Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012!

You will not be missed. 

I am not going to do the recap of 2012 because I really didn't blog all that much and honestly I am more than ready to bid so long sucker to 2012.
I'm not implying that the year was all lows.
It wasn't. I made a lot of good memories from this year and I definitely learned a lot about myself, maybe I'll do a post about that sometime.

But, like my mom said in her post today, looking back on this year "everything has been painted over with a watercolor sadness that I could not escape." For our family, for me personally, and really just for the world in general, from the way I see it, this was a  hard year. Just being real.
I know that at the stroke of midnight everything will not magically feel right and good. But 2012 is wrung out of energy and I am ready for a new year, another chance for a fresh start in 2013.
So tonight I will be welcoming the New Year at home with some friends, a few too many dips, and some champagne of course. And it will be a celebration, gosh darn it, because 2012 has not defeated me!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Pajama Picture on the Stairs

It makes me so nostalgic to think back to the time when without a doubt in my mind I knew that Santa was coming on Christmas Eve and I'd go to bed with butterflies in my stomach, giddy with anticipation. Willing myself to fall asleep but hoping to hear him land on our roof.  And at the crack of dawn sister and I would tip-toe into our parents room to wake them up. Then we'd impatiently wait on the stairs while the adults took their sweet time. Brushed their teeth, made coffee, showered?

"Can we come downstairs yet? 
Come onnn you guys... Did Santa come??!"

Dad would set up the tri-pod and we'd take an exasperated picture (or dozen) on the stairs. (Mom posted more about the origin of this tradition here.) And only after that was done could we could enter the living room and wide-eyed see our stockings laid out (always with a candy cane that I'd eat immediately and a clementine), brimming with presents, and the path to the tree congested with gifts. There would be an empty plate of cookies and a letter from Santa that we'd read aloud with excitement.

Barbies and baby dolls and dress ups and I remember there was one year when I was really excited about my very own pack of gum.

This past Christmas morning we awoke to a world dusted white.
It was a quieter morning than Christmases past. Just us four. And that was okay with me.

We still took the traditional Christmas morning-sitting on the stairs in our pjs- picture and then I immediately ate a candy cane. That hasn't changed. We stretched out the stocking opening, then enjoyed our traditional Christmas breakfast (sausage and egg casserole) before moving on to the presents under the tree.

Smaller, quieter, slower but still filled with joy and thankfulness and excitement, still the same traditions I love that we've had every childhood Christmas I can remember.

To my parents I'm still, and always will, be their child.  They still spoil me and give me more than I expect or deserve. They still tend to make Christmas about us "kids", even without Santa (although mom still uses "From: Santa" on some of her gift tags).

And yet, Christmas at this age looks a little different.
I feel like I'm in an in-between stage of Christmases that occurs when there are no littles in the house. I still make a Christmas list for my parents but Sister and I, as we are technically "young adults," now also contribute to the Christmas gifting and I love picking out the perfect gift and watching them open it.

One day I know it will become all about our children and watching them experience the wonder of a Christmas morning. Is there anything more precious then Christmas through the eyes of a babe? 

And Christmases will include spouses, nieces, nephews and in-laws. And again it will look different. But I hope it still includes the picture on the stairs, this time with me behind the camera.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

You can still say that, you know. Even if it is 2 days after Christmas.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas holiday! Since I didn't post on the day, or any day this week so far, I thought I'd pop in.

 My parents and sister dropped me off at the Amtrak station last night and I had to drag my bags home and set an alarm and put on something other than Christmas pajamas this morning and come to work today. Not cool.

I am so thankful that I got to go home, though. And the break was wonderful and as peaceful as any family gathering could be.

I feel like the build up to the holidays drags and then when it finally arrives it just flies by. But we still managed to squeeze a lot of fun into the few days I was home.

Including a trip to the Big Apple.
We bundled up to take in all the lights. There is nothing like NYC at Christmas time to put you in the holiday spirit!You know who does Christmas lights right? Harry Winston! Their lights looked like giant diamonds! How can a girl resist?

After becoming sufficiently frozen we headed to dinner at Bobby Flay's restaurant, Bar Americain. It was seriously delicious. Everything we ordered was perfect and the only thing that would have made dinner any better is an appearance from Bobby himself. My mom, sister and I all tweeted our precise location and tried to draw him to our table. But sadly no luck.

I seriously indulged this trip. We enjoyed Indian food, a family favorite, the following night and then the yummiest steaks with mushrooms and brussel sprouts and my favorite salad on Christmas Eve.

Of course all of these meals are accompanied by an inappropriate amount of cookies. And buttercreams...they're as sinful and delicious as they sound.

(These cookies... not for Santa.)

