Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekend Recap

We spent a lot of time at home this weekend - mostly because we were anticipating and then experiencing Hurricane Irene. Last week was a very eventful one for natural disasters on the East Coast :) On Friday morning, Peter and I had a little breakfast date at Starbucks before he went to work (and where I forgot to take any pictures!) and then I went to stock up on provisions before the coming storm since it was my day off of work. Oh my goodness - what a shopping adventure! I have never seen such craziness. I thought that I was going to be killed for my parking space at Trader Joes!!! Calm down, people!!! I did need to buy a few non-perishables for the storm, but I also needed to buy some things (like milk) that we just out of, but there was no milk to be had in a 10-mile radius of my apartment. I also saw that flashlights, batteries, and candles were in very short supply. It definitely pays to be prepared well ahead of any kind of  storm! Yikes!!!

On Saturday, I ran a few more short errands and then went to my friend, RAM's, house so that she could cut my hair. A hurricane might be coming, but a girl's gotta look her best, right? :) The rain started around noon, but it wasn't heavy at all and I had no problems driving home. Peter helped one of our friends from church move into his new place that morning and returned home around 2:00. From then on, we just hung out at our place - cleaning up a bit and organizing, reading (we're still working our way through all 7 Harry Potter books!), and watching baseball. We had leftovers for dinner, and then watched the British movie, Wild Target, with Bill Nighy whom I think is the bees' knees :)

(image via IMDB)

Didn't quite live up to the previews, but still had some very funny moments! We were so thankful to still have power when the movie was over around 10:00pm, and we thought that we might make it out of the storm with our electricity "intact" since it was only raining moderately and the wind wasn't fierce at all. It wasn't meant to be, however, because our power went out around 4:00 Sunday morning (Boo!).

We weren't sure if we would have church on Sunday morning or not since there were widespread power outages in our area, but we did and it was kind of neat to have Sunday School and a worship service in a semi-darkened church :) We won't let a little thing like lack of electricity stop us from praising God! I have to say that both Peter and I were a little sleepy during church, though, because we were not able to have coffee on Sunday morning.

(image via Google)

Our coffee-maker was obviously not working without electricity, and we don't keep instant coffee on hand (which is something I need to quickly remedy!). We were hoping that the church would have power and have some coffee ready and waiting, but that hope wasn't fulfilled since the church didn't have power either. So after church we embarked on a quest for coffee that took us through many intersections with non-functioning street lights (always a scary experience in our area!) and darkened shopping centers. Not a Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonalds, Panera, 7-11, etc. with power! So we returned home and drank some very strongly brewed tea instead. Not quite the same, but better than nothing :) We ate lunch, went for a LONG walk, and did a happy dance when we returned to an apartment with electricity!!! It kind of makes me sad that we're SO dependent on electricity for everything and that it dramatically changes our lives when we don't have it, but I guess that's just the way it is. I'm praying for those in our area and in other states like North Carolina and Vermont who still don't have power and who have much worse damage to deal with than we do. I just hope that we can have a quiet week with no more natural disasters!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh happy day ...

... my Erin Condren life planner just arrived :)

I was one of the unfortunate ones who had their initial orders erased in early Aug. by a malicious hacker so I had a bit of a longer wait, but it was worth it! Look at those cute gift stickers that Erin Condren threw in just cuz :)

I was disappointed, however, upon opening my package and discovering that they had made a mistake with my order. I had wanted our last name to go underneath our first names, but they had put our full name on one line instead. After contacting customer service this morning, though, they are going to reprint my planner correctly ASAP and overnight it to me with no extra charge. Not bad!

I went with the Fleur Feliz pattern in Splash and bought the matching, personalized notepads which I'm pretty darn excited about :)

I can't wait to fill up my planner scheduling fun stuff with these colorful Sharpies that I just bought at Target. Is anyone else out there a Sharpie addict  afficionado like I am?

