Lots of Thanks!

Today I am thankful for:

-Spending our first holiday in our Virginia home. Even without decorations on the wall, it is already feeling like we've been here forever. It's bittersweet to be spending my first Thanksgiving away from my parents and sister, but I'm excited to be spending our first holiday in our new home together with Ian's parents.

-Giant for providing a cheap turkey dinner that doesn't require having to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal from scratch in said new home. Trust me, it was just better that way.

-My husband for being the best friend and husband a girl could ever want, and for putting up with her even when she is being a big sack of potatoes about home improvement projects. (Perhaps a blog post on our adventures with insulation to come soon...) Also for making sure that our pre-cooked turkey was cooked to turkey perfection and for coming up with some improvised dishes when said Giant dinner was not enough for everyone.

-The Goodwill down the street from my office so that I can pick up some thrifty delights on my lunch breaks.

-My family up in PA. I wish I got to see them more.

-Trader Joe's Cookie Butter. And spoons to eat it with.

-The warm sunny day that allowed us to walk off our Thanks-blubber around the lake.

-The jobs that allow Ian and I to live comfortably, buy houses and cars, and also have some extra left over for fun.

-All of my friends. The ones I've known forever, the ones I've met in the past year, and the ones I've never met in person through this blog. You all make me so very happy and I couldn't imagine life without you!

I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving with loved ones, laughter, and some good food!


Martha Stewart's Fall Vegetable Pizza

In light of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I would share this recipe that I made last week at the height of packing and cleaning our old apartment. It had been sitting on my Pinterest for months, and I had finally gotten all the ingredients so I figured after a week of eating nothing but PB&J and cereal, we deserved a hot meal. Right?

Allow me to first start with the disclaimer. In my experience with anything involving Martha Stewart, I usually think it's going to be easy. She makes things look and sound like a simple process, when really they are time consuming and for only the most advanced of crafters. For example, one summer when I was bored, I bought one of her paper flower kits from K-Mart that looked like a fun summer night project. Well, after one attempt at a rose, I just about threw the whole thing away. So I should have known that when a recipe involved cutting up a butternut squash and rolling out pizza dough (two nearly impossible tasks, in my opinion) I should have maybe saved the meal for a night when I wasn't already stressing out about life. 

But the funny thing was, on this particular night I was soothed by a complicated, multi-step recipe to take my mind off everything else that I needed to be doing. It was almost theraputic. And absolutely DELICIOUS.

But anyway, the recipe. Unfortunately, as my camera was already packed away, this measly Instagram photo is the only evidence I have of my success:

Martha Stewart's Fall Vegetable and Ricotta Pizza
from marthastewart.com

Olive oil
1 lb frozen pizza dough from the grocery store
8 oz part-skim grated mozzarella cheese
6 cups of Martha Stewart's Roasted Fall Vegetables
  • See, this is where she gets you! You have to prepare this recipe-within-a-recipe first before proceeding with the pizza. You can find the recipe for the vegetables here. It's really pretty simple, just make sure you leave an extra hour or so to do this. Or, better yet, make them ahead of time! 
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tbsp fresh or dry rosemary leaves (I used dry.)
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees (after the vegetables are done). Brush a large baking sheet with oil.
2. Roll out dough on a lightly-floured surface and stretch into a large oval (should be about 12 X 16 in.).
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella on the dough, followed by the vegetables. Dollop the ricotta on top, and then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt ad pepper.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbling and golden.


Finally Home

It's been several years since I felt like I was at a place where I was going to really settle down. Although, yes, I went to college in my hometown right down the street from my childhood home, I was packing up and moving at least every eight months between the dorms, coming home for breaks, summer internships, and moving into apartments. It felt like no matter where I was currently living, I really couldn't get too comfortable because I knew soon I'd be dragging out the boxes again for another cumbersome move across town. 

When Ian and I moved to Virginia, we knew this was somewhere we wanted to make our long-term home. While we couldn't have asked for a better living situation for our first apartment together, we knew that one of our first goals as married folks was to buy a house as soon as possible. I won't lie to you, when we were first married the whole idea of buying a house was so not appealing to me. That was something that old people did, and I sure wasn't anywhere ready to be old. Because once you bought a house, you had to have kids. That's just the way it worked.

But then I started watching HGTV. Ha, just kidding. No, but really. The thought of owning our own building actually seemed pretty cool. A place with multiple rooms and levels. A place that we could paint and alter any way we wanted. Soon we had friends who had homes (and with no baby plans in the future) and suddenly I wanted one too! Once we took care of paying off student loan debt first, we started to seriously put some money aside each month for a down payment while starting to look around at houses in the area.

After many months of saving, trying to limit excessive dining out, and some help from the family, we finally found a place that we loved and was right in our budget. While the idea of a fixer-upper sounded like a lot of fun, we moved into a place that is already in fantastic shape yet still has some room for us to customize to our tastes. It's going to be a process to make this house our home, but I am so thrilled to finally know that we are settled down. Ugh, "settled down" just sounds so old, doesn't it?

Whatever. I finally feel like I'm home!


Home is Wherever I'm With You

As of yesterday, Ian and I officially became homeowners!

I had alluded to the fact that we were buying a house several times on the blog, but was hesitant to make a big deal out of it until every last bit of paperwork was done. Monday night was like Christmas Eve, but I was also terrified that we would show up to the title office on Tuesday and there would be some terrible mistake and we wouldn't actually be able to have this house that we fell in love with. 

But everything went just swimmingly. As we neared the bottom of the stack of seemingly endless paperwork, I noticed myself getting giddy and fidgety. Even though we had just basically signed our life away and are now farther in debt than ever, we bought a HOUSE! Of our own! 