Following dinner (and before the cookies) we headed to the candlelight service at church. I absolutely love candlelight services. There is something so beautiful to witness an entire congregation singing Silent Night in that flickering glow. Made even more wondrous by the pretty snowfall that greeted us when we left.
On Christmas Eve we always get to open 1 present and it's always new pjs. After donning those we settled down to watch A Christmas Story before heading upstairs to sleep in heavenly peace. 

This recap is getting long so I'll end it here. More Christmas blessings and thoughts on celebrating Christmas at this "stage in life" to come.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Grandma Sally's Cranberry Bread

# 66 on my list of 101 in 1001 is- Make cranberry bread for the neighbors at Christmas. It also ties in with #69 which is- Learn the names of my neighbors.  We're still working on that.

I only had time to make 4 loaves of cranberry bread, one of which my roommates and I enjoyed and one that I brought to work to share today. So that left only two loaves to give to my immediate left and right neighbors (of course I forgot to do that before I left today so they're chilling in the freezer and will be given as New Years treats instead).

We always have cranberry bread at Christmas and my mom used to  make it for Sister and I to give to our teachers growing up.  I called up my Grandma to get her recipe and it's so easy I'm sharing it below:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp melted shortening
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped nuts ( I used pecans because that's what I had)
1 cup sugar
chopped rind of 1 orange ( I did a combination of rind and zest)
1 egg-beaten
1 cup cut cranberries
1. Sift together all dry ingredients.
2. Add beaten egg, melted shortening, orange juice (I also added a splash of cranberry juice) and hot water.
3. Combine until dry ingredients are moistened.
4. Fold in nuts, cranberries and orange rind.
5. Bake in greased 8 1/2 loaf pan ( or two 5 1/2 in pans ) at 350 degrees for about 1 hour and 10 mins.
6. Cool and wrap in foil or saran and place in refrigerator for 24 hrs.

I doubled the recipe and made 4 smaller loaves.  I found these so cute paper loaf pans with coordinating cellophane, ribbon and labels (courtesy of Martha Stewart, duh, at A.C Moore).

(If using paper pans be sure to place them on a baking sheet first)

The yummiest holiday gift!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Twas the "Hodgepodge" Before Christmas

I'm linking up for the holiday edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge over at my mom's blog.  Click below to share your answers as well!

1.How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?
This year will be a a little quieter for our family, which actually sounds lovely right now. It will be just the parents, my sister and I. We'll have a yummy dinner, open new pajamas to wear, snuggle up on the couch, read "The Night Before Christmas," maybe watch a Christmas movie and I'll probably eat a few too many cookies and buttercreams. Can't Wait!

2. What is something you are not?
I am not a confident driver...

3. Fudge-are you a fan? Your favorite flavor?
Oh yes, but it's something I rarely have around to eat. Rocky Road is my favorite and I just saw this recipe over at The Vanilla Tulip (which you make in the microwave-what?) and it look super yummy and I definitely want to try.

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December? Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?
The law firm where I work actually hosted a Crafts Fair at the beginning of the month
 and as one of the event planners I had a stall. (See full post here.)  I love homemade gifts and am always impressed by what people can do with their own two hands. Are baked goodies considered "homemade" gifts? I'm scrambling to cross off #66 from my 101 List, Make homemade cranberry bread for the neighbors, and will hopefully be posting about that soon!

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?
Big family celebrations.
Full of noise and  hugs from grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
A big meal, and Christmas music playing.
Stories and laughter.
And lots of dishes.
Followed by cookies and milk in front of the fireplace.
Surrounded by the comfort and coziness and warmth.

6. We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?
Oh  boy... so many things, I hope. I am so dog-gone ready to say goodbye to 2012.

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanskgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus."  ~ Philippians 4:6-7

8. Just wanted to share this lovely photo from the last Young Life club of 2012 with two of my favorite people! For the record the goal was to look really awkward. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Weary World...Rejoices

Christmas is still coming. Even in these dark days filled with the grief of so many parents and families. Christmas, full of Hope and the promise of salvation.  Born in the darkness of night. And we so desperately need it. This year, oh Lord, this year has been too much.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices...

I think I better understand those words after this year. What it means to pine- for heaven, for a better home because clearly this world is not where we belong. My worth is not found here; my soul finds it's worth only in Jesus. Everything else is fleeting.

Be near me Lord Jesus

I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children 
In Thy tender care, 
And fit us for heaven 
To live with Thee there. 

God lost His only child once. He sent Him into this broken world. And unlike the parents in CT who sent their sweet angels to school that day, God knew full well the cruelty, the trials and the death that awaited Jesus.

And evil shows up in a kindergarten classroom, or a hospital, and rears it's disgusting ugly head and raises the impossible question - Why?

Why these children? 

Why those teachers?

Why Anna?