Other bloggers (Blue-Eyed Bride, According to Nina, Sweet T Family) have given very in-depth looks at the interior of the planner and all of its awesome features so I don't think that I need to go into all of that. But I will say that it's definitely the best planner that I've ever owned, and I'm really looking forward to starting out this coming year super organized (and super stylish!).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Yesterday was kind of a crazy day!!! At 1:51pm, I was sitting at my desk at work trying to decide how to respond to an e-mail when I felt the ground start shaking. My first thought was that some of the maintenance staff were driving some big pallet movers down the corridor outside my office. When the walls of my cubicle started to shake violently, though, I quickly dismissed the pallet mover idea, had a moment of blind shock, and then decided that we were actually having an earthquake. In Maryland?! Seriously - what in the world!!! Then I wondered if I should get under my desk or run for a doorway (I'm kind of disturbed that I was weighing my options at a time like this!), decided on getting under my desk, and was just crawling under there when it stopped. All in all about 45 seconds of 5.8 magnitude utter craziness. My first earthquake (and I hope my last!). After it stopped shaking, I ran to see if my co-workers were OK (everyone was - thank goodness!) and then ran out in the hallway to see what was going on and to try to call Peter on my cell phone. Couldn't get Peter on the phone and the hallway was full of people who (like me) didn't know what exactly we should do. We have every other kind of drill at work to prepare us for every other kind of disaster except for an earthquake (probably because there hasn't been a sizeable earthquake here for at least 50 years!). Finally it was announced over the loudspeaker to evacuate the building, and after standing outside for about an hour while inspectors checked the building, they told us to go home for the day because they couldn't tell yet if the building was structurally damaged or not. They also were not sure if the parking garage was structurally damaged or not so they only let about 10 people at a time enter and drive away. I was really very proud of my co-workers yesterday because there wasn't any panic or disorderliness; everyone was kind and trying to have a sense of humor about the whole experience. I was really worried about Peter, though, because I couldn't reach him by cell, but when I arrived at his workplace, I was finally able to get through on the phone and he was totally fine. We didn't have any delays on the roads driving home, and our apartment was totally fine. Nothing had even fallen from the walls. Others were not so fortunate.

Some had to wait in line for hours to take trains or buses home or were stuck in traffic on major highways. And some had more to clean up at home. But I'm very thankful and praise God that there were no deaths and no serious injuries reported in the DC area. It could have been a lot worse (a lot!). There's some damage to buildings, but I don't think that anything seriously collapsed and, again, no one was seriously hurt so we have much to be grateful for. We just have a little to clean up!

(all images from The Daily Mail)
In addition to the scare of yesterday's earthquake, Peter and I also received some worrisome news about Peter's 13-year-old cousin, Joshua, last night. Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia in February of this year and has been undergoing chemo and radiation treatments for the past few months. He was getting better, but just last week, he took a turn for the worse and doctors found cancer in his spine and brain. Now he's undergoing more aggressive treatments, but he also has fluid on his brain and is at risk of seizure so it's really touch and go right now. Yesterday was an especially scary day for him so he's very much on our hearts and minds right now. If you would pray for him, I would greatly appreciate it!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pinnable Me Friday: Crazy Cool Closets

I’m linking up with Stefanie from Paw Prints and Pastry Bags again this week! I love Pinnable Me Fridays :)

A few days ago, Classic Annie and I were discussing our exceedingly small closets that are crammed full of stuff. I think that we both have used every inch of space possible! That discussion led me (of course) to a romp through Pinterest looking at/lusting after various closet configurations that look nothing like my current closets :)

(I still have not figured out how to embed images from Pinterest to my blog! I again apologize if an image isn't attributed correctly!)

First, let's dream a little wildly, shall we? If I win the mega millions jackpot today, then my closet will soon be transformed into something that might look like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Actually, I think a separate shoe closet will be a must when I win the lottery. And a closet chandelier :)

Coming back down to reality, I think these designs might be more feasible with my budget (if not with my current closet space!)  :)

Gracious goodness, I love shelving!!!

I'm also quite fond of drawers and cubbies.

And I get giddy over a proper place to store my shoes and jewelry (love that little necklace tree!) :)

Our bathroom closet also leaves much to be desired. But this bathroom closet leaves nothing to be desired! How clever to organize products/accessories by the body part for which they are made!!! And to "write" the container label with colorful yarn. Pretty and functional :)

Everything in this bathroom closet has its place and is easily retrieved. Be still my heart :)

I've been a fan of coat closets ever since the age of 4 when I started watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (do you remember the closet where he would hang his sweater when he came home?). This closet is for coats, bags, shoes, hats, AND cardigans, and it does its job well :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Favorite Dinner Party Recipes

Since we're getting ready to host a little gathering for Peter's 30th birthday, I started thinking about the dinner party recipes that I return to again and again. I really like to experiment and try new recipes, but it's nice to have a few good ole standbys up your sleeve that always turn out great! And if they look and taste like you slaved all day in the kitchen but actually were a snap to put together then so much the better :)

1. Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook:

(image from Simply Recipes)

This recipe calls for prunes which you might think sounds weird and a little disgusting (I did too when I first saw the recipe!), but trust me (a prune-hater), this dish is delicious. It looks very elegant in a serving dish and always gets rave reviews from guests (most of whom also usually hate prunes).