Obviously it called for a celebratory feast at a Greek joint in downtown Fairfax.

It's a bittersweet feeling as we pack up everything from our first little home together in Georgia's house,  the first and only place we have ever known together. I actually loved house hunting. It sure wasn't as easy as they make it look on HGTV, but there was something so exciting about spending a Saturday discovering new houses in the area, getting to poke around all the nooks and crannies of an empty home, just imagining the possibilities. Was it overwhelming? Of course, and after several months it was even a little discouraging. But when we walked into this house, we knew that it was our house. It was just like falling in love--you just knew. 

There is still so much to do and so much to pack up, but I am so excited to make the house our new home together.


An Afternoon at Mimosa

What do you get when you mix a cheap mani-pedi, a bunch of girls, and bottomless champagne?

An afternoon at Mimosa Salon in Dupont Circle, that's what!

This weekend, between packing/freaking out about moving into a new house in less than a week, I got to spend an afternoon out and about in DC with some of my best friends. I had seen a blog post about Mimosa in my perusing, and when I saw 'bottomless mimosas' I knew that this was somewhere I had to check out. But it almost seemed too good to be true. 

The salon is located at 706 Connecticut Ave. NW, and if you were just walking by you probably wouldn't even know it was there. We had made a reservation for five several weeks ago, and when we arrived we were immediately greeted and asked if we were the group of five. The gentleman told us that we would be upstairs, but we were first instructed to pick out our nail colors from the racks upon racks of polish. To say it was overwhelming is a bit of an understatement.

Once we finally made our decisions, we made our way up the steps to find a bustling second level. We had five massaging pedicure chairs right next to each other waiting for us. The minute we sat down, one gentleman came around handing us all champagne glasses, and a woman followed right behind with a large bottle of champagne. The room was a tad bit hot, my bangs were sticking to my face, but I didn't care. It was kind of like heaven.

It was my first pedicure, and I must say for someone with the most ticklish body in the world, I actually held up pretty well (maybe the three glasses of champagne had something to do with that. Those people are smart). The color I chose was You Don't Know Jacque by OPI, and I must say I am a little bit obsessed. 

The total came to $39.00 for the whole thing, which is absolutely fantastic in my book. I just got the regular nail polish, but the also have gel options for a couple dollars more, which I gotta try next time considering I nicked my fresh manicure on the way to the bathroom...

The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking coffee, and shopping with some great company. 

(The girls minus Shannon the photographer)

The verdict: Mimosa rocks. You gotta go--and let me know when you do because I want to join.


Pinterest Win: Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe for Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese on Pinterest when I was planning out our meals for the week, and knew that this would be a perfect dish for a chilly evening. First of all, who doesn't love homemade mac and cheese? Second of all, is smoked gouda not the best kind of cheese in the world? For real, if I had to eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be gouda cheese. Just so smoky and yummy and mmmmm......

Anyway, back to the recipe.

This recipe is from Just A Dash, and I modified it a bit for what we had in the kitchen.

Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
From Just  a Dash

4 cups Dried Pasta -- I used the shell kind.
1 Egg Beaten
4 Tablespoons Butter
¼ cups All-purpose Flour
2-½ cups 2% milk
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 pound Smoked Gouda (I just bought a block from Trader Joe's and used the whole thing. It was a little over 1/2 lb.)
½ pound Cheddar Cheese
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Cook pasta according to directions on box. When done, drain and rinse with cold water.

3. Grate your cheese, or if you don't have a grater like me, use your knife to cut it up into very thin strips. Don't forget to eat some along the way. Because did I mention, gouda cheese rocks?

4. In a large pot (perhaps the one you just dumped your pasta out of?) melt the butter and whisk in flour, whisking constantly into a roux (fancy hotel and restaurant management term right there.)

5. Slowly add milk a little at a time, continuing to constantly stir.

6. Beat egg in a separate bowl, and then slowly add 1/4 cup of the sauce and beat it into egg. When mixed well, add to sauce.

7. Dump your cheese in, stir until melted, and then add your seasonings.(It said on the original recipe that it should taste salty, and mine definitely did. Don't let this scare you!)

8. Add your pasta back in and mix well.

9. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish and cook for 20 minutes. I poured some extra cheese on top, but it would taste really good with breadcrumbs.

10. Scoop into a large bowl, curl up on the couch with your loved one, and watch Modern Family (or your favorite weeknight TV show.) ENJOY!


Red Jackets and Jeggings

After Hurricane Sandy swept through, the temps around here suddenly plummeted into winter coat-wearing weather. FINALLY!

Is it weird that I was super excited for it to be cold again so that I could wear my favorite coat? I don't mean like brisk Fall day-sweatshirt-and-jeans weather, but I mean bundle up weather that involves hats, gloves....and red coats. Are you surprised? I think just about every winter coat I've owned in the past five years has been red. 

Did you know that Sarah Jessica Parker made clothes at one point? This is a Bitten by SJP coat that was handed down to me from a family friend. Apparently this line was sold at Steve and Barry's, which is now bankrupt (whoops?) and has not been on shelves since 2009. The clothing line itself got terrible reviews from what I've seen, but I am here to tell you that this is my favorite coat ever. I mean, it's red. Can you really go wrong? Not to mention warm, form-fitting, and just overall fabulous. The coat originally had red buttons, but my mom helped (read: did all the work) with sewing on these black buttons I found at Joann's to give the coat some new life. 

I would also like to proclaim my re-found love for jeggings. Are jeggings still cool? I sure hope so, because I'm about to wear the crap out of them again. The jeggings I'm currently wearing may or may not have been ones that didn't fit my hot post-wedding bod last year at this time, but after a year of marriage and baking are now nice and snug again.

 Good thing I didn't throw them out! That's not hoarding, it's called being smart.

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