And these days are dark and the tears flow freely and the grip of evil seems to tighten and wants to squeeze all the joy out of this holiday season and out of our hearts. And the words from these Christmas carols bring me to my knees in sorrow.

But in this sorrow, broken, weak words of thanks and praise escape my heart and my lips. Because I don't think I've ever felt the presence of God more, been more sure of His promises that morn shall tearless be.

There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still. 

In this pit of sadness do you feel the thrill of hope when you realize that death has been already defeated? By a God who loves us and left His throne for us. A God who knows our "why's" and our sufferings and longs to take it all away.

He answers us with Jesus.

And this war is already won, darkness just doesn't know it yet!

Monday, December 10, 2012

We Decked the Halls!

I have helped decorate a total of 3 Christmas trees, in 3 different houses this year. At Thanksgiving we put up our family tree with my parents. Then my roommates and I went crazy with Christmas decor. And the other weekend I joined my aunt and uncle and my two cousins putting up their tree.
Above are pictures of the tree my roommates and I put up (covered in my ballet ornaments), one of my favourite ornaments on my parent's tree, and the start of a homemade popcorn and cranberry garland. Turns out it's a lot more tedious than I remember and I only made one strand... oh well, it's still adds a vintage-y touch that I love! (If you want to try it yourself, all you need is day-old popcorn, whole cranberries, wax dental floss, a needle and a lot of time and patience)

Below are a few more snapshots of the other festive touches around the house:
We hung the NOEL banner that I made for our family's Christmas card over our living room entry. I just used green and plaid card stock and then printed out the letters and attached a fun pom pom ribbon! I love seeing it when I walk into the house.

I also love seeing JOY displayed on the bookshelf/catch-all/ mantel substitute right by the front door. Both words remind me to be always joyful during this season! 

We didn't have a wreath this year but I love our big bow- our house looks like a present! I love seeing every one's holiday decorations, and I just love how happy and homey my house feels with the Christmas tree in the front window. Plus, my roommates and I had such a fun time decorating!! 

I linked up at Kelly's Korner and the Thrifty Decor Chick.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Crafty Gifting & Giving

Every year the Firm where I work hosts a huge Holiday Party that is also a fundraising opportunity. This year funds raised will go to help the still suffering victims of Hurricane Sandy. My manager and I have had so much fun planning the party (which is on Tuesday, gah!) and the all fundraising events leading up to the big event!  Yesterday one of the events was a crafts market. We turned the events department (aka my manager's office into Santa's workshop).  For our table we looked to Pinterest and Anthropolgie for inspiration. 

Homemade Snow Globes:
Assemble the following items: super glue, glitter, mason jars, mini tree figurines, distilled water, liquid glycerin (found at a craft store or in the laxative? aisle at the drug store).

Glue the tree to the lid of the jar, let it dry, fill the jar with the glitter, water and a couple drops of liquid glycerin (which lets the glitter fall slower). Seal the jar tight, I went around the lid with hot glue to seal any cracks so no water leaks. Wrap with a big bow, then rip it open, shake it up and set it on your desk to make the cube a little cheerier.

Tile Coasters:
You'll need as many plain tiles as you want coasters (only 15 cents at Home Depot), mod-podge, scrapbook paper, small felt pads, clear acrylic sealer spray.

Cut out your squares of paper. The size we did was 4x4 inches (we chose to leave a small boarder so some of the tile was still visible on top). Mod-podge the paper onto the tile, use a couple coats, let dry.  Add felt pads to bottom corners of tiles. Spray with acrylic sealer. Tie up with a pretty ribbon. 
Now, I don't want to brag... but our table was the most popular and we sold every last one of them! They make the perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer and we raised almost $500 for Hurricane Sandy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

15 Minutes

I wanted to do a quick recap of my weekend at Young Life Camp. It was amazing- there is nothing sweeter than watching eyes and hearts be opened to the love and awesomeness of Jesus. It was also just a blast- sometimes I know I have more fun than my high school friends.

I have tried in numerous blog posts to sum up how amazing Young Life camp is (see here, here).  I've decided it's impossible, it cannot be explained with words- it has to be experienced. I so wish every high schooler (and really just everyone) could experience the joy of camp. I'm still riding my camp high and trying to stay in that world where everyone says hi to you as you walk around camp. Where you can dance like a fool and sing at the top of your lungs and not get weird looks, most of the time. Where there is freedom to be who you truly are not the person you present to the outside world. Where Jesus is just there waiting for you to take His hand and live a better life with Him.

