praise)

white shirt is Liz Clairborne. black cardigan from Old Navy. jeans from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. necklace by Van Heusen.

He's going to hate me for this... But I have the best boyfriend.

I've been distant. I've been crabby. I've been an all-around jerk the last few days. And he's been nice to me. He watches TV with me. He makes me laugh. He plays with my dog. He makes me delicious butternut squash soup and acorn squash with brown sugary goodness and toasts the seeds so that they taste like popcorn.

How did I get so lucky?

Yesterday (And Some Deep Reflection)

dress, tights and belt from Target. cardigan from Tommy Hilfiger. boots by Chinese Laundry. necklace by Scarlett Garnet

It's been a long couple of days. On top of being busy at work, it being 30 degrees outside and the holidays approaching, a good friend of mine lost her father last weekend.

It's made me think a lot of my own life, my own family, my own faith. Her dad was young, younger than both my parents, in fact. He was healthy. He was vibrant and full of life and he was taken too soon.

This past Thanksgiving, I was searching for an excuse not to go to our annual morning football game. I really just wanted to sleep in, hang out with my dog and boyfriend and not be rushed to get ready for the day. I ended up going (because the boy told me he had been looking forward to playing) and I remember thinking about how much the game meant to my Dad. And that, God forbid, if something happened to him this year, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I had skipped out on one last football game with him just to sleep in an extra hour or two.

My friend's family plays football on Thanksgiving too. And that's the last time they'll get to play football with their Dad.


Making A List...

Big news! I finalized my Christmas list today! Making my Christmas list is one of my absolute favorite things to do in life. Maybe because I like presents. Or because I'm a control-freak. Probably both.

The list was pretty simple this year. A summary:
  • dark brown boots
  • slippers
  • (fake) black uggs
  • new winter coat with toggles
  • tribal print cardigan
  • knee high socks 
  • hiking socks
  • big gold watch
  • black and/or red scarf
  • a couple STL books
  • money for Rome/Morocco
I hope Santa brings me what I asked for ;)

sweater from Old Navy. jeans from Target. boots by Steve Madden. 


    Long Weekend

    How is it possible for a four-day weekend to fly by? The past few days have been filled with friends, family, football, and more than enough nap time. I feel recharged and ready for the holidays.... including a few DIY projects I've got my eye on before my annual holiday party in December.

    olive jeans from Target. tee and vest from Old Navy. boots by Chinese Laundry. 


    Bird's Eye View

    I'm thankful for the stretch in these white jeans... because I ate more than enough on Thursday.

    plaid top by Miley for Walmart. white jeans from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. 


    Baileys' Range

    Okay, this is beyond overdue. I've been to Range now three times. I guess you could say I'm obsessed. The burgers are awesome. The decor is cool. They have a gazillion local beers. I'm pretty sure the rooster sauce for the fries has crack in it.

    And I haven't even tried the ice cream yet.

    Five favorite things:
    1. The smells. Freshly baked buns. Roasted nuts. Ice cream. Having the kitchen right there really adds to the experience.
    2. The Morocco burger. It's one of the 'face off' items, so there's a chance it will be switched out soon. If it's on the menu when you go, try it. You'll like it. (For the record: I've also had a Basic and Dave's Smoked Burger. Both were good, but nothing close to the Morocco.)
    3. Rooster sauce for my fries. Seriously. Addicting.
    4. Mason jars. Everywhere.
    5. What's on tap. Six Row, Urban Chestnut, Schlafly, O'Fallon and six other local breweries are featured, along with one 'out of town guest.'

    (For the record though, the service sucks. I've had this same issue at Bailey's other restaurants - Rooster and Bridge. Too bad the food, drinks and atmosphere are so awesome, I continue to go back.)

    Pep Talk

    Raise your hand if you feel neglected.

    [This blog's imaginary hand is raised]

    I've barely posted and when I do, it's a short rant here and there. I've missed posting about my mom's birthday party, a surprise visit from my sister, a little camping excursion, my new boat, a party at work, Billy Elliot at the Fox and Lord knows what else.

    Well loyal reader(s), this is my promise to try harder. Sure, I'm super busy, but I'm the good kind of busy. Great job, cool stuff on weekends, a bunch of parties/get togethers coming up, and of course, the splurge of a lifetime - a trip to Rome and Morocco.  Not to mention, I now have red pants so I'm officially in the 'cool style bloggers' club'.

    There is a club, isn't there?

    jeans and scarf from Target. white tee from Express. blazer by Worthington from JC Penney. assorted silver jewelry. 


    Is It Nap Time Yet?

    Coming off a super fun weekend and having a hard time getting back in the swing of things. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I spent time with family, played with friends, stayed up too late and drank too much. And now I need a nap. 

    Tonight, I plan on eating dinner, snuggling on the couch and catching up on the Sunday TV I was too distracted to watch last night. Cheers. See you tomorrow. 


    Moves Like Bernie

    I have been waiting for this to become a dance craze! My prayers are answered.

    Double Dipping

    I wore this Sunday.... and Thursday. Is that bad? There is just nothing easier than jeans and a striped tee, boots and a bun. And I'm a sucker for easy.

    jeans and tee from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry.

    Happy Veterens Day

    Wasn't my Grandpa Joe dreamy? Love the way he signs the note to my grandma. <3


    To the Fox

    Heading to the Fox tonight with my mom to see Billy Elliot....

    That's all I have to say today.


    dress, cardigan and tights from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. gold ring, cuff and earrings. 