2. Creamy Slow-Cooker Chicken from Southern Living:

(image from Southern Living)

My husband, who thought he hated mushrooms when we first were married, is now a mushroom convert because of this dish :) So, so easy (it uses cream of mushroom soup and a slow-cooker) and so, so yummy. It's especially nice in the winter - pure comfort food! Pair it with Roasted Vegetables and Rice as seen in the picture and you have instant dinner party fare :)

3. Shrimp Casserole from Southern Living:

(image from Southern Living)

There is also a chicken version of this recipe if you don't like shrimp (which I have also tried), but I think that the shrimp version is a little tastier. What's super great about this recipe is that you can make it ahead and freeze it if you won't have much time to prepare before company comes, and it's just as delicious as if you made it right then! People also tend to get very excited when you serve them shrimp :) I'm not sure why (except that it's very tasty!), but shrimp seems to be a sure winner at dinner parties!

(image from Google)
This is hands-down my husband's favorite dish :) This is the dish that he requests for every birthday (in fact, this is what I'll be making for his party in a few weeks!). You do have to make it right before guests arrive because the asparagus tends to become very wilted if you make it ahead, but it's a crowd pleaser and simple to make. Pair with a salad, garlic green beans, garlic bread (we like garlic in my house!), and white wine and life is good :)

5. World's Best Lasagna from AllRecipes:

(image from AllRecipes)

Who doesn't like lasagna? And this is the best lasagna recipe I've ever tried (and I've tried many, my friends!). This does require making your own sauce which takes a couple of hours to simmer, but it's worth it. This also feeds about a thousand people so it's great if you're having a big shindig :)

Peter and I love hosting friends and family for dinner so I'm always on the lookout for the next, great dinner party recipe. What are your fave recipes to serve to company?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weekend Recap

Friday was a day off of work for me (I heart 3-day weekends!), and I spent most of the day running around doing errands and picking up supplies for Peter's birthday party later this month. At 6:00, we met my sister, JMC, at Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art in DC.

Every Friday night during the summer the Gallery offers a free jazz concert outside in the Scupture Garden. Lots of people come right after work to meet friends and enjoy a picnic dinner. We had gorgeous weather on Friday so it was super fun to spend some time outside - listening to music, people-watching, and eating some yummy deli sandwiches. Jazz is not my favorite type of music, but the concert was free so I'm not complaining :) The performer this past Friday played a vibraphone (yeah - I had no idea what that was either!) which was kind of like a really big xylophone. Interesting! Do y'all remember the Miss America pageants when contestants would play xylophone for the talent competition? I always thought that looked like so much fun! :)

After dinner, we set off to find Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt shop that everyone is raving about. And it definitely deserves some raving! That stuff is dangerously delicious!!! I ordered the chocolate with toffee crumbles and almonds, and Peter and JMC got the salted caramel flavor with lots of different toppings. We will certainly be back sometime soon :)

(image from Pinkberry)

On Saturday, Peter made some oh-so-yummy omlettes for breakfast, and then I ran some more errands and did some stuff around the house until it was time to meet friends for dinner. Two of our friends from church are returning to China in a few weeks so the dinner was a little farewell party for them. We went to PJ's Rice Bistro  which was a new restaurant for me. One of the new dishes that we tried was shrimp with pineapple, and, let me tell you, I could eat a plate of that every day! (I won't, but I could!)

Peter and I had planned to go to Seneca Creek State Park to hike and maybe canoe for a bit on Sunday, but it was a rainy day in the DC area so we decided to postpone that trip until next weekend. My fingers are crossed for better weather next Sunday!

(image from Google)

In lieu of hiking and canoeing, we read, watched Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,  and I made Pineapple Bliss Cupcakes from Gina's Skinny Recipes.

(image from Skinny Taste)

I was really looking forward to these because I love me some pineapple, but I thought the cupcakes turned out just OK. I don't think that I would make them again. The frosting is very runny and not very flavorful (kind of a bad combo!). The recipe made 24 so I might need to find someone to take some off of my hands!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gettin' Back in Gear

Does anyone else feel like their exercise routine gets a little sidetracked during the summer? I still get in a decent amount of exercise, but I haven’t been consistent. I know that part of the reason that I fall off of my schedule is because we tend to go out of town more during the summer months. And I tend to like to spend as much time outside as possible while it's warm so I want to play tennis or go to the pool rather than go to the gym for a cardio workout. Not that that's bad, necessarily, since I'm still being active, but I find that I don't work out as hard when I'm doing fun outside activities. Cold weather apparently motivates me to exercise more! I'm weird like that :)
(image via Google)

Last academic year, I joined the gym at the university where Peter is getting his Ph.D. and started going to their group fitness classes. I went to the Muscle Works (a body sculpting class) and Abs/Low Back classes regularly and really enjoyed them. I'm definitely a group exercise person. The great thing about classes is that there is some accountability with the instructor and your classmates. I love the sense of community!  I've never really liked exercising alone, either running or biking outside by myself or doing an exercise DVD at home. I get bored with exercise so easily by myself (and it's so easy to cheat and cut corners when I'm alone!). The classes also help me go to the gym for cardio workouts on the eliptical machine, stairmaster, treadmill, etc. because they make me stick to a certain schedule. I just get used to going to the gym every day after work.

(image via Google)

 Fortunately, Group Fitness at the University starts back in a few weeks, and I’m excited to get my routine back. They did have a summer schedule, but I opted out since there were no good classes offered after I get off of work at 5:30. I'm really hoping that they have some good options at the 6:15 class time, especially the two classes I mentioned and Yogafit. Has anyone tried Yogafit? I wanted to go to the Yogafit classes last year, but none were offered at convenient times. I love yoga and have felt the need to start practicing again recently since my back and neck have started feeling tight and sore (that's what sitting at a desk all day will do to you!). Let’s think good thoughts that the classes I want will be offered at the right times and we’ll have great instructors who use great music! Last year there was one instructor who acted like a drill sergeant (seriously, his voice was SO incredibly loud!) and used the worst music in class. Not the most inspiring for me!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend Recap

Peter and I had really busy, rather stressful work weeks so this past weekend we just wanted some good old- fashioned downtime :) On Friday night, we played tennis after work, and then we watched the 5th Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) since I had finished reading the 5th book last week. We also made these for dessert.

(Sorry for my serious lack of food photography skills. Not quite up to Pioneer Woman's level!)

Mmmm ... root beer floats (a.k.a. heaven in a glass!) :) I havn't had a root beer float in quite awhile, and it was a wonderful summer treat.

On Saturday, I ran some necessary but rather boring errands (library, Target, grocery store, etc.), and when I came home, these beauties were waiting for me on our dining room table :)

Peter has good taste, huh? And I have one sweet, thoughtful husband :) Surprise flowers are my favorite!

I made Baked Ziti and Summer Veggies from last month's issue of Cooking Light.

(I obviously did not take this picture! Image via Cooking Light)

Peter declared this recipe a winner after he put the first forkful in his mouth so I guess I'll be making this again sometime soon! After dinner, we watched Secretariat.

(Image via IMDB)

The movie was OK, but the tailored, 60s fashions that Diane Lane wore throughout the movie were great! Part of me really wishes that white gloves and hats were still expected accessories for women :)

On Sunday, we went to church, ate lunch, and then headed to a local driving range. Peter had not practiced his golf swing in forever and I have never even attempted a golf swing (except for the mini-golf kind!) so we thought it was high time that we went. Peter did really well; he was hitting balls 150 feet and even farther. You can't see it in the picture very well, but there was an old car sitting in the grass that Peter was trying to hit. He never did, but he definitely came close. We wondered if you won some kind of prize if you hit it :)

I was not hitting them quite so far (maybe 50 feet?), but I did manage to hit a few :)

(This is not one of the times I managed to hit the ball 50 feet. If you look near my foot, you can see that the ball did not get very far.)

After running one more errand, we went home, ate leftovers for dinner, and read for awhile. A relaxing end to a relaxing weekend :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pinnable Me Friday: Masculine Birthday Parties

I’m linking up with Stefanie from Paw Prints & Pastry Bags again this week! I love Pinnable Me Fridays :)

My husband's 30th birthday is this month, and he is finally (Finally!) letting me throw him a birthday party. He doesn't really like all of the attention that can come with birthdays so it will not be a big shindig. We're going to have an informal dinner party with some of our closest friends here in MD, and I'm going to make some of his favorite dishes. I can't resist adding some special birthday touches, though, so I've been looking at Pinterest for some inspiration. Guy birthday parties are much harder to plan than parties for kids or girlfriends!!! I want things to be masculine but fun, and I think I've found some good ideas this week.

(I still have not figured out how to embed images from Pinterest to my blog! I again apologize if an image isn't attributed correctly!)

I'm not sure about the poufs hanging overhead, but I love this dessert table! Understated, masculine colors and decorative accents with nothing frilly and plenty of yummy treats :)

Since it will be my husband's 30th birthday, these favor boxes caught my eye because of the cute tags. But I also really like how the ribbon and twine jazz up plain white containers. Fun but not girly!

I think Peter might be a bit embarrassed to have so many photos of himself hanging on our wall so I'm not planning on incorporating this into his party. But I think it's very creative :) And I really like the color that the balloons add!

Peter was born in the 80s so I think that this "Circa 1980s Cassette Tape Party" is very fitting :) I especially love this invitation! And the cookie favors are great too!

This is from a beer tasting birthday party :) This is a great idea for a guy's birthday (Peter would definitely approve!), and I think this dessert table is fairly easy to do and appropriate. The bottle cap-shaped cake is especially fun :)

This is from the same beer tasting party. What a great way to present snacks! They were going for a pub-type presentation, and I think it worked.

My husband isn't an avid golfer, but this dessert table would be perfect if he was. I think it's a great idea to bring someone's favorite hobby into their special day. Look at those Jell-O cups and the donut holes representing golf balls :)