One of my favorite parts of camp comes on the second night after the speaker has just shared the story of the cross, some of the kids hearing it for the first time, or hearing for the hundredth time but with fresh ears. At the end of the talk he asks for the entire camp (close to 500 high schoolers ) to leave the "club room" silently and find a place outside to sit alone for 15 minutes. All the lights in the camp are off, the stars are out, you can see your breath, and miraculously not a single person makes a sound. 15 whole minutes, just you and God. I can look around and see kids scattered across the camp, in the big field, on the sidewalks, balled up to stay warm or lying flat on their backs eyes fixed on the night sky. Totally silent. And  my God is having a personal conversation with each person whose heart is crying out to Him.

Anywho, I'll leave you with that for now. I'm heading up to my parents after work today.  I'm ready to hang out with my family, catch up on the sleep I missed over the weekend, eat way too much, spend a few days in my yoga pants, and snuggle with my dog.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pre-Camp Target Trip

I'm heading to camp this weekend for Young Life Winter Weekend!! So I had a few things I needed to pick up for the trip and for my cabin. Plus I'll take any excuse I can to go to Target. I have to have a specific purpose in mind when I go to Target, I can't just go for no reason at all, or bad things happen to my wallet.

One thing I annoyingly needed was a sleeping bag. Every time I'm at my parents house I forget to grab one of mine and bring it back with me.  Can you return a sleeping bag after using it for a weekend? Eww... I hope no one did that with the one I bought....

I also wanted to load up on some junk food for the cabin.  I probably should have eaten dinner before going shopping because I was feeling a little wild in the snack food aisle.

Of course before I went looking for the actual items I intended to buy, I stopped in the clothing section (which is right at the front of the store making it impossible to skip) and ended trying on about 20 different things. In the end I restrained myself and ended up with only one really cute sweater, plus a turquoise thermal (I needed that for this weekend of course) and some boot socks.  Oh and a really shiny 2013 day planner that I'm obsessed with. And even though I never used the 2012 I bought (still sitting under a pile on my desk) I am definitely going to use this one and be super organized!

I think the cashier either thought I was a 10-yr old, whose mom had let her come into the store alone, or a teen mom judging by the amount of lunch-box-worthy food in my cart. And did I forget to mention the extra box of Milk Duds I was snacking on.... You'll notice they're not shown in the picture of my purchases below because, well, I ate them all. Judge away.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Monday

I was so good this morning. I got up the first time my alarm went off. I had time to wash blow-dry and style my hair, and enjoy a cup of tea. It was quiet and slow, I took my time. I packed up a little bag with a Tupperware of the cookies I'd made over the weekend, plus a yogurt and a couple clementines to take to work.

The metro parking lot was surprisingly empty and I pulled right in to a close spot (this should have been the first warning). I swiped my metro card and as soon as I'm through the gate I see it.  The signs, the hoards of people waiting for the metro....

Single-tracking/ track work. It ruins commuters' mornings.

Annoyed that I didn't know about this until after I was through the turnstile, I proceed to wait, for 40 minutes for a train and send hostile tweets to Metro. Then with the help of a stranger I finally shoved myself onto the first crowded train that I could. Of course only then did I realize I left the cookies and my breakfast in the car.

Another 40 minutes later (spent practically sitting in a strangers lap with my face smushed into someone else's backpack) I arrived at my stop and hoofed it to the office. Sometimes the metro makes me just want to give up and call in sick. And even though I have the same mess to look forward to on the commute home, I will not let this delay dampen the rest of my day..

Instead I will leave you with a picture of my yummy cookies that I left sitting in the front seat of my car. (Hopefully they survive.)

I want to make these to take home at Thanksgiving so I decided to try out the recipe this weekend to see how they turn out.  To make these pretties I combined two Pinterest recipes: these Spiced Linzer Cookies, and this Pumpkin Pie Filling. It was a little time consuming since the dough has to refrigerate for at least two hours and the filling takes an hour to bake and then has to cool for another two hours. Plus those tiny cut-outs are finicky. So I made the dough on Friday and whipped everything else up yesterday.

All the effort was worth it though because they seriously taste like a bite of pumpkin pie! The perfect treat to gift or enjoy yourself this holiday!

P.S. I got the adorable linzer cookie cutters from Amazon, here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happy Election Day

We voted! Have you??
(Now I can check on #62 on my 101 list!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Afternoon Tea

This weekend, a very dear friend came to town to play. She got in Thursday evening and stayed in the city with our other shared friend. I met up with them Friday after work at my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Centro DF. Seriously if you live anywhere near D.C. and you've never been, go tonight! We enjoyed margaritas on the roof-top bar while we waited for our table. Then I chowed down on guacamole made table-side followed by the Baja Tacos, which is what I always get and highly recommend. Of course, any meal is made better when you've got this girl in town to enjoy it with you!!
After dinner I headed home but I turned right around on Saturday and headed back into the city with a weekend bag in tow. We laid around for a bit before dressing up and bundling up and heading out for afternoon tea at The Willard. Very view places still offer afternoon tea (this side of the pond) and they only offer it from October through the holiday season.

