Thursday, December 31, 2009

Challenges to Start the New Year

I don't usually make new year's resolutions, but I have stumbled across a couple of cool challenges and have decided to take part in two of them to start 2010.

First is a one week challenge created by John Mayer, coined the "Digital Cleanse". As outlined on his blog:

I’ll be defragmenting my mental and psychological hard drive during the first seven days of the new year, and I invite you all to participate.

The cleanse will begin at 9am on January 1. This gives everyone a chance to text and tweet their new year’s well wishes, and theoretically begins upon waking up the morning of January 1. The cleanse will end at 9am on January 8.
  • Guidelines:

    *email only from laptop or desktop computers

    *cell phones can only be used to make calls, and no text messages or e-mails are allowed - if you receive a text, you must reply in voice over the phone. E-mails must be returned from a laptop or desktop computer.

    *no use of Twitter or any other social networking site - this includes reading as well as posting.

    *no visiting of any entertainment or gossip sites. (No need to detail which ones - you know what they are.)

I think I can do it. Actually, I know I can do it. Texting and social networking make it way too easy to avoid talking to others. It also isolates me from my husband. I know he gets annoyed when we are doing something together and I stop talking and get lost with whatever I am doing with my phone. As for phone calls, I normally avoid calling people like the plague, but it makes me antisocial and distant from my friends and family...so I need to slowly bring it back into my everyday life. This will be good for me. Will you join in too?

The second challenge, Improve Yourself! 2010 was created by Dustin at Engaged Marriage.



As described on his blog:
  1. You will choose one area of your life to improve over the first 8 weeks of 2010 (January 3rd through February 27th). This is completely open based on your desires, but some suggestions would include the areas of fitness, personal finances, spirituality, communication with your spouse, parenting, career, education, romance, etc.
  2. You will set your own goals for what you intend to accomplish over the course of eight weeks. Goal-setting is incredibly important, so I will publish a post soon (now found here) to help you establish specific and effective goals.
  3. Each week, I will publish a post that focuses on self-improvement and motivation, and I’ll report on my own personal progress toward my goals. You must comment on each weekly post to report your progress and remain accountable.
  4. At the end of eights weeks, I will choose the top three finishers based on who I feel made the most meaningful progress in self-improvement. At this time, I will also “call out” all those who did NOT finish all eight weeks (to add a little more accountability)!
  5. The final three contestants will summarize their progress in a short write-up, and you (their fellow competitors) will vote to choose the best overall success story.
You can participate too by leaving a comment here by January 5th.

My goal is to save money for a down payment for our first home. We are planning to buy something in the summer of 2011, after AJ graduates from law school. I recently payed off my credit card debt and since I am sans student loans I figured it is the perfect time to start allocating money to something important rather than blowing all my disposable income on dinners and drinks out and shoes/clothes/bags I don't need. We opened an ING Direct Orange savings account specifically for our down payment and have already saved almost $2,000 in just one week! (BTW, if you want to open an account let me know and I can send you a referral. You'll get $25 from ING when you deposit $250 and I'll get a $10 referral bonus. Win-win!)

So those are my goals to start the new year. Let me know if you decide to participate in either of these challenges!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Peak into Our Home

Last week Lacey participated in a Holiday Homes Tour, and although I missed the chance to formally participate, I thought I would still give you a glimpse into our home.

Here is the holiday wreath that I made a few weeks ago. When I bought the ribbon I didn't realize that it was so narrow and it was really difficult making a big bow. I don't love how the wreath turned out, but it still looked pretty enough to hang on the door. I still have ribbon left over so I may redo the bow next year.


Here is our living room. This was the first year we bought a real tree, and as I mentioned here, it was quite an adventure getting it home. We also ordered swag for our fireplace from the Boy Scout troop at our church. I changed out the generic red bow with the polka dot ribbon to tie into my polka dot Christmas theme.




I bought these flowers two weeks ago at Safeway and can't believe they are still alive. There originally were red roses in the bunch, but they died after a few days, so I just pulled them out since the other stuff still looked pretty!


We also have a fireplace in the second bedroom so we hung our first stockings (created with glitter glue just like Lacey!) and put lights on our decorative tree.


I hope you enjoyed a peak into our home! My district canceled school for today and Wednesday so we are headed back to NY today instead of Christmas Eve. Yay!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas is Almost Here!

Well what a week it has been. I have been so busy with Christmas parties and various Christmas related activities that I didn't get a chance to post about the many things that have been happening around here. Of course now I can't remember everything I wanted to post about, and since I am off today thanks to the two million inches of snow that fell over the weekend, I don't really feel like racking my brain right now. So I'll just fill you in on a few highlights....

On Wednesday I got together with my favorite blog friends turned real life friends, Landlocked Mermaid, Ms. Mindless, and Pink Pearls and Muddy Sneakers. We had a small gift exchange and among other awesome things, Ms. Mindless gave me this totally over the top bow headband. What do you think?


I wanted to wear it to work, but was too chicken. I may try and wear it on New Year's. I could pull it off then, right?

On Friday I met up with one of my BFF's from high school. She is currently a grad student at Temple, but will be in the DC area for a few months while she is on internship. I am so excited! We had dinner at a hole in the wall Italian restaurant around the corner and then came home and drank wine by the fire since it began snowing while we were at dinner. It was so nice to catch up and chat about how much we have changed over the years. There is just something about being with a friend that has known you forever that is comforting.

