A Taste of the Weekend

Usually, I have this strange craving to eat a lot of bad things for me on the weekend. That craving multiplies about 110% when it happens to be near that time of the month.

It's been a meltdown-free weekend though, so perhaps we have discovered that the key to keeping Brenda sane before Aunt Flo comes to town is to keep her well fed?

On Friday night, after lots of buildup about the surprise date we were going on, Ian took me to the Sweetwater Tavern in Falls Church for some after-dinner drinkin'. Really can't beat microbrews and my man all in one place. 

After coffee with a friend on Saturday, I was feeling chipper and sufficiently caffeinated, so I snapped a pic of my enjoying the sunny day in my sunny day sunglasses (the ones I reserve for the sunniest of days) and the fact that I wasn't wearing a coat. Yes, it sure is the little things. 

So when, much to my delight, cake mixes were 10 for $10 at Giant, I decided Saturday was finally going to be the day where I made cake pops. See, back in the day when I had a wedding to plan, I had at one point decided that I would hand-make thousands of these little guys for some fabulous favors. That motivation pretty much lasted until I went out and bought all the supplies to make them, and alas, packages of lollipop sticks and bags have been sitting in the cabinet. Until yesterday!

There is no shortage of cake pop tutorials in the blogosphere, so I pretty much gathered that you bake a cake, crumble it in a bowl, mix it with frosting, and mold it into cute little balls to be dunked in chocolate. I thought I would mix it up and dunk it in melted Reeses Peanut Butter chips. 

However, have you ever tried to melt those things? They don't melt. Instead, they form a nasty, hard glob of peanut butter-like substance that hardens in about five minutes. So forget that.

I melted a big bowl of chocolate chips and quickly found that coating balls of rolled up, mashed together cake isn't as easy as it sounds. In short, it made a mess and I gave up and Ian and I played Scrabble.

But the next day, the stupid balls of cake were sitting on the counter. I had to finish the job, so I went back to Giant on a quest to find chocolate that's actually meant for dipping and coating things. Didn't find any. 

So I settled for the next step: Google. Turns out if you melt chocolate chips on a double boiler and mix in some vegetable oil, it makes a lovely, smooth, chocolately mix perfect for coating your cake pops. 

Don't have a double boiler? No worries! Just improvise with what you have.

Again, it made a mess, but this time I winded up with some pretty tasty truffle-like balls of candy coated cake. Which kind of looked like turds. So I rolled them in sprinkles just for shits and giggles.

Yes, this weekend sure tasted good. 


New Shoes and Nu Shooz

On Sunday while my husband was mourning the loss of a football legend, I mourned in my own special way by going shopping.

I have been in serious need of new shoes, a fact that Ian finds very hard to believe, but a real need nonetheless. Particularly work shoes. See, I have been wearing the same sensible black heels that I bought for my summer internship three years ago, complete with a chunky heel and ankle strap. Not really cute at all. At one point, I invested in some better, more modern black heels from Kohls, but one was lost at some point in my bachelorette party travels, and one somehow made it down to Virginia. So that does a lot of good.

Needless to say, a trip to DSW was in order. After pulling up into a perfect parking spot just a few yards from the store, I had a good feeling. Just about everything in the store was on sale. Can you say cha- chingggggg? I did.

I walked in with one thing on my mind: black heels. But then it all went downhill when I spotted a pair of red patent-leather pumps. For 29 bucks. Eeeeeeeeep!

I mosied my way back to the clearance section, where I circled and circled trying on pair after pair of black heels that would be suitable for work. Finally, like a beacon on a lighthouse, I saw these babies marked 70 percent off!

After one (or two or three) more sweep up and down the aisles, I mosied back to the clearance one more time. And saw this pair of fabulous, totally un-sensible, and a little bit unnecessary, purple pair. Naturally, I tried them on and decided I had to have them.

So I did what any self-respecting shopper would do. Compared all of the options and their pros and cons. 

Red Shoes
Pros: They are red. And fabulous. And obviously I am buying them.
Cons: None that I can see.

Purple Shoes: 
Pros: They are purple. And fabulous. And I really want them.
Cons: Where will I where them? Whatever.

Black Shoes:
Pros: Perfect for work.
Cons: They are not red and/or any other bright color, not really fun, but a necessary purchase.

So I bought 'em all.

And it's not as self-indulgent as you think because all three were under $100! 