Please notice that I distinctly said "afternoon tea" and not "high tea". Here's a  history lesson for you: afternoon tea was enjoyed by the upper/leisure class between 3-5pm, it was served with delicate sandwiches and scones and pastries.  High tea, also known as "meat tea" because it usually included heartier foods liked sliced meats and cold cuts, was enjoyed mostly by the working class between 5-7pm.  Afternoon tea is to Downton Abbey, what high tea is to The Kardashians, just kidding.

We had a fun time saying "that is so high tea of you" every time the conversation took a less than classy turn... which was pretty frequent.

Anywho... afternoon tea at the Willard is a purely indulgent way to spend three hours on a Saturday and a good time was had by all.

Tea was followed by sweat pants and a nap and which was followed by delicious take out Thai food. Here is where, lately, most of my weekends end. Take out food and movies on the couch in my sweat pants, and going to bed early is what I excel at these days.

But this weekend was different. This weekend I changed out of my sweat pants and into "going-out" clothes and then actually headed back out!! We went to an actual party and then an actual bar and I wasn't tired or cranky. And my feet didn't hurt and I danced, A LOT, and I stayed out and had a blast. Maybe it was having college friends in town, maybe it was the extra hour, I don't know, but whatever it was, I enjoyed the break from my quiet weekend rut.

Sunday we lounged around before settling on Logan Tavern for Bloody Mary's and brunch. Because what girl's weekend is complete without Sunday brunch?

Hope everyone had an equally enjoyable weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Extended Weekend/ Halloween

So Sandy came and went and I fortunately don't have any interesting stories to report. We were bracing for a hard couple days, stocking up on junk food and ice and batteries and candles, expecting to lose power at any minute... and, for us at least, it ended up being nothing more than 2 extra days off of work.

The wind picked up, and  the metro, the government and  work was cancelled for Monday and eventually Tuesday.  We turned the heat up, put on movies, played scattegories and enjoyed all three of us being home together at the same time, for the entire day (apparently all it takes is a hurricane to make that happen). The power teased us and flickered and we scrambled around the kitchen to whip up hot food for dinner, sure I would be mid-egg scrambling when it finally gave up. But even though we saw a transformer explode behind our house we were lucky and didn't lose power once. (My parents were  not so lucky... fortunately, or hopefully, they're getting out of town and escaping South as soon as possible.)

At some point, I don't know how or why, but we ended up on Youtube watching 90's music videos and singing like crazy people to O-Town and Natalie Imbruglia and then learning how to do the wobble and trying out this crazy zumba work out. Like you do when you've been stuck inside on the couch for 2 days...

So yesterday I was back to work and totally loving that the week was already half over! I completely forgot it was Halloween for most of the day. Sadly no one dresses up at my office...

But I came home from work and got in the spirit. I moved the pumpkins we'd stored inside during the storm to the front steps, lit some seasonally appropriate candles, opened a bag of candy corn and hung my cute trick-or-treat sign on the front door.
I re-heated left over Indian food and got caught up on the new episodes of The Walking Dead (my newest TV obsession which seemed appropriate for the holiday) while handing out candy.  Pretty quiet but good Halloween in my books.

I can't believe the week is almost over. I'm looking forward to the weekend (already) and hanging out with a college bestie who gets into town tonight!

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shannon Shares

I've been inspired by Blue Eyed Bride's 31 Days of Back to Basics Blogging and I've been reminded that this blog is for me and I can write about whatever I want. I want to remember this time in my life and so I'm just going to share about my day (even if it's dull) and my heart and see what happens.

Last  night I had Young Life club. For any other Young Life leaders out there, here's what we sang:

1. Some Nights- Fun
2. Everybody Talks- Neon Trees
3. Sweet Caroline-Neil Diamond
4. Chicken Fried- Zac Brown Band (we change the lyrics "cold beer on a Friday night" to "Young Life on a Monday night")
5. Who Do You Say That I Am

I found out that we are going to Frontier Ranch for camp this summer. It's in Colorado and I never get to go since it's usually impossible to take off a week+ from work. But I've decided THIS is the summer I'm going and I'm taking all my high school friends with me! It's pretty pointless to already be getting excited about summer when the last one is just ending... but y'all... Young Life camp is a whole other story! Fortunately I have weekend camp coming up next month to tide me over.

I get home from Young Life around 10:30 most Monday nights and while the debate was still going on I decided not to get into it. It's too late to get all worked up. So instead I chatted with some of my girlfriends and went through 1000+ photos from the wedding I was in over the summer. I've literally been stalking the photographers blog, waiting for her to post them online and was getting a little impatient.

I have about a dozen I'd like to print and frame for myself. I need more pictures of my friends and I post-college.