Because of the storm she ended up spending the night, but luckily was able to make it back to Maryland Saturday morning before the storm really kicked in. Here is what it looked like when we first woke up:

And here is what it looked like a few hours later:

Insane! We haven't seen a snowstorm like this since we moved from New York, so it was quite fun to experience it again. We spent most of the day cuddled up inside, but went on a couple walks to curb our cabin fever. In the afternoon we walked down to E. Capitol St. and down to the Capitol, which was quite a scene. There were tons of people in the middle of the street, pulling kids in sleds, cross country skiing, and walking in snowshoes. Something about seeing everyone out there was so amazing. I took a bunch of videos, but most of them are quite shaky since we were walking too. Note to self: when taking video....stand still.

Yesterday I went around the corner to Landlocked Mermaid's house where we baked 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies. We were baking machines. LM packaged her cookies in monogrammed baking boxes and even sent a pretty box home with me. This is what they looked like:

Aren't they so pretty!? I came home and put my box on the dining room table. BIG MISTAKE. We went to dinner later last night with another couple and when we returned home this is what we saw:


I about had a heart attack. There were probably 6-8 chocolate chip cookies in there! Kona looked more guilty than sick so we jumped online to see if we needed to take her to the emergency vet. The websites we found said semisweet chocolate is toxic to a 50 pound dog when they ingest 15 ounces. Kona is 22 pounds so we figured about 7 ounces would be toxic for her. A full bag of semisweet chocolate is 12 ounces and that makes about 60 cookies so I don't think she had a toxic dose. We are just waiting for her to get it all out of her system so I can stop freaking out! If you are the praying kind, please pray for her to get well soon!

If they clean up the roads I will be back at work tomorrow and Wednesday and then we are heading back to NY on Christmas Eve. I hope to post a couple more times before Christmas, but I never know how life is going to pan out so if I don't make it back...Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jingle Jammies

Have you seen the Old Navy commercial where they advertise "Jingle Jammies"? If not, you can watch it on You Tube here.

Now substitute "Jingle Jammies" for "Single Ladies" in the song by Beyonce and you know what has been repeating over and over in my head since Saturday.

You're welcome.

And it wasn't me that first started singing this.....it was the other person in our household! Yikes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Babies

It has been a popular week for celebrity births!

Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett's son was born last Friday, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen had their baby Tuesday, and the Duggars welcomed their 19th child yesterday. Thanks for bombarding me with baby stories, People!

Why am I so jealous? I know it is not the right time for us, but I can't seem to shake this feeling. Boo!

It probably doesn't help that my aunt keeps sending my pictures and videos of her super cute 4 month old....

Gah! I want one!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busiest Week Ever!

I can probably count on one hand the hours I spent home and awake this past week. Okay, maybe not one hand, but definitely two. Monday was the only night I didn't have something! It was the busiest week I have had in a long, long time....but it was totally worth it.

On Tuesday I worked my normal 7.5 hours, had cheer practice for 2 hours, came home to take Kona out, and then headed to a restaurant to meet with some girls to discuss Olive Kitteridge. Have you read the book? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. I loved the book, but didn't like the story. Does that make sense? I don't want to give it away if you haven't read the book, but a bunch of the things about the story didn't sit right with me. However, the book is very well written and is presented as short stories, which I liked.

Wednesday felt like the longest day of my life. We hosted our first home basketball game, so after I work I had to supervise my girls in study hall and then prepare them for the game. The were so giddy and nervous; it was adorable. They did a great job considering it was the first game. The game was supposed to start at 5, but didn't actually start until 5:30, so I didn't get home until 7. That is a 12 hour workday! I don't know how those of you that regularly work 12 hour days do it! I was so tempted to stop and pick something up, but knew that we had food waiting to be cooked in the refrigerator. When I arrived home I cooked a couple steaks, some mushrooms, and broccoli, quickly ate, then patted myself on the back and promptly headed to bed.

On Thursday I left work a few minutes early so that we could get in line for the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Last month AJ and I both entered the lottery for tickets to the event and we luckily scored two seated tickets!

The event was hosted by Randy Jackson (who was broadcasting about 20 feet ahead of us) and included performances by Jordin Sparks, Sheryl Crow, Common and the PS 22 chorus, Celtic Woman, and a few other people. President Obama gave a Christmas message, Mrs. Obama read The Night Before Christmas, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made a quick cameo too. Here is video of the tree lighting!




By Friday I was pretty much spent, but a teacher at my school gave me tickets for the opening night of Zoolights at the National Zoo.

I wanted to go last year so I was actually really excited when she offered me the tickets. It was a lot of fun and good exercise so I am really glad we went. Ever punctual, we were able to see the opening ceremony which included "dancing lights". We of course videoed the dancing lights, but that video is 3 and a half minutes long and I am not about to try and upload that to blogger. If we are facebook friends you can see it on my page there. It is really neat....the lights flash with the music (obviously I am easily amused).


Yesterday morning I headed back to school at 7 am. I wanted to cry when the alarm went off. The three other coaches and I took the cheer girls to see a cheer competition out in Maryland and it started at 8 am. It was a great experience for the girls though and I think it motivated them to get their booties in gear. On the way home from the competition it started snowing! I came home, put on my sweatpants and did not move off the couch for the rest of the day. It was glorious.

Today we went to church, hit up the grocery store, and got our Christmas tree. Of course, getting our tree wasn't without a mishap. I refused to put the tree in my car (it probably wouldn't have fit anyway), so we decided to tie it to the roof. Everyone in the parking lot was doing it! I asked AJ if he knew how to go about this, and he assured me that he did. I followed his directions, put all the windows down and started tying that sucker down. However, we ran into a little problem. Let's look at this picture.....


Can you tell what's wrong here? No? Us either. Until we tried to get into the car. Yes, we tied the doors shut! I wanted to untie everything and start over, but AJ refused....so we CLIMBED THROUGH THE WINDOWS in the middle of The Home Depot parking lot on a busy Sunday morning. Obviously I took video of this!