    Feeling French


    Désolé. Something about this new 'do makes me feel French all the time. It's the Bardot-style bangs + half-up do, I suppose. Add in skinnies, flats, an embellished boxy top and red lips and I'm a full-fledged-French-speaking gal today, oui?

    And sorry for the abundance of outfit posts (and not much else) lately. I've got a couple of pretty big posts on my 'to do' list - a letter of distaste to Taste of St. Louis, some thoughts on this year's Oktoberfest in Soulard and a review of Dave Bailey's Range in downtown St. Louis - but I just haven't had time. For now, you'll just have to enjoy looking at pictures of me. Over. And over. And over.

    Until next time, au revoir.

    black skinny jeans, top and flats from Target. assorted silver charm bracelets.


    This Weekend

    • got bangs
    • immediately regretted said bangs
    • had a date with my DVR
    • made a grocery list and clipped some coupons
    • deleted all the contacts in my phone (again)
    • dressed all fancy and went to a cocktail party
    • slept til noon, but it was really only 11am (thanks Daylight Savings time!)
    • walked to the park to watch a rugby match (and drink some Heineken)
    • maybe regretted the bangs a little less
    • had fried chicken for dinner while I watched Boardwalk Empire and Dexter. Sunday nights rule. 
    And in case you're curious about the bangs.... Not a great photo, but it's what I wore out my first night with the new 'do.
    jeans and scarf from Target. jacket from Ann Taylor. boots by Chinese Laundry. black tank from New York & Company. 


    A Forgotten Outfit

    I was uploading pics from the weekend and found this stashed away on my camera from a couple weeks ago.

    Man, I miss having cool photo locations. You think that's a reason to move back in with my parents?

    jeans, flats and striped tee from Target. jacket from Ann Taylor. 

    Bang Inspiration

    I have these pictures pinned and printed out. I'm ready for bangs.

    I think.


    Thrifted... From My Closet

    I was at my parents' house last week looking for Halloween costumes and found this sweater... in a trash bag.... in the back of my old closet. Who does it belong to? Nobody knows.

    But I took it home and washed it and claimed it as my own.

    mysterious sweater. jeans from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. gold cuff and ring. nail polish is Sew Psyched by Essie. 


    Picture Day

    We had surprise picture day at work today. Thank goodness I look halfway decent and actually straightened my hair this morning. I wonder if they can photoshop my chipped nail polish though?

    Other things I did today:
    • resolved a whole bunch of flagged emails left in my inbox
    • activated my credit card
    • scheduled a haircut
    • still felt no remorse for the Old Navy shopping spree I went on yesterday
    • listened to Christmas music way earlier than normal thanks to my new She & Him holiday CD that came in the mail yesterday
    • bought tickets to see Billy Elliot at the Fox with my mom for her birthday
    • had my first froyo experience at Flying Cow in Midtown
    • crossed a bunch of things off my to do list... and added a bunch of new things for tomorrow
    dress from Target. cardigan from Old Navy. boots by Chinese Laundry. 


    For A Living

    Never thought I'd like a silly car commercial so much (especially one that doesn't involve any Kanye playing...) but I'm just in love with this idea. 'For those who live life for a living.'


    I love all the tribal-print stuff that is coming out this fall. In fact, I've got quite a few pieces pinned to 'the list' that I hope Santa brings me. But I've got a question for you...

    Do you think it's offensive to call things tribal print? Or Navajo-inspired? 

    I remember reading a blog post once about how offensive it is equating the prints with a culture... when sometimes they aren't accurate. But what else are you supposed to call them? Is it offensive if we say things are Asian-inspired? Or African? Or what about the whole movement to dress like a French girl?

    top from Forever 21. blazer by Worthington for JC Penny. jeans and flats from Target. gold cuff, ring and earrings. polish is Geranium by Essie.

    Oh, and excuse the pile of dirty dishes. That just means I cooked.

    Apple-Stuffed French Toast with Honey Syrup

    Last night was another semi-successful dinner at Casa de Danielle. I made apple-stuffed french toast with a honey syrup (and bacon, of course)... It was super easy, I only slightly screwed it up and it actually tasted good.

    I used this recipe as inspiration for the french toast....

    • Line a rectangle or square dish with bread, top each piece with apple pie filling (or whatever filling/fresh fruit you want to use), bits of cream cheese and cinnamon and then put another piece of bread on top. 
    • Mix 6 eggs, 1 cup of milk, some vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and pour over the bread. 
    • Put in the oven (preheated to 375 degrees) for 35 minutes or until set. 
    (Just a side note: The casserole dish I was using was a little big for the four french toasts I was making, so I lined it in foil, put the french toast on top and then folded up the edges to keep the batter on the bread. Genius, right? But I didn't grease the foil at all, so the bread stuck to it, making it a total mess and ugly. Hence, no photos. Good effort.)

    And then for the honey, I found this simple recipe using water, sugar and honey over medium heat; and I added in a little extra apple pie filling and a pinch of salt. It was kind of runny, but still a nice compliment to the french toast. 

    Bon Appetit!


    Feels Like Autumn

    It's officially autumn....

    Baseball season is over. I'm wearing a cable-knit sweater. And boots. The heat is on at my house. I wore my winter coat this weekend (and not just because it's Cardinal red). And this morning it was still dark when I woke up.

    I like fall, really I do. Halloween, Thanksgiving, tailgating, cozy sweaters, Oktoberfest, pumpkin beer, fires... all great. But I'm not ready to be cold all the time and scraping ice off my car in the morning. Can we please rewind a little bit? Or at least pause before it gets any colder around here?

    jeans and sweater from Target. boots by Chinese Laundry. 

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