I so missed out on seeing these girls at homecoming this weekend. I cannot get enough of them and I really need to plan a trip down South to visit them, or move in with them, or something...

I am so bad at concluding my posts and coming up with little witty endings or signs offs. So I'm not going to bother with that this time! Really that's all I want to share for now.  Have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Feelings

It's fall which means there is beauty and inspiration every where even if it's lacking from my blog. Friday was a wash-out. After work I ran to the metro in a down pour, but this is what greeted me as I got off my stop:
A picture perfect symbol for me of God's promises of good things to come after a storm. There is beauty and glory in the bright, blazing fall colors that signal the death of summer and the coming winter.
Fall for me also signals that it's time for me to catch a cold. Seriously, without fail I get sick every October. And this weekend was no different.  On Saturday morning I ventured out into the crisp air and the sunshine and headed to a ballet class at the new studio I've been trying out and loving. I left feeling happy and refreshed and alive- the power of ballet- but by the time I got home and showered my body said no more! You're done!

This weekend was homecoming at my university but I had decided that the flights this year were too high to make it worth the short trip.  I guess my cold came at the right time, because if I'd been healthy I would have definitely missed being there even more. Instead my weekend was spent either in bed or on the couch with a cup of tea and blankets and movies and Tylenol and self-pity.

And before I knew it, Monday was back again- it's annoyingly reliable like that. Tonight I have Young Life club to look forward to and more ballet classes this week, so I will not be letting my cold ruin this week or my favorite season!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


(Click over to link up your answers)

1. In what ways do you indulge yourself?

I love to take long hot baths. Unfortunately I do not have a tub, only a shower. And as the weather is getting colder and nothing feels better than sitting in the tub, reading on listening to music or just being quiet, this is becoming a real problem. I'll just have to wait till I'm home at Thanksgiving to indulge. In the mean time I love laying on the couch and reading or popping in a favorite movie with a big bowl of popcorn and a coke. 

2. Have you ever taken a cooking class? Any interest? What class would you most like to try?
See my post from yesterday on the Soup Workshop I just took. It was so much fun and I would definitely want to take more. If you are in the D.C. area, CulinAerie has some awesome classes on the calendar this month if your interested: sweet and savory fall tarts and pies,  a curry workshop, a couples class on Thai food, and another called "Autumn in Normandy" that sound delicious.

3. What does it mean to be a good citizen?
Caring about your country, exercising your right to vote (there is no excuse people!), being kind and considerate to others.

4. 'Tis the season of the political these ads influence your vote?
Not at all. For starters, my vote hasn't really been a question mark and I feel pretty informed and convinced of my political beliefs. Also, those ads are just nasty and both sides tend to contradict each other and cancel each other out. I don't think anyone should put much stock in them and I wish the candidates wouldn't waste so much time and money on them. I can't wait for them to be off the TV.

5. What's something you see today that makes you wish you were a kid again?
I saw this link posted on facebook and was instantly thrown back into 5th grade, not that I want to go back but it reminded me of some fond memories. I also just finished re-reading the entire Harry Potter series again, don't judge, and I miss all the make believe and imaginative games I used to play for hours and hours with my sister and friends as a kid. So care free.

6. What's your least favorite cliche?
"No offense, but [insert offensive comment here.]" I'm not sure that really counts as a cliche but people do that all the time, say something offensive or off-color and then add "no offense, though." Um, yeah right!

7. What percentage of your Christmas shopping is complete? How does that make you feel?
0%. I'm not too worried though because I have started working on my shopping list. Don't let the early display of Christmas decorations in the shops alarm you. Christmas is still over 2 months away...wait is that it??!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Columbus Day (and #36)

Happy Columbus Day, yesterday! What? You mean you didn't celebrate?

I was one of the lucky folks whose office closed and basically all weekends should be 3-days long. I spent all Monday out where I lead Young Life and got to hang out with one of my favorite senior girls.  We went to Chipotle for lunch and then ended up at her house playing with her puppy for an hour. Since I didn't feel like driving back and forth before Club that evening I killed about 6 hours at Panera.  It was such a nice relaxing day and I got a little taste of what being a full-time leader would be like.

Anywho, it was a nice 3 day weekend in which I really didn't do a whole lot.

I did, however, get to cross off number #36, take a cooking class, from my list.  My friend and I went to a Soup Workshop at CulinAerie downtown. It was my first time taking a cooking class and I was unsure how it would be set up or what to expect but I was not disappointed.

There were only about 20 people in the class and everyone had their own work top. The instructor's station had a camera pointed on it that would project onto tv's hanging from the ceiling so you could get a up-close look at what she was doing.