Ignore my hyena laugh, please. Yes, this is my life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keys to Success

The keys to a successful weekend living in a mountain home with your parents and in-laws:

  • Two dogs that never tire of walks
  • A hot tub
  • Apples to Apples and other games
  • College football
  • A casino
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House
  • An outlet mall (especially when you go twice)
  • A celebrity scandal (it gives everyone something to talk about!)
  • Thick skin (because someone is inevitbly going to say something that is offensive and/or annoying)
  • Lots of wine

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Monday!

I survived the long weekend in the mountain home with my parents and in-laws! It actually was a lot of fun and I will write a full recap later today or tomorrow. The 3 and a half hour drive took us 6 hours on Wednesday and we came home to no hot water yesterday, but other than those two snafus the holiday weekend was a success!

Today you can catch me over at the DC Ladies with an easy recipe to get you back into the swing of things following Thanksgiving! I will be posting a recipe or restaurant review on DC Ladies every other Monday, so be sure to check me out :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Mouse Interrupts the Weekend Recap

Woo hoo! It's the best Monday of the year! Only one more day of work this week and it's the weekend again! Our weekend flew by so I am looking forward to some more relaxation time over the long weekend.

A few highlights.....

I went to a New Moon party hosted by Miss Mindless. She and her friend went all out and it was such a blast! I made AJ come with me too. Don't worry, he and Mr. Mindless (haha, I bet he won't like that nickname) had fun together. They even participated in the games. Later that night we all went to see New Moon. Obviously I loved it!

I went to a Wii Fit Plus party hosted by La Petite Chic on Sunday morning. It was so much fun! I love the new features of Wii Fit Plus and as always, Brand About Town put on an awesome party.

I was going to post more details, but there is a mouse running around our living room and I just can't focus!! Gross! We have had mouse traps set up for weeks and we can't catch this stupid mouse. Grrrr. Anyone have any secret mouse trapping tricks?

Back to screaming and standing on the back of the couch!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hold the Holiday Cheer

After church tonight we headed to Uno Pizzeria for dinner. They were playing Christmas music inside the restaurant! I know that Christmas is right around the corner, but I really think we should wait until Thanksgiving is over to start celebrating.

I know, I know...this kind of makes me a hypocrite considering that I have already begun Christmas shopping, but I'm talking outright celebration, not Christmas preparations.

Don't get me wrong, I plan on watching Elf Thursday night on USA (and probably Friday and Saturday night too) and I will put up our Christmas tree a week from tonight, but I just can't do anything until I have eaten my Thanksgiving dinner.

Does this make me a scrooge?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Thanksgiving Plan

Next week AJ, Kona, and I are venturing up to the Poconos for Thanksgiving weekend. Last year we drove back to NY for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was just too much. This year we decided to rent a cabin with both sets of parents and meet half way. I am excited about being holed up in the woods for a few days, but am also freaking out about all 6 of us (and 2 dogs) spending 4 days together....crazy, right?

We hosted my parents, my brother, and AJ's parents for Thanksgiving in North Carolina two years ago and that was a success. We had a nice Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, the guys played golf while the ladies went shopping on Friday, we all went to the ECU football game on Saturday, and everyone parted ways on Sunday. However, our parents were in hotels, so we all had our own space and could part ways if need be.

Everyone gets along pretty well, but there are a few distinct differences between our families. My brother usually provides comic relief when things get tense or awkward, but he has to work and won't be joining us this year. I am hoping we can all get along and that there are no major issues. Otherwise we're all in for a loonnnng weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great Finds!

I've come across some really great products recently and thought I would share the finds with all of you!

I follow a few of the "frugal blogs" (Money Saving Mom, Fantabulously Frugal, Frugal in Virgina) for the deals info and advice on different ways to save money. One of my favorite types of posts are the ones alerting everyone to free samples. The samples make great travel items and often introduce me to various products I normally would not buy.

Photo from Burt's Bees

A couple weeks ago I received a sample of Burt's Bees Natural Acne Solutions Targeted Spot Treatment and I am OBSESSED. I was worried that my skin might break out after going off the pill, so when I saw this free sample I signed up right away. My skin isn't bad, but I definitely get a few ginormous pimples every now and then. The spot treatment is a liquid that you rub anywhere that you have a pimple and it literally works like magic in just a couple of days. The bottle says the active ingredient is salicylic acid, but the website lists a bunch of other inactive ingredients (in case you are interested). It retails for $10 on the website and I will definitely be ordering a bottle when my sample runs out!

Switching gears....

I recently ordered a tea set and a coffee set from Yedi Houseware via One Kings Lane (let me know if you want an invite!) and am very impressed with their products, so I wanted to share these finds with you too!

My mom's family draws names for Christmas because there are so many of us (I think there are 40 people?) and we can't buy gifts for everyone. This year we drew my 3 and a half year old cousin. While browsing One Kings Lane I stumbled upon the Yedi sale and knew that the Polka Dot Tea Set would be perfect for her. Here she is last May at my bridal tea:


Yes, she is squeezing her tea bag with her hand. Hehe.

The set is great quality, cute as can be, and comes in really nice packaging. I can't wait to see her open it on Christmas day. I remember I was her age when I received my first tea set and hope she enjoys hers as much as I enjoyed mine. When I was looking at the website just now I saw that the tea set was featured in Oprah at Home magazine!


I also ordered the Birch Coffee Set from One Kings Lane for AJ's parents. These colors fit perfectly with their style and I know they will get great use out of them. They are so hard to buy for and I thought this was a practical gift that will hopefully last a long time. This set was featured in Good Housekeeping magazine!


You can't really see the details in this picture (I love how the inside is a different color) so here is a photo from the Yedi website too.


