Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Baby...

The first year of this little 'ole blog I did a lavish Christmas Wish List. I don't ever expect to get huge things for Christmas, nor do I really need them, but it's always fun to dream right? Now with the invention of Pinterest I feel like I am constantly creating a ridiculous wish list of things I couldn't even imagine having.

So here's my 2012 edition, I sure hope that Santa becomes my newest blog follower...

1. Cash Money
Lots of it. Enough to pay off all of my student loans, my car and credit card. I won't divulge an exact number, but I'll probably need more than can be seen in this picture...

2. A New Hip
Well it doesn't necessarily have to be new, but Santa if you could magically heal my hip so I can get back to running that would be greatly appreciated!

3. A Cute Old House in Richmond
I want a house with multiple floors and lots of space. Old charm, but new technology. Oh, and huge closets. On a nice road in Richmond. Pretty simple request...

4. All of the clothes on my Pinterest Style Board

5. Craft Room
Where I can paint and keep all of my crafting goodies. Also so I have a room all to myself that boys are NOT allowed in. Lots of pink and frilly girly decoration. And shelving for all of my paints!

Hope that everyone is enjoying the holiday season and that Santa brings you something fun!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

The past two months have been an interesting ride when it concerns to my health. It's definitely been stressful and I've realized how thankful I am that I have never really been sick or had any major health issues. Until this fall the "biggest" thing I'd ever done to myself was sprain my ankle in high school.

2012 was a wonderful has also been a wonderful year when it comes to my health. I've almost been meat free for a year, I lost some weight I'd been carrying around a bit too long, and I began regularly exercising. I ran my first 5k and really became comfortable with running.

Then I took it a bit too far... There are definitely training programs out there for a reason, and I thought that diverging just a little bit wouldn't be the biggest deal. I went to a wedding out of town and had a crazy week at work and did nothing (except eat too much crap) for two weeks. I decided to jump back in with my running group for our 6 mile run. And then just to make up for it I pushed it another .3 miles making it the longest run I've ever complete.

After this I was walking around gloating at how easy it was to run the 6.3 miles after taking two weeks off. Little did I know that this is how I hurt myself. I still had two weeks left before my 8k, and after trying to do 3 miles and having to stop halfway through because my hip was uncomfortable...I knew it was a bad sign.

I still ran my 8k within my time goal (51:06-which I still need to share with you!) and faster than I had typically ran through training. It didn't hurt much that day but I think I was too cold and too excited to let it get to me. After trying to run on Thanksgiving morning and stopping after half a mile I knew it was definitely time to get things checked out.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of doctors offices and co-pays (annoying). X-rays showed nothing, and considering my hip only hurts when I run and in a way that I cannot describe, I felt pretty helpless attempting to explain things. Finally I went in for an MRI, which made me feel like I was in Grey's Anatomy. Luckily I only went in halfway, I'm not claustrophobic but it would have been pretty creepy to be all the way in their so tight.

What we found can be summed up as this: I do not have a stress fracture (thankfully!) but I do have a part of my hip bone that is inflamed/bruised. If I don't try and heal it, then it could become fractured. Typically people get stress fractures where the yellow arrow is pointing in the large part of the hip bone. I'm still not quite sure if mine is more in the neck or in the ball that fits into the pelvic socket, I think the neck, but the area in the red circle is pretty accurate. The MRI explains it, but of course it's in medical speak.

With my results I got the news that I needed to be off it for three weeks. Three. Weeks. No weight on my right leg. What convenient news to get the week before Christmas when I'm traveling all over the world! The worst part: I have no pain and am completely capable of walking around, but I can't. I'm actually afraid that I'm going to really hurt myself trying to get up & down stairs in crutches and just getting around in general. My underarms, shoulders and back are already killing me. What a sweet first 48 hours!

So I now I will begin again. It may as well be January 2012. After my three weeks I go back to the ortho and we figure out next steps. I'll do some gait analysis and other tests to see if I'm running correctly, though I'm pretty sure I hurt myself but pushing myself. Then I'll slowly get back into running. This means no Princess Half-Marathon for this girl. I definitely bawled when I found out, but I'm guessing 2013 just wasn't the year for my first half. I've always hated the number 3... Unfortunately I can't get a refund on race registration, but I've contacted to see if I can have another person run in my place. If anyone is interested let me know.