And now, as I'm sure you are just as excited as I am about this, I have provided for your listening pleasure the 1980's pop sensation Nu Shooz and their one hit wonder that makes me want to kick on my purple shoes and go dancing at a discotheque:


Reasons Why I Love the Weekend

Exhibit A: Library books.

Exhibit B: New Recipes. This weekend, Ritzy Chicken Casserole. Looks like dessert, but it ain't.

Exhibit C: A giant cookie in a skillet. Which was consumed in roughly three minutes.

I love the weekend. Who doesn't? Saturday and Sunday, the ending and beginning of the week, are what gets me through the week. Having these days to rest and rejuvenate helps me face the upcoming week with a renewed energy. Hence, why I don't work in the industry that I went to college for.

It was also a sad weekend for Penn State and for my hometown. RIP Joe Paterno.


How was your weekend?


A Nifty Thrifty Outfit

Since the 'spending money' budget hasn't had much room for buying new clothes lately (maybe I shouldn't buy lunch all the time at work...) I've been doing a lot of mixing and matching what I already have.

Skirts are absolutely my favorite thing to wear to work. Whether it's pencil skirts, dressy skirts, or casual skirts that are able to be dressed up, I love the streamlined look of a flowy top cinched at the waist by a skirt. So classic, pretty, and kind of sexy without being trashy.

I bought this floral skirt at Goodwill several years ago. It's great to wear in the summer with a tank top, but I hadn't really ventured into the professional territory with it. That is, until this week.

A pair of black tights and a cozy blazer made the skirt work-appropriate and the outfit got lots of compliments!
Not to mention, it was a good bangs day.

Can't go wrong with a good bangs day.


Something Beautiful

One of the biggest ways we saved money for our wedding was with our video. Ian had a friend who does professional wedding videos, so he asked him if he could shoot the videos and just give him a disc with all the clips for Ian to use his former-film-major expertise to edit together.

This weekend, Ian put the intro portion of the video together. We might have watched it a million times already. Because, seriously, it was the best day ever.


Video by Tyler Capozzi
Photos by Meagan Jepson
Music by The Newsboys


My Only Vice

A good friend of mine once gave me a pad of post it notes with a saying that she thought described me well:

"If I could combine coffee, chocolate, and wine...I'd only have one vice!"

That's pretty much true. I have a lot of vices though, including red dresses, bad TV shows, hair products, scarves, and peanut butter. 

Especially chocolate and peanut butter.

I've found that only good things happen when these ingredients combine.

I found this recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Brownies on Pintrest (where else?) so obviously I knew that today was going to be a good day. Especially when, instead of box mix, I used homemade-from-scratch mason jar mix from my dear sister.

The recipe calls for using mini muffin tins, but we only have large ones. Go big or go home, I always say.

The recipe also says to wait until they cool to eat. 

I'm not much into waiting.


A Post About Productivity and Missing my Friends

Hello, friends! You know what I have done this weekend? Minus a brief time at work on Saturday morning, I have been parked on the couch while my very productive husband has slaved away on our wedding video. 

But I wouldn't call it unproductive. After all, I have watched Oprah interview Joel Osteen, learned about a woman who was addicted to smelling gasoline, a girl who carries her teddy bears around all the time, and an obese girl who eats nothing but cheesy potatoes. Can you tell what channels have been great today? (Answer: OWN and TLC. You're welcome.) I was thinking that I haven't had a real lay-on-the-couch, veg-it-out day since college. Like, every weekend in college.

I was also just thinking this morning, I haven't had meltdown in a little while.

...and I didn't have a meltdown today. Just a little bit of tears and sap while I watched the last fifteen minutes of the Sex and the City movie on USA. You know at the very end when Carrie and Big get married in the courthouse, and as they're leaving Carrie says that the wedding was perfect--just her and him. Big asks if maybe she wishes a little bit that the girls were there? Carrie says "well, yeahh..." and he opens the door and right there is the rest of the crew?!

I've seen that movie a few times, and that part gets me every time--when they all go out for brunch after, and then the very end of the movie when it's just the four of the gals sitting around at a fancy NYC bar, sipping cosmos and toasting to their friendship.

I sat up and looked at Ian and said with tears running down my face, "This makes me miss my friends".

Ian looked up from his computer and said, "Why? What are they doing in the movie?"