Hopefully this was a useful post. I have a tendency to only call out companies or products that suck, so I wanted to spotlight a few things that have made me happy lately!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Recap

Happy Sunday! I am in a great mood today and I think it is because I have had a really amazing weekend. This is a pretty long recap, so bear with me!

Friday night we met up for margaritas with Miss Mindless before heading down to Barracks Row. We ate at Jordan's 8 and I finally tried sushi! We ordered Shrimp Tempura and Lava Rolls and I liked them both. I am already looking forward to my next sushi experience. We came home after dinner and watched Monsters vs. Aliens in front of a fire. I fell asleep shortly after the movie started, but AJ tells me it was pretty funny.

I'm not sure where all our energy and enthusiasm came from, but we were up and at 'em bright and early yesterday morning.

I had seen and heard about the $1 scarf sale at Old Navy and really wanted to stock up on some Christmas gifts. We showed up right at 9 am and hit the jackpot.

I bought 10 scarves total...6 women's and 4 men's. I also bought AJ a sweater and plaid flannel shirt. There was another promotion going on where you received an extra 30% off when you used your ON/Gap/BR card, so I ended up spending only $40 total!

We then headed over to Barnes & Noble to get some coffee and I finally tried a decaf pumpkin spice latte. It tasted just as good as the real thing. I had a $15 B&N gift card left over from Christmas 2007 so I gave it to AJ so he could buy the latest book in his favorite series (The Wheel of Time). There are a few books I wanted to buy, but I hate buying books unless I know I am going to love them. Anyone else with me on this one?

Next on our list was Pet Smart. We bought training treats and a clicker in hopes that Kona can learn some manners. She knows how to sit, but other than that is pretty much a lost cause. Has anyone used clicker training? Any tips?

Then we hit up AT&T. I was eligible for an upgrade back in July, but my BlackBerry was still working and I wanted to get a few real paychecks under my belt before I splurged on a new phone. Well the day finally came....I bought an iPhone! It is just as amazing as everyone said it would be and I'm in love! What apps should I download? So far I have Nike + iPod, Facebook, UrbanSpoon, Shazam, Pandra, To Do's, Twitterrific (Yes, I'm baaaack), ESPN ScoreCenter, NYTimes, and Google.

Our early morning shopping made us super hungry so we stopped for a quick breakfast at a diner in Virginia. The food was pretty good, but still pales in comparison to may favorite diner at home. I think I've mentioned this before, but the two things I miss most about NY are diners and Italian restaurants. Sigh.

Once we made it back into DC it was almost noon and by this time people were out in swarms. Our final stop was the hardware store where we could barely maneuver the aisles....partly because the aisles are SO NARROW, but mostly because there were 30 people in a teeny tiny store. This is exactly why I like shopping early on Saturday mornings.

The rest of the day was spent finishing up cleaning the house (I helped this time) and drinking tea, eating cinnamon crumb cake, and chatting with PP&MS. It was a really fun and relaxing afternoon.

Last night we went to 5 o'clock mass followed by a wine and cheese party in the church rectory. We then went to Sonoma, a wine bar on the hill. The food was less than stellar, but the atmosphere was nice. We lounged on a couch and drank some red wine. Senator Al Franken was also dining at Sonoma last night. I wanted to get a picture, but it would have been so obvious and I didn't want to disturb his meal. I was definitely star struck though. I mean c'mon, he used to be Stuart Smalley!

Because our food wasn't that great and we weren't full, we decided to head over to Good Stuff Eatery, the burger restaurant owned by Spike from Top Chef. We split a burger, but we probably could have each eaten the whole thing because it was so yummy! I saw Spike walking through the restaurant as we were eating and wanted to say hey and/or take a picture, but I was too chicken. Lucky for me, after we left the restaurant we were standing at the corner waiting to cross the street when he suddenly ran right in front of us while trying to hail a cab. AJ said "Spike" and he turned around and said hey guys and to have a good night. Squeal! I immediately called my mom to brag. Haha.

Today we went grocery shopping and are now watching football. It is another beautiful fall day here in DC so we are planning to take Kona on a nice long walk later. I might sit outside for a while and read too. We've got to enjoy the nice weather while it is still here!

So that is our weekend in a pretty big nutshell. I hope everyone else had a great weekend too!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cleaning Day

Today was cleaning day at our house! AJ, the best househusband ever, did laundry, folded clothes, cleaned our bedroom, did the dishes, etc.

I came home from work today and promptly snuggled up on the couch because it is freezing in our house and I hate cleaning.

Here I am not cleaning:

(Note the hot rollers on the floor by the door. I know, I know, they should be in the bathroom or bedroom...but this is what works for me. I put them in my hair every morning as I am literally walking out the door. Yes, this means I wear them in the car.)

This is the picture he took of himself after taking the above picture of me.


He was not happy that I wasn't helping. Luckily, we both burst out laughing when we looked at the pictures.

I plan to take him out to dinner tonight to make up for my lack of cleaning. Fair trade, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rant

I'd like to throw a question out to the universe...

Why don't people understand that I am married?

I know I don't look all that old, but I wear my engagement and wedding rings EVERY DAY and always sign my emails with Mrs. Last Name AND introduce myself as Mrs. Last Name.

Now, I know it is the culture of a lot of schools to only call people Miss Last Name (whether you are married or not) because it is easier for young kids. I am fine with being called Miss...that isn't the issue for me. But I get really annoyed when people ask me about my boyfriend. Even worse is when they act SO surprised when I mention my husband. And then people usually say something asinine that makes me even more annoyed.

Really?? You never noticed the rings? You didn't see the Mrs. Last Name signs and visual cues all over my office?

This is definitely a pet peeve.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cheap Finds

Have you shopped at Coldwater Creek?