I of course was a little distracted by all the different characters in the room, like the eager woman in front of me who was like 10 steps ahead of everyone, including the instructor. Or the adorable father and son pair behind me, how sweet is that? I definitely want to take another class one day with my mom and sister!

(My cooking station, yes there was wine and not just in the recipe.)
After learning about the different kinds of soups out there and the basics of making our own stock, we made 4 different soups:  French Onion, Sweet Potato with Maple and Bacon, Corn and Crab Chowder and Shrimp Bisque. 
(Let the onions sweat and soften before increasing the heat to brown them.)
French Onion soup is one of my favorite foods of all time and I'm so glad I know how to make it myself now. The only one I wasn't a fan of was the Shrimp Bisque, too shrimpy. In addition to all those recipes we got 3 more for quick breads to serve with soup: corn bread, cheddar pecan scones and rosemary focaccia.
(Yummy Corn & Crab Chowder which we insisted on calling "chowdah" | My cooking buddy and I with our finished Sweet Potato soup.)

The family said I could serve french onion soup at Thanksgiving in the adorable pumpkin tureens my mom bought from Pottery Barn, just like the pioneers did!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Harvest

Thought I would post a couple shots from the "Wine and Cheese" event we hosted at the firm yesterday- the same event that I dragged hay bales into the office for.  We do these about once a month or so and last night's was a fall/harvest theme naturally. I am sure plenty of you are breaking out the autumnal decorations in your house and maybe thinking of hosting a soiree celebrating this wonderful time of year. 
For the center of the buffet I used my brown table runner that is embroidered with leaves. I borrowed my roommate's glass cake stand and arranged varying autumnal shades of red and orange candles and mini pumpkins on it. At the base I displayed bundles of Indian Corn. 
My favorite part was the menu cards. I took the idea from pinterest (where else?) and displayed the cards in pine cones.

Now for the menu:
Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts

Roasted Turkey Slider on a Cranberry Muffin 
with Sour Apple Aioli 

Au Poivre Beef Medallions 
with Cranberry Port Sauce

Warm Onion Souffle 

Miniature Flatbread Pizze 
with Caramelized Apples, Onions & Goat Cheese

After all that work I didn't even remember to take a picture of the hay bales which I stacked haphazardly with larger pumpkins (don't ask me how I got those to the office) around the columns at the entrance to the room. I decided to leave them at the office because 3 metro rides was enough. But my commute home was still quite interesting as I carted home two large pumpkins, all the candles, the table runner and cake stand.

I've become something of a bag lady this week.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5 D.C Food Trucks: Part 2

I wrote about the first 2 food trucks I tried here and I want to write my reviews of the other 3 out of 5 before the weather gets too cold and you can't enjoy them any more!

3. Stella's Popkern: Popcorn is hands down one of my favorite foods. I often just eat a big bowl of it for dinner. I never go to the movies and not get popcorn.  This all adds up to a very excited me when I discovered the popcorn food truck! They have a ton of different flavors, plus a mystery flavor every day: {Caramel, Salty Caramel (my favorite), Chocolate Drizzle dusted with Sea Salt, Clarified Butter with Brazilian Sea Salt, Zesty White Cheddar Cheese, Zesty White Cheddar sprinkled with Old Bay, Basil Infused Olive Oil with Ginger Sea Salt }

4. Surfside: This truck is the mobile version of the Glover Park restaurant and it's equally delicious. I had the grilled fish tacos with guacamole, black bean and corn  salsa and lime sour cream. Plus it comes with rice. I was a little nervous about fish tacos from a truck but they were so yummy, I would definitely get them again.  They also have chicken or beef barbacoa and you can do tacos or burritos or burrito bowls.

5. Chick Fil- A: It wasn't a huge stretch for them since it's fast food to begin with but there are some differences. The biggest thing you'll notice is they don't have waffle fries (or any fries for that matter)!! That was a bit of a shock. Their menu is limited to either a cfa chicken sandwich or an 8 count nugget. You can add 2 sides of either cole slaw, side salad, fruit cup, chips or brownie.  Not quite the same without their fries or lemonade but it still satisfies my craving for chick fil a deliciousness.

Now I can cross of #63 on my list! If you have  favorite DC food truck that I just have to try please let me know!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What I Read in September

Last month's reads:

The Forgotten Garden- Kate Morton: this is by the same author as The House At Riverton which I read last month.  It's another mystery and it jumps around a couple of different time periods, which was a little confusing at time but it was fun figuring out the twists and turns.

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn: Are my mom and I the only ones who were totally disappointed by this book?  I really enjoyed the first half of the book and I wont give anything away but half way through there is a huge shift and everything you ever thought you knew about this book is wrong and I hated the ending!

Divergent- Veronica Roth: Part 1 of a trilogy. It's like a combination of The Hunger Games and The Giver.