"They're out.....sitting with each other....drinking and stuff...." 

Then I got up to blow my nose.

It makes me miss my friends. A certain group, to be exact.

Meagan Jepson Photography

I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't missed these girls, brought up a story about one or all of them at work, or just longed for the days when summer nights consisted of rounding up the gang to run around the neighborhood or sit in someone's basement eating ice cream and watching Veronica Mars DVDs. 

Let me go back a little further. We have all pretty much known each other since the beginning of time.  Some of us went to preschool together, and the whole group was formed in elementary school.

While other friends came and went, the seven us remained strong through thick and thin, through the awkward pre-teen years...

...sticking together from school dances to awkward Halloween costumes...

....growing into pretty good looking young women...

People compared us to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Which was pretty much the best compliment ever to a group of sixteen year olds. In fact, the first summer in high school that we all spent apart, we made a Traveling Shirt that we sent around to each other. (Which is still floating around in someone's closet out there....)

We were those girls who would show up to camp in a group so large that we were our group. While everyone else was making memories with friends they would probably never speak with again after that week, we were just making more memories that we would still talk about 10 years later.

What we have is real special. Plenty of people have certain friends that they have known forever, but a whole group of 'em? It's pretty neat.

Now we're all grown up and all over the world (quite literally; Courtney is teaching in China, Hannah is Peace Corp-ing in Nicaragua, Megan B is Young Adult Volunteer in Nashville; Katy is in grad school in Kentucky, Shannon is holding down the fort in PA with her new job, and Megan T is finishing up her last year at Washington and Lee) but I don't see things ending here anytime soon. There are still phone calls to be made, emails to be sent, and the excitement of being reunited one day to pull us through. 


A Story for your Tuesday

I've pretty much accepted that life likes has this way of interfering with my plans. 

Example A: When I started my new job, I got out of the last day of training early so I was excited for an afternoon of relaxing and baking. Well, wouldn't that be the day that I was traveling without the GPS, and got lost in back country VA on easily one of the hottest days of the year, practically running on fumes while I aimlessly drove around looking for a gas station. 

Example B: The night I drove home on the rainiest and windiest night ever, excited for the Moroccan Chicken Stew in the Crock Pot, when the transmission blew. Remember that?

So basically, any time I am envisioning a significant and rare chunk of time for being lazy (and most likely eating), God laughs at me and says "No way, Bren. You don't get out enough. I am going to force you to spend more time in society than you would ever want to."

And I say, "But God, I need to get home right away so that I can stalk all my favorite blogs and bake some unhealthy things for me and my man."

I felt that this particular conversation went down on the Thursday before Christmas, where I had a whole day off to myself to finish up my Christmas shopping, clean the house before we left town, and cook an awesome dinner. 

It all started out great. I put on my go-to shopping uniform (leggings, boots, and a sweater) and headed out on a seasonably warm day to World Market, where I had previously fought mile-long lines and was hoping for a less overwhelming experience this time so I could get some awesome gifts. (Side note: that store is awesome.) I spent at least two hours there filling up a shopping cart with things like pretty plates for my Grandma, chocolate covered marshmallows for my sister, a twelve pack of beer from around the world for Ian, and a bottle of chocolate wine. For me. 

When I checked out, and found that maybe I spent a little too much, I pushed the cart through the parking lot to the Toyota, starving and ready to go home and eat, naturally. I dug around my purse for my keychain, and pulled it out only to find the Toyota key not there. No big deal--sometimes it falls off. So I rummaged and rummaged the depths of my bag with one hand, holding the cart that wanted to run away with the other, but had no luck. 

At this point, I was ready to scour the parking lot for a stray key on the ground when I looked in the window and saw that I locked the damn key in the car.

Actual photo. See it sitting there on the seat?

Let me just say, there is pretty much nothing worse than locking your keys in your car. Especially after a particular incident where having AAA would have made life much easier, you were planning to get AAA before heading up to PA for Christmas, and you were now faced with another incident that AAA could have fixed in a snap.

Cursing this irony, I called Ian with the dumb luck that maybe he got out of school early. It was around noon at this point, so I called his office with no answer. 

So there I was, a cart full of stuff that wasn't exactly easy to tote around (what with all that glass and all). I could have gotten flustered, and I sure was getting hungry, so I pushed the cart back up to the store and asked the nice cashier if I could just leave it there for a little bit.