I was browsing online for Christmas presents for my mom (it is one of her favorite stores) and I found a few really cute accessories! The best part, they have an outlet section on their website and there are some amazing deals. I ended up buying a purse and a pair of shoes for myself, in addition to Christmas presents. Oops! Merry Christmas to me?

The deals were too good to pass up though. I used a coupon code and combined with the already discounted merchandise, I saved a bunch of money.

I got this ruffled leather purse for $27! I don't see it on the website anymore, so they must have sold out.


I got these buckle flats for $22! I am always looking for pretty flats because I can wear them to work and not feel way overdressed.


Have you stumbled upon any random stores where you found cute stuff? I'd love to check them out!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kristin Vining Photography

My best friend is getting married next summer! She just had her engagement pictures taken and I just had to share my favorite shot.
Image via Kristin Vining

They decided to do themed engagement pictures (Grease, Halloween, & 80's) and I think that they are so fun! You can see the rest of their sneak peek here.

Their photographer, Kristin Vining, is so talented and I love every wedding and engagement session she has posted on her blog. BFF says that she is fantastic to work with too. I wish I had found Kristin before my wedding, especially after the debacle we are continuing to go through with our wedding photographer, a year and a half later. I would have booked Kristin in a second!

Kristin Vining Photography is based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, so if you are looking for a photographer in the area I would definitely check her out!

ETA: Shortly after posting this, I found out their pictures were featured on Style Me Pretty! Yay!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Random Tidbits

Life. Is. Crazy.

Luckily it is mostly in a good way! I seriously feel like I haven't sat down and relaxed all week though. I am looking forward to this weekend so I can veg. So since the last time I posted, here is what's been going on...
  • AJ had a moot court competition all day Saturday. He did really well and advanced to the next round and made the moot court board! He will be competing again this coming Saturday. This means I have the afternoon to myself to do girly things like paint my nails and watch chick flicks. Score!
  • I was asked to help coach the cheer and dance teams at my school. We are planning on having 3 teams.... 3rd - 5th cheer, 3rd - 5th dance, and 6th - 7th cheer/dance. It is a lot of fun working with the girls, but is also quite the experience (as it always is working in this district!). We have had an after school clinic every day this week and today are the official tryouts. During the clinic I worked some muscles that I haven't since college, and needless to say I was SUPER sore.
  • I officially work from dark to dark now. It is pitch black when I leave the house at 6:53 AM and now that I am staying late to help with cheer & dance, it is dark by the time I get home. I am pretty sure DST ending (Thanks MS) isn't going to help much in the mornings either because it will still be dark when I get up. Boo.
  • I had a book club meeting Tuesday night and only had wine for dinner. Oops.
  • Two of my friends that I worked with for 3 summers at autism camp (they met at camp and got married in 2006) revealed that they are pregnant. I am SO happy for them, but I still can't stop thinking about how I wish I were pregnant too.
  • I started Christmas shopping this week. I have picked up a few gifts here and there over the past year (if I see something for someone I will order it and put it away for Christmas), but the official shopping has just begun. I even started a spreadsheet! The UPS man is going to be my new best friend.
  • I decided to take a Twitter break last Tuesday. It has been over a week since I last posted or visited the website and I do not miss it as much as I thought I would. Sure, I still have moments when I think oh, that thought is a good tweet, but really....it is just a distraction I don't need or want right now. I may decide to come back and post things sporadically, but for now...I am still on a break.
  • I have been using the phone a lot more lately. I am usally not a phone talker, but I have been doing a lot of catching up with family and friends and it is really nice getting back in touch with people.
  • I am not a big Halloween person and do not plan on dressing up or going to any parties. I know AJ will be drained after his competition, so we will likely just open a bottle of wine, answer the door for trick or treaters, and watch the Yankees game. Lame? Maybe. But this is my life now and I love it.
  • As you may have noticed by the time stamp on this post, I am posting during my lunch break at school. My blog is blocked by our network (as P*rn!) because of my BC post, but I figured out a way to go through blogger and publish posts. Yay!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm Crafty!

I have been so crafty lately! Here is what I have been up to...

I decided not to add anything to my fall wreath and instead hung it on the door as is. I just couldn't find a way to make all the stuff work, so I opted to keep it simple. I watched this YouTube video to learn the basics of how to make the bow.

I'm looking forward to starting my Christmas wreath...let's hope I can be a little more creative!

As for the leftover leaves and flowers...I am thinking of bending a hanger into a circle and making a centerpiece and/or jar candle adornment. A part of me feels like that is a little knick-knacky though, so I might need a different plan. Hmm...

I completed my most recent project the other night and am planning to wear it tomorrow!

I first heard about this ruffle/corsage shirt from Miss Mindless, which she found here. The original directions can be found here. I bought two shirts from TJ Maxx on clearance for 5 dollars each. It took me about an hour to cut out all the hearts and another hour to sew them on. I did it over two nights and it was super easy once I figured out how to bunch the hearts. I wasn't planning to make my corsage so tight, but I really like how it turned out. I am going to make another one with a looser corsage as soon as I find more shirts.


I also have some of the cut-up shirt leftover and plan to make something out of that. Maybe some rosette pins? Not sure yet.

My last project is more artsy than crafty and will be a continual work in progress. I heard about Frame The Date via a Facebook friend and Ashley at just about the some moment (it was actually kind of freaky) a couple weeks ago. I love, love, love, this idea, but refuse to pay 75 dollars for a frame and a few pictures of numbers. Since I have my trusty Canon Rebel, I plan to shoot all the numbers I need and make my own Frame The Dates. I shot my first number today...the day of my husband's birthday!

There are also a few jewelry projects I want to start before the holidays so there will be more crafty posts in the near future!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Caffeine

More body purification news! I know, I know...what is happening to me?

Last week I decided to give up caffeine.

