Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish you all a happy new year! The craziness of the holidays is winding down, and I'm looking forward to beginning blogging regularly again on Monday. :) As we get ready to begin a new year, I just wanted to thank you for popping into my blog and reading. Wishing you and yours a joyful, peaceful, and prosperous new year!

I'm ready for Christmas!

Well, I might not be entirely ready for Christmas, but I'm definitely ready for a break from work. Beginning Thursday at 2:30, I'm looking forward to spending my Friday cleaning up the apartment, exercising, packing, and leisurely finishing up my wrapping and Christmas shopping. I'm really looking forward to having some time to just relax. And then I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas! I'm looking forward to being with the husband on Christmas, Christmas carols, enjoying the Christmas tree and treats, and seeing family. Wishing you a merry Christmas filled with peace and joy!

*Image from Recycled Design Blog

Christmas Cookies

While I was celebrating Christmas with my family this weekend, I spied a Pillsbury roll of peppermint cookie dough in my parents' fridge. I was intrigued, so my mom sent it back with me (most likely because she knew I'd drive her crazy). On Sunday, I whipped these up. I was pleased with how they turned out, and they taste delicious! I made a few other types of cookies, and boxed them up. There aren't that many cookies per box, but I still went through 4 dozen cookies.And here is a finished box all ready to go. My sister bought me the merry Christmas ribbon last year, and I think it definitely adds a little something. The boxes are from Martha Stewart. I bought them a few years ago, and finally I'm using them. They're not Christmas themed, but that was intentional. For people who don't celebrate Christmas, I just use a plain bow.I know it's not much, but last year, all I was able to do were candy canes and cards for my co-workers.

Busy Week!

It's been a busy week, as the person I'm replacing left today. There was a lot of last minute activity as we tried to get all the training done. However, I think things are getting ready to slow down and I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with my family to celebrate our Christmas, since I'll be with the husband's parents for the actual holiday. It will be great to see my family, but I'm a little bummed, since it looks like my husband has a lot of work to do this weekend. But, the important thing is being together, even if it's not as long as we'd like. It never is, is it? What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Cooker, Baker , or Neither?

I'm probably neither if we're being completely honest; however, with the holiday season I feel I've gotten into baking a bit more. Last night, I made some chocolate chip cookies, and the husband remarked that I've started to bake more (but that's also coming from the point of not doing anything). I really like to bake, even though it's not very healthy. I think part of the reason I don't enjoy cooking as much, is that the husband lives to eat meat and I am a vegetarian. It's a battle to pick a meal that we both like, besides mac and cheese (yeah, we're classy like that). So it made me wonder, are you a cooker, baker or neither?

Some Early Christmas Gifts

When some of my friends came up for the weekend, I exchanged gifts with one friend. Since she's been into baking lately, I bought her a cookbook holder, Williams and Sonoma cookbook, cookie decorating set, and a pumpkin flavored ice cream kit for her to use with her ice cream maker (that she really loves). I think I did pretty well, all things considered. We're lucky enough that we really have everything we need.

However, she did pick me up this lovely Kate Spade scarf. While it's not something I'd pick out on my own, and I certainly wouldn't spend that much on a scarf, it's a lovely treat and I enjoy the variety it adds to my wardrobe. I'm also horrible at taking pictures by the way. She also gave us an apartment warming gift in the form of 12 mini dessert cups. I'm sad to say that I was so excited that I whipped up some no bake cheesecake for that evening's game night. I'm obsessed with mini desserts! While the gift is certainly not important, I was really touched by her thoughtfulness.

Getting Excited for Christmas: What to bring the office?

With the advent of Christmas and the holidays, also comes the dilemma of what to give your co-workers, if anything. The husband has already received a small food gift, and is now wondering if he should reciprocate to six other people. The problem with office gifts is that it can get out of control really quickly, and you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Even if we only give to the immediate people, we still have to come up with 12 gifts, and really it's probably more.

I used to look down on baked goods (because of my lacking culinary skills), but last year my department head gave us all delicious white fudge that I'm still thinking about a year later