Then, I left my expensive cart of stuff and went to Olive Garden. 

It really all ended well. Yes, sitting at Olive Garden by myself, stuffing my face with salad and breadsticks and then, because why not, Italian Donuts with Chocolate Dipping Sauce, was a little awkward. But Ian called back, ended up getting out of school a little early, and came to rescue me from my Olive Garden and shopping misery. I mean, really--there are worse places to be stranded on a Thursday afternoon.

And that evening, we got AAA. 



One of the many awesome things about being married is having a built-in best friend who is always there to watch bad TV with, enjoy a beer after a long week with, and to explore new places with.

On Sunday after trying out a new church in Alexandria, we spent the day in Old Town perusing antique shops and home decor stores that we will never be able to afford. It was fabulous.

Bertucci's Brick Oven for lunch with endless salad and bread that easily rivals Olive Garden. 

Grilled Eggplant Panini. Yum. 

What did you do on this balmy January weekend?


Just Like New

As you may or may not know, this blog originally started out as a place for me to document some of my favorite thrift store finds (some of my favorites are here, here, and here!) but over time, has developed into more of an over-all lifestyle blog. Obviously there ain't nothing wrong with that! But between the crazyness of wedding planning, moving, working, and just life in general, the thrift store trips have been sparse; although I have checked out a few in our area, I haven't really hit any jackpots yet. And the Goodwill store near us is EXPENSIVE. I mean, ten dollars for a dress? Really?

So sometimes I gotta do the next best thing--shop my closet. You know, dig into the depths for things that you forgot about, grew out of, or just never wore. Bonus points if it's a thrift store find to begin with, because that means you didn't waste much money on it!

Take, for example, this red polka-dot shirt. 

Never mind the awkward self-portrait pose. Truth be told, I would of used my brand new tripod but I was running late for work and simply had to capture this good hair day.

I think I bought this shirt at the State College Goodwill because I loved the pattern, loved the color, and loved the little poof in the shoulders. However, the fabric is AWFUL. As in, 100% polyester. Which meant that wearing for anything other than sitting in an office at a computer all day is pretty much out of the question, considering every movement induces pit stains.

But for a day at work, paired with a lovely vintage necklace and a belt? It's like it's a brand new outfit!




My New Years Thoughts

First things first, I was totally wrong about the whole 2012 end-of-the-world deal. I thought that the world was allegedly ending at the beginning of 2012, not the end of it, so I was wondering when the end of 2011 got closer and closer, why people weren't making a bigger deal out of it. Whoops!

So once the fear of impending doom was cast aside, we had ourselves a pretty nice New Years Eve.

Now, I've never really had a fabulous last-night-of-the-year. I have found that there are two types of people: people who LOVE New Years Eve, and people who HATE it. I am somewhere in between. I have always wanted to love it, and every year I have ideas of partying it up at some glamourous club in a sparkly dress. However, when the evening actually rolls around, all I want to do is sit on the couch with some junk food and watch poor Dick Clark try and count down the ball drop in Times Square. Or I get the stomach flu on New Years Eve, and toast the new year by the toilet with a glass of ginger ale. Mmmm.....

This year was the perfect combination of both. Dinner at a fancy restaurant in Arlington, and then back to the abode for drinks, snacks, Dick Clark, and Scrabble in our PJ's. Perfect.

So right off the bat, after a swell evening, a new blog design AND a whole extra year before the world is over, 2012 sure is looking to be pretty fabulous!

(But for real....this article from NASA makes me feel better.)

Looking back, 2011 was pretty wonderful; in fact, it was probably the most exciting year I've ever had. 

I graduated from college. Planned (with the help of many!) the biggest day of my life. Got married. Moved far away from home. Got my first big-girl job which doesn't involve uniforms or food. 

Can it really get better than that? 

I think it can. 2011 was fantastic, but I have a feeling that...

This is going to be the year that I find my ideal balance between work and life. Where I do not waste my energy on people who make me angry, but rather use it towards doing something creative and maybe making some extra money off of it (whether it's writing, making things, the blog...the possibilities are endless.) I'm going to teach myself how to sew and I'm going to do something creative at least once per week. No matter where my career takes me this year, I will find fulfillment in what I do and be thankful for the job I have. I will be thankful every day for my husband, our cozy abode, my family, and my friends that are all over the world. 

I'm ready! Let's have a fabulous year.

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