I was never a big coffee drinker, but this school year has really messed with my energy levels (waking at 6 and being at work at 7:15 is hard!!) and I picked up a coffee habit pretty quickly. I was getting headaches like clockwork when the caffeine wore off, and I was not about to start drinking coffee during the day too.

Instead I decided to just cut it out.

I rarely drink soda, so it shouldn't be an issue giving that up as well. The one thing I do drink on a pretty regular basis is iced tea. Unsweetened, of course. I haven't had any since my anti-caffeine moment, but I am pretty sure I will start drinking it again once I am completely headache free. So I guess the more accurate description of this new lifestyle is limited caffeine intake.

I will get my warm drink fix in the morning with hot chocolate and herbal tea and perhaps a decaf Pumpkin Spice Latte every now and then. They make them decaf, right?

Speaking of Starbucks....

Jenn at Jeans Friday is giving away five Starbucks prize packs! Head over to her blog to enter. Tell her I sent you!

http://jeansfriday.blogspot.com/2009/10/starbucks-giveaway.html

You can enter the giveaway by answering Jenn's super easy question (or follow, blog, tweet, etc.). This not only gives you an entry, but also helps her to win her own prize pack, including Bose headphones. If you read Jenn's blog you know that she travels all the time for work and the headphones would be a welcome addition to her carry-on bag. So go help her win and maybe get a prize pack too!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Changed

AJ and I went on an impromptu date at Matchbox the other night. We ordered a pizza to share, and before I ate my first slice, I sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese on top.

Why is this significant? Before I met AJ, I never ever ever ever did this. As I was sprinkling away, AJ asked if I had told my dad that I now like Parmesan cheese and I replied that I hadn't.

We then began talking about how both of us hide certain things from our family, for fear that they will be upset that we have both changed as a result of our relationship. Does that make sense?

One of the simple things that my dad and I have always bonded over is our dislike of grated Parmesan cheese. One example....One night I was eating at my favorite Italian restaurant with my family. The man sitting at the table next to us was putting Parmesan on his pasta for almost 2 straight minutes. He literally would not stop putting cheese on his food. The smell was so strong and my dad and I were laughing so hard at how this guy was being ridiculous. It is our thing.

And now, I feel bad telling him that AJ has introduced me to the wonderfulness that is Parmesan cheese. A part of me realizes this is silly, but still...I can't help but feel a little guilty that I am not the same daughter I was a few years ago. This is obviously a really trivial example, but it got me thinking about marriage and how you change as a result.

Have you experienced this?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Times & Bad

Wow. I can't believe my post about going off the pill got so much attention! I think it received more comments than any other post I have written in the year and a half I've had this blog. Crazy!

I want to thank everyone for all the supportive and informative comments and emails. I was so nervous to post about my decision, but I am glad I did. I love that blogging opens up communication about various topics. Many people were not familiar with NFP and/or FAM, but are now interested in learning more. A lot of people also mentioned that they would like to know how my experience goes. I will definitely keep you all updated when I have more to report! I imagine I will have a lot to say in a month or so. If in the meantime anyone has any questions, feel free to email me.

Moving on....

Today was not good. The morning started out fine, but around 9 o'clock I got a message from AJ alerting me that his locker at school had been broken into and every single one of his law books was stolen. He was so upset. I hated that I was at work and couldn't be there for him. So far there is no word from the school or the police, but the bookstores in the area are on the lookout for anyone that tries to sell them back. The police will also be checking the surveillance cameras they have throughout the law school, so perhaps they will get a lead from there. I can't believe someone would steal his books, but they are so expensive that someone probably wants to make a quick buck. SO UPSETTING. Not only is there an obvious monetary loss, but AJ took a ton of notes in the book margins and those are all gone too.

In an effort to make him feel better (because the walk/run/walk we took wasn't cutting it), I whipped up some pumpkin cheesecake while dinner (chicken and biscuits...perfect for this fall weather) was baking in the oven. I posted about this super easy recipe last year, but it is so short and simple that I will post it again.

Mix one tub Philadelphia Ready to Eat Cheesecake filling with a 12oz. can of 100% pure pumpkin, two teaspoons of ground cinnamon, and a half teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Pour into graham cracker crust and top with cinnamon sugar. Refrigerate for an hour. Viola!

I'm also letting him control the remote tonight. I know, I'm the best wife ever ;)

Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bye Bye Birth Control

I have always been weird about taking medicine. I don't know why I'm like this...but I am. I take my birth control pill every day, but I don't like to. So, this Sunday, I am going to stop.

Now don't freak (I'm looking at you, Sweet Bea). This does not mean I am going to have a baby right away. I just want to see what my body is like when it is not full of hormones. I have been on the pill for such a long time that I am kind of freaked out that everything is not working properly. I am hoping this will help me to become more aware of my body and how it works, and also to understand more about myself in general.

I put out a Natural Family Planning information request on Twitter and I immediately got a lot of responses. I did some research based on the info people sent me and am planning to start Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Method tomorrow. I say both because I am not 100% on board with the religious part of NFP, but I'm trying to work towards it. So we'll see. I just like the idea of not being on the pill, so they both are applicable at this point.

For now, we are planning to use NFP/FAM to avoid pregnancy. I am hoping that I can spend the next year or two getting in shape so that when we are ready to start trying I am healthy.

So that is where I am right now. And I like it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Review Websites: Yay or Nay?

What are your thoughts on review websites?

Our medical, dental, and vision insurance just kicked in, so I have been searching for providers like a crazy woman the last few days. I asked my friends, colleagues, and Twitter to get some recommendations, but I still have been searching the review websites to see what other strangers are saying about a potential provider.

I am a little overwhelmed to say the least. Here is the cycle.....someone will recommend a provider, I will Google them, find a review on Yelp or RateMD, undoubtedly find at least one bad review, and subsequently be scared that they will be a terrible doctor/dentist/optometrist.