Hopefully I won't hurt anyone in the next three weeks as my blood is already boiling at the fact that I can't do things for myself, or do things the way I'd prefer them to be done. And hopefully I won't gain 20 lbs from not moving around at all but stuffing my face with holiday cookies...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Traditions

I think that one of my favorite things (and probably favorite of many) about the holidays are traditions! I believe it's really what makes it or breaks it. You know it's holiday time when the traditions are in full swing and everything just feels right. What's so cool is that everyone has something different that they grew up doing with their families that made it so special.

This year for the first time I won't be with my family on Christmas, as Mr. Charming and I are headed south to celebrate in Georgia with his family. Of course his family has traditions of their own, but it will definitely be different than the holiday that I'm used, and much thought about this makes me so thankful for parents that created such magic for us on the holidays.

We always got to open a fun present on Christmas Eve, usually it was something interactive that we could take with us to the big sha-bang on my Italian side of the family so we'd have something to entertain us. In the past couple of years since we've been older we've switched to getting new pajamas to wear to bed and spend Christmas day in.

Food is of course a large part of the traditions. On Christmas morning we always eat Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and tons of candy from our stockings. Then we're typically good to go until dinner! But of course, you can't forget about holiday treats. My mom bakes up a storm of at least 5 or 6 different kinds of cookies, but one thing everyone always looks forward to is her famous fudge. It's what we would give to teachers at Christmas every year, and our friends and family rave about it. The best part? It's the easiest recipe in the world. So now I'll share with you one of my favorite holiday traditions...

Charming Mama's Easy Peasy Fudge

2 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups (11.5 oz. package) of chocolate chips*

*Most bags are 12 oz. The extra few chips aren't a huge issue but if you'd like to save a handful to use later just fill up half a shot glass with chips then use the rest of the bag.

Line an 8x8 pan with foil. In a large saucepan combine the butter, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla and salt over medium heat and stir constantly for 4 to 5 minutes. Bring to boil and then add in the chips, marshmallow and any additional mixins.  Stir constantly and quickly until everything is completely melted and combined. Put in the fridge and chill until hard, overnight should do it.** Use the foil to lift it out of the pan and cut into 2" sqaures.

If you want to double the recipe use a 13x9 pan.

**After the fudge has cooled for a bit, feel free to put some tin foil across the top if you're worried about it soaking up any weird fridge odors.

Change up the flavor of chips for different types of fudge or feel free to use some extract (peppermint) for flavoring. Add nuts, candy or other mixins as preferred.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Future is Bright

I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes get nervous about the future of our country. It has nothing to do with our political leaders or my personal political affiliation. It has to do with kids.

Do you see them? The kids who wear tshirts with vulgar sayings, that are glued to their smart phones and are constantly cruel to each other? First, I wonder what their parents or like, or if they're in the picture. Second, I really ponder what this kid is going to grow up to do in our society. Other than wreak havoc.

Now this is not an assumption of all children of course and I know there are plenty of wonderful ones out there, and great parents that are ensuring their children grow up with good morals and the charge to do good things.

One of my sorority sisters from college shared a video with me that some of her students put together that shows how they want to make a different. Watching this really restored my faith that there's still a really good group of youngins' out there to continue positively influencing this world...

And with that good thought, happy weekend my friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Liebster Award

While I've been out and about being a space cadet this fall I came back to my blog to see I've been nominated for The Liebster award by three of my blogging friends, Lindsay @ Typically Late, Sarah @ A T-Shirt and Pearls and Raechel @  My Fancy Life!

The Liebster award is given to an up and coming blogger who has less than 200 followers. Blogs are nominated by fellow bloggers, and while there is not an official organization that runs this or chooses a winner, it is a fun way for bloggers to get to know each other and discover new blogs.

Here are the rules:

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator sets for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Nominate 11 blogs that you love (also with less than 200 followers). Link them to your post and let them know they have been nominated.
5. No tag backs!

11 random things about me:
1. I drink an entire huge (24 oz) tumbler of water every morning before I have coffee
2. I also very impatiently add sugar and cream to my coffee while our Keurig machine at work is still brewing it
3. I always forget to close out the apps on my iPhone and typically have 30 running at once (and I wonder why it's so slow...)
4. I once met Dakota Fanning and served her ice cream
5. I make multiple to-do lists every day and then ignore them, I think it just makes me feel like I have my life together
6. Every night I routinely put on chapstick and lotion before bed yet I still have ridiculously chapped lips and dry hands
8. After that I neurotically turn my alarm on and off about 20 times just to be sure it's on (no joke)
9. My go-to Starbucks order is a tall Skinny Vanilla Latte
10. I never use the same bullet symbol or structure when I take notes
11. I feel naked without a watch but have a tendency to wear watches with clocks that are ridiculously off or have dead batteries

Since I was tagged 3 times, here are the 3 sets of questions for me to answer. It's a lot but after totally slacking on this poor blog for the past few months I think I can share 33 things with y'all...

Lindsay's Questions:

1. What is your number one “comfort food” and why?
Grilled cheese & tomato soup, hands down. My mom always used to make it and it reminds of me of snow days in elementary school!
2. If you could move anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Australia, or Portland, or Seattle. Not sure I can pick a place but I know it would need to be English speaking.
3. What is your dream job?
The one I have! No, seriously though I love being a college career advisor. The only thing that might top it would be doing my advising job 2-3 days per week and on the other days just trying out new recipes, painting for my Etsy shop and exercising. Now that would be the life!
4. Who would star as you in the movie of your life?
Rachel McAdams...duh!
5. What did you eat for dinner last night?
Grilled ahi tuna and green beans from Outback...and maybe also a huge hunk of bread...
6. What is the next movie that you want to see in theaters?
The Hobbit! Hopefully this weekend coming up?
7. What is your favorite movie quote or song lyric?
"All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it" -We Bought a Zoo
8. Do you have a “go-to” recipe that you make all the time? What is it and why?
Mexican Baked Eggs! So easy, absolutely delicious and a perfect filling meal. Comforting too.
9. Describe your favorite way to de-stress or blow off steam.
Run, have a good cry, a hot shower, read 
10. What’s your favorite app (if you have a smartphone) or website, if you don’t?
Pinterest? Honestly I'd have to say it's between Keeper, which is password protected and holds all of my logins and passwords for just about everything OR my BB&T app so I can on the spot see how little much money I have left...

Sarah's Questions:
1. What is one wish you have for your blog?
Layout. I do like my design but I'd love to change things about the functionality and have a really cool personal header. Any designers out there that want to give me a Christmas present...? ;)
2. What is your favorite ice cream topping?

Wow...loaded question. No seriously, because I can load my ice cream. I typically mainly do toppings on froyo and honestly I always go for fruit, granola some chocolate chips and those fun little mochi things that are a like a marshmallow/gummy crossbreed. 
3. What is your dream vacation?

I would give my right arm to have an entire summer to tour Europe. 
4. Cake or cupcakes?

Cupcakes. Portion control people.
5. What is your favorite accessory and why?

I'm going to generally go with jewelry on that one. It can do SO much to an outfit. I'd probably choose necklaces if I had to pick just one. 
6. Windows down or air conditioning in the car?

Windows down unless my hair needs to look presentable, or if it's hotter than heck outside.
7. What is your favorite holiday and why?

Memorial Day/4th of July/Labor Day...summer, bbqs, beach, beers, friends...who could want more?
8. What is your favorite dessert?

Ice cream. Always.
9. What are two things you carry in your purse at all times?

Business cards and a koozie. Business in the front, party in the back. 
10. Wine, beer, or neither?
Both. I'd prefer wine if I'm staying in at my house but would rather have a beer if I'm out.
11. What is your favorite style of food (Mexican, Italian, Asian, etc...)?

Oooh toughie! Probably a tie between Japanese and Mexican.

Raechel's Questions:

1. What's your go to website for online shopping?
I love Joss & Main though I've only made one purchase. I love and Amazon.
2. Who is your favorite actor/actress?
Drew Barrymore/Rachel McAdams, Ashton Kutcher/Tom Hanks
3. Chapstick or lip gloss?
Chapstick. I don't have time for my hair to get stuck on my face!
4. Favorite time of the year?
Late spring and very very early fall 
5. Current nail polish color if any?
Just took off a gray/purple color and hoping to get red on by the end of the day!
6. What celebrity's style do you love?
Reese Witherspoon or Emma Stone
7. Favorite dinner to make?
See Lindsay's questions #8
8. Any movies out or coming out that you want to see?
See Lindsay's questions #6 + Les Mis
9. Have you decorated for the holidays yet?
The first weekend of December, always!
10. Why did you start blogging?
I originally started a blog to chronicle my adventures during a traveling job with my sorority, Tri Sigma. Afterwards I realized how much I enjoyed it and decided to begin My Semi-Charmed Life as I started grad school. I love to go back and look at my own thoughts and musings at a particular point in time, and have a space to updated friends & family on my life.
11. Favorite app on your phone?
See Lindsay's questions #10

Blogs I'm tagging:
Courtney @ Little Miss MBA

I actually am bad at math, but no I didn't tag 11 because I follow many blogs with massive amounts of followers and the three people that tagged me would have been people I would have tagged too..