Insurgent- Veronica Roth:
Part 2 of the trilogy. The 3rd book sadly doesn't come out until sometime next fall but I think movies are already in the works. Fun fact, the author is only 23!

Lightning- Dean Koontz: I've read this book a bunch of times before. It's one of my favorites. I very clearly remember my 8th grade English teacher telling me it was her favorite book. I've heard it's different from Dean Koontz's other novels, but I haven't read anything else by him so I can't vouch for that. All I know is it's this great suspenseful thriller about a woman who's life is altered by a series of strange events and I love it!

(Oh and I also re-read the first 4 Harry Potter's, working on # 5 now. I never get sick of them. hehe)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Monday

I just cannot believe it is October. I kinda let September get away from me and I wasted many days moping around inside in front of the tv doing nothing that important, unless you count catching up on the past season of Grey's Anatomy, which is partly to blame for the infrequent blogging.

But I happen to love the month of October, it's one of my favorites if not the favorite. So now that I'm all caught up on Grey's, and there are beautiful golden days ahead that I want to remember, I am returning from my unofficial blogging hiatus.  I don't have a real plan or anything particular that I want to write about but I just know I want to write.

I could write about work I suppose.  I have some fun events planned for this week like an Associate Stress Buster Carnival and a harvest-themed happy hour that requires me to lug 3 hay bales to the office for decorations.  (Don't worry, they're not needed until Wednesday so I only have to wrestle with one each morning on the metro.)

Life is... kinda complicated right now and God thinks my plans are pretty funny so I'm just trying to let go and see where He takes me and enjoy this weird phase of life.

So happy Monday! Thanks for bearing with me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Boots and Young Life

I can finally cross off # 41 on my list- buy the perfect pair of boots. I have talked about  buying boots every fall since I started this blog (2010,  2011). I've pinned boots on wish lists and every time I've decided against them or I tried them on at the store and they didn't fit my chicken legs.  But, on Friday, these beautiful boots, FRYE Jenna Inside Zip (color: Smoke), were delivered to my house! I might have to wear them every day this week...
This was a lazy weekend for me. On Saturday I cleaned my room and organized my closet. It was finally time to put away the sun dresses and shorts and break out the jeans and sweaters. Fortunately it's not quite sweater weather yet and it's wonderful being able to turn off all the AC and just have the windows open!

Sunday was a Young Life day. We had campaigners (bible study) in the afternoon then a leadership meeting in the evening. I am so excited for this year to get started! We have our first club tonight and I am pumped to meet new kids and really just go all in- football games, coffee dates, winter weekend camp, crazy clubs!  Nothing brings me more joy than Young Life.  I am just so excited to see hearts changed and the community changed because of what Jesus is doing through our silly little club. Hopefully it wont stay little for long!

I was a kinda nervous yesterday because I hadn't given much thought to the club songs . But I've decided to play two new songs tonight and I am feeling pretty good now that Payphone (Maroon5) and We Are Never Getting Back Together (T-Swift) are now permanently stuck in my head. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy birthday to my mom. Thank you for loving me and praying for me and playing backgammon with me. I am so glad I got to spend this past weekend at home with you! Hope today is as special as you are and this year is full of as many blessings as you bring to my life!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I Read in August

Last month's reads:

Beach Music- Pat Conroy: I love Pat Conroy and all his books that I've read. The Prince of Tides is one of my top ten favorites. I love how he talks about South Carolina and describes it with such poetry, he transports you to that low country. Beach Music covered such a range of stories and lifetimes not the least of which included the Holocaust, the Vietnam war and their lingering affects on the cast of characters in small town near Charleston, SC.

The Book Thief- Markus Szusak: This book had the most unusual and creative narrator, Death. He watches over the horror of the second World War paying particular interest to an girl who becomes a book thief.

Random Harvest- James Hilton: Someone left me a comment on this post reccomending this book. She said it was her's and her librarian's favorite books.

The House at Riverton- Kate Morton: The story's narrator has kept a secret from her past for her entire life. You just have got to find out what it is. Being that I am the worst secret keeper I know (maybe ever) this definitely kept me hooked. It's a period story covering the years leading up to WWI and the damaged years that followed. (Trust me, if you enjoy Downton Abbey this is right up your alley!)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larrsson: I finished the trilogy and was quite satisfied with the way everything was wrapped up.

The Hiding Place- Corrie ten Boom: Corrie ten Boom is my hero. Read this now. One of the most inspiring books I've ever read. Ever in my life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Sister

Today is my sister's 22nd birthday!
I wish I was with her today but am so glad we got to celebrate her last weekend! We went to our favorite restaurant in town, watched our favorite re-runs of Greys Anatomy and Friends and had much needed sister time.
My sister. Oh, how I love her.
Happy birthday to my best friend, my person, my soul mate.