I had a similar experience when looking at RateMyApartment (I think that is what the website was called) when we were planning our move to DC. Every single apartment complex had at least one horrid review. Whether it was the management, the bugs, the noise, the leaks, or whatever....there was always something that made one person's living experience a nightmare. This was one of the major reasons we decided to rent from a random guy that listed his condo on craigslist. There were no bad reviews to look at since the place was part of a row house. Plus, we felt more comfortable dealing with one guy instead of a big company.

To be honest, we never really had any issues at our old place, minus the one mean guy that hated Kona. But even if there was a website that allowed me to rate our last apartment, I probably wouldn't.

I know a lot of people use Yelp to review restaurants too. Do you read them before you choose a place? Does it influence your decision? AJ will sometimes check them, but I usually dismiss them because I am a picky eater (although I am getting better) and I don't think my experience will be the same as some random person that likely has different tastes than I do. Why can't I be this blasé when it comes to providers and apartments?!?

Do you think people usually only submit a review if they have an exceptionally good experience or an exceptionally bad experience? Are the websites really that useful then? I can't say for sure, but I guess I will find out soon....

I decided to call a few places to set up appointments. I figure if the person and/or office is terrible we can just look for a new provider next time. AJ has a dentist appointment tomorrow and I have an eye appointment Thursday, so I will know sooner rather than later if I made good choices.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall Wreath

Making a fall wreath isn't as easy as I expected it to be.

Here is what I have so far:


And here is what I have left to use:


I don't know how to go about incorporating the leaves and flowers in with the bow. Help?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

All Grown Up

Despite getting married over a year ago, having a big girl job, being in my mid-twenties*, etc. I have never really felt like an adult. Granted, I never really thought about it, but still...I think the fact that I never thought about it means I didn't identify with that role.

Does that make sense?

As I sit here thinking about this weekend, I feel old. Not in a bad way, but in a grown up way. Nothing really significant happened, but I just feel like I'm there (kind of like those State Farm commercials).
  • I payed three different bills on Friday. Enough said.
  • This morning I went to church because I wanted to, not because my parents told me to (which used to be the case when I was younger). I am even thinking about joining a church. I was raised Catholic and although I wasn't practicing for a long time, I feel like I am ready again. We'll see how this pans out...
  • This afternoon I went to a home show party. Not only did I attend, but I wanted everything in the catalog. Now that we live in a real house, I want to decorate and organize like a crazy person. I bought a bunch of super cute (and functional) items and can't wait until they are delivered. It will be like Christmas morning!
  • On my way home from the party I stopped by Michaels and bought supplies to make a fall wreath and a holiday wreath. I used to do crafty stuff with my mom and aunts when I was younger, but when I moved away I stopped. Miss Mindless likes to craft, so she has motivated me to get back into it. I am so excited to do all the projects I have swirling through my head.
  • This evening I used one of those headset things to call my grandma while I was chopping vegetables for chicken soup. Multitasking at its finest! You know, because adults multitask.
I know some or maybe all of these things may not seem adult-like to others, and I can't really explain why each of them resonates with me, but they do. I'm not sure if the feeling will last, but for now....I feel like a grown up.

What things make you feel like a grown up?

* BTW, when did this happen? I still get nervous when ordering/buying alcohol and the person asks to see my ID.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fashion Editor

Have you played Fashion Editor on Polyvore yet? Click the link, create a set using one or more of fall's trendiest items, and if Rachel Zoe likes your set, you win a $250 gift card!

It is difficult only using items from Piperlime.com, but I think I found some items that work with the ruffle shirt. I know the boyfriend jeans trend is hit or miss for a lot of people, but I think the femininity of the shirt tones them down a bit. What do you think? Also, I love wearing neutrals and adding a pop of color with a bag or shoes. I would have some jewelry (maybe a triple strand of long pearls?), but there doesn't seem to be any jewelry on Piperlime. So alas, here is my submission!

Find me on Polyvore

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Improvised Cooking

Last week our gas was turned off. We first noticed that something was wrong when our central air stopped working. The next night I attempted to cook dinner, only to find that the sweet potatoes I put in the oven for 45 minutes were still hard and not hot to the touch. I then tried to turn on the stove, but the burner's wouldn't light. I started screaming (because that is a good way to make the stove work) and at that point AJ figured out that our gas was not working.

For the last two months we sent a check for the gas bill to our landlord because initially she was unable to close her account and we were unable to open a new one because her name is not on the account and her husband is deployed. Well apparently the gas company finally closed it, but no one informed us. Awesome.

Luckily the weather has cooled down quite a bit and not having central air isn't a big deal. The cooking aspect, however, initially resulted in a lot of eating out. The night we figured out the gas was off we ordered pizza, the next night we ate at Zaytinya (which was absolutely delicious, BTW...and we got to see Mike Isabella from Top Chef!) with my parents, and Saturday night we ate a Mexican restaurant. I guess Friday doesn't count since we were with my parents and we would have gone out anyway...but, still. We rarely eat out three nights in row and I wasn't about to make the streak longer.

So I improvised....

Sunday: I pulled out the crock pot and made salsa chicken tacos. This is the easiest crock pot recipe known to (wo)man. Put a few chicken breasts in with enough salsa to cover the chicken, add a few dashes of chili powder or taco seasoning, and cook it on high for 4-6 hours. As the chicken starts to cook you break it down into shreds with a fork. We used the leftover tortillas from our Chipotle night and added some cheese for an easy meal.

Monday: We made burgers on the grill and paired it with rice pilaf cooked in the microwave. I was also going to steam some asparagus with balsamic vinegar in a Ziploc Zip 'n Steam bag, but the Asparagus was bad.

Tuesday: Thanks to a suggestion from Sara I made Greek salads (lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onions, feta, and olives) with pre-cooked chicken that I heated in the microwave. Last night I also cooked ground turkey in a frying pan on the grill in preparation for today's meal. It took a lot longer to cook the turkey than it normally does on the stove, but it worked...and that is all that matters!

Tonight: Using the ground turkey I cooked last night, AJ is making crock pot chili. I merged a few recipes and decided to use two cans of diced tomatoes, one can of tomato sauce, one can of kidney beans, one can of chili beans, and 2 tablespoons of chili powder. Nom nom nom. This will be our first chili of the fall/winter season!

Our gas is supposed to be turned on this morning, so hopefully I can get back to normal cooking in the coming days!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Homemade Chipotle

After moving to DC last spring and discovering the amazingness that is Chipotle, I have been hooked. I would eat it every day if I could. Unfortunately, there is not one within walking distance of our new home and there is not one within driving distance of my school. This makes me very sad. Today I seriously considered getting on the beltway at lunch time to drive the 10 miles there and back on my 30 minute lunch break. Unfortunately, that is NOT possible.

So what is a good problem solver to do? Find a way to make my own Chipotle, of course!

I found this recipe for the special Chipotle rice on RecipeZaar.com:

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lime

Directions

  1. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted.
  2. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. (Some people have had success with 1 cup of water, but when I've made it with 2 it worked for me).
  4. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
  5. Add in the cilantro and fluff rice with a fork.
I used a little more than 2 tablespoons of lime juice because I wanted to really be able to taste the lime. I also used 1 cup of long grain rice and 2 cups of water because that is what the directions on the back of the rice said. The rice was still a little undone, so I am guessing that can be fixed by adding a tad more water next time? Not sure....this is the first time I made rice that wasn't instant.

Doesn't it look just like the real stuff? It tasted exactly like it too!

(Excuse my dirty stove)

As for the rest of the burrito ingredients....

I made black beans for me and chicken for AJ. The black beans were easy. I opened a can and dumped them into the pan. Voila!

For the chicken I used Perdue Short Cuts. I heated the chicken strips in a pan for a few minutes, chopped them in my handy Slap Chop wannabe, returned it to the pan, and added a dash or ten of chipotle powder and cayenne pepper. AJ likes his food SPICY.
To top off the burritos I bought the traditional fare....pre-made of course. Wholly Guacamole might be my favorite guac ever because it tastes homemade. I like Sarah's Salsa because it is chunky and more similar to pico de gallo than traditional salsa. And the cheese....well, it is just Harris Teeter Mexican blend cheese. Sometimes a girl has got to be frugal! I bought tortillas as well, but apparently I didn't take a picture of them. The tortilla was the one thing that was noticeably different than what you get at Chipotle. It was much thicker and I couldn't figure out a way to steam it like they do in Chipotle. Oh well.
The whole process was kind of time consuming and way more expensive than buying two burritos at Chipotle since I had to buy normal size packages of all the ingredients. However, it was totally worth it. The burritos tasted very similar to the real thing. Also, we are big Mexican cuisine lovers in this house so I will surely use up the leftover ingredients.

Here is my finished product! If only I knew how to roll the burrito....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hello, Strangers!

I always forget how crazy the first couple weeks of school can be. I am finally starting to settle into a schedule (although I am pretty sure I will never get used to work starting at 7:15) so I am planning to be back and in action later this week.

To be honest though, I am in a new school this year and am apprehensive about accessing my blog on the school's network. This is actually quite silly, because I have accessed my google reader a few times, which is kind of tied to my blog, and I have even pulled up a few of your blogs and commented with my blogger account. Also, I accessed my blog all the time last year, and technically it is the same network even though I am in a different school. So I guess it is just me being crazy, but still...I only want to dip in one toe at a time. Bear with me, please!

I hope you are all doing well and I look forward to getting back into the swing of things soon! I am going to hit the dreaded "Mark All as Read" button because I just don't see myself catching up with all your lovely blogs in the next couple of days. Let me know if I have missed something noteworthy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

California Vacay

Here are the rest of the highlights from our trip to California!

Friday morning we were jet lagged so we woke up at 5:45 and watched the sunrise on the beach. It was so pretty and was a perfect way to start the day.


The plan for the rest of the day was to hitch a ride down to Long Beach with AJ's parents. They ended up needing take his grandparents, so we decided to rent a car and take a fun little road trip. And that is exactly what we did....we drove from Pismo Beach to Long Beach with just a map. We were so tired the night before that we didn't charge either of our cell phones so we had no phones, no internet, no GPS. It was such an adventure!


We decided to go inland and stop at a winery we found somewhere in Santa Barbara county (I think near you, Chiada) and while we were there Alson got a call from one of the law firms in my hometown and was offered a summer associate position for next summer!! So then we hit up four more wineries in the Santa Ynez Valley to celebrate! Don't worry, we shared tastings to avoid a DUI. How happy does my husband look?!


We also ate lunch at one of the wineries that doubles as a culinary school. We shared a wood fired pizza and it was delicious.


Once we hit the coast again we took the Pacific Coast Highway down through Malibu and Santa Monica. So beautiful!


Saturday morning we woke up and went to a bar at 9 am so that we could watch the ECU game. We're hardcore like that! Luckily the bar caters to the east coast football crowd and had mimosa specials all morning. It was a lot of fun. I'm so excited for football season!

Sunday we went to the beach and did a lot of walking. We also had some fun playing in the sand.


In the afternoon we went to the harbor area for lunch.










That night was the "reception" which was more like a beach party. It was very casual, but it was very close to the ocean so it made for an amazing atmosphere.


So that concludes my California trip recap. It was definitely nice to get away!