Questions for my Nominees:
1. If you could listen to one CD for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
2. What's the first website that you go to when you open your browser?
3. What's the background on your phone?
4. What are you currently listening to? Music? TV?
5. What is one thing you would love to have in your dream house?
6. Biggest pet peeve?
7. What's something crazy/exciting that you'd love to do but are too scared to do?
8. Are there any songs that you know 100% of the lyrics to by heart? 
9. If you could invent something, what would it be?
10. You win a contest to create a new Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor. What would be in it, and what would you name it?
11. What is your current ringtone?

Tag, YOU'RE IT! Oh, and check out the awesome blogs that I tagged!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happiness in a Cookie

Last weekend I took these cookies to a holiday party and they were a hit! They're a great compliment to the super sweet and sugary confections that always seem to dominate the typical holiday cookie lineup. I made the for the first time last holiday season with my mom and it was love at first bite. When I had to bring a cookie I knew this would be the perfect pick!

Salted Dark Chocolate Nutella Thumbprints

-2 cups flour
-1 cup & 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 sticks of butter softened
-1 1/3 cup sugar & 1 cup for rolling
-2 Tsp. kosher salt
-2 large egg yolks at room temperature
-2 Tbsp. heavy cream (I subbed for some unflavored coffee creamer because I knew I wouldn't use the whole thing of cream!)
-2 Tsp. vanilla
-1 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350*. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or foil (FYI don't ever put wax paper in the oven, not that I know from experience or anything...).
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl.
Combine the butter and 1 1/3 c sugar in a separate bowl. Beat for 2 minutes on low speed, then add the egg yolks, cream and vanilla extract and beat on low until combined.
Add the flour mixture in slowing and beat until just incorporated (the batter will get extremely thick and crumbly!).

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.
Scoop 30-35 heaping Tbsp. of dough and shape each into a ball. Roll in the sugar to coat evening.
Space the balls 2 inches apart then use your thumb, or back of a spoon, to make an indentation in the top of the cookie, gently flattening the cookies a bit as you work.

Bake one sheet at a time for 10 mins or until the edges are just set, the tops will be soft. If the indentations have lost definition, press again as soon as they come out. Put on a wire wrack to cool. Spoon a bit of Nutella onto the top center of each cookie, wait a minute for it to get melty an use tip of spoon to smooth out in the indentation. Could add some chopped nuts onto the Nutella if you wish.

This dough can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 1 week or the freezer for 1 month.


Monday, December 10, 2012

It's a Charmed Life

No semi in that title--just charm! So I've definitely be pretty scarce in the blogging world over the past few months and while there's several reasons for that, I'm excited to share one of them. I spent a good deal of time hemming and hawing over the thought of opening an Etsy shop...and then I did it!

Anyone that knows me knows that I very much enjoy being creative in many forms. When I moved into my new apartment I painted quite a few things for us to adorn the walls with, and when I was finished I didn't want to stop. The more I looked into the opportunity and researched about Etsy, I got incredibly more excited.

On November 18 I listed my first piece at It's a Charmed Life gifts! Since then I've sold that original first listing, and am currently finishing up my first custom order. It's been a great experience so far to pursue something I've always enjoyed in more of a professional way.

So check it out and if there's something you'd like to see you can definitely do a custom order request, found on the left side nav bar. Like any good store, of course we have our own social media so please consider following @CharmdLifeGifts and like us on Facebook.

And something extra special for my blogging loves who have stuck around when I left you out in the cold to read my old posts and scour my about pages as neglected this poor little space of the interwebs. Use the code "BLOGGINGCHARMS" until December 31st to receive 10% off of your order! At this point I can ship anything already made to you by Christmas, but might not be able to have a custom order ready before the holiday.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out! Happy Monday lovies, I'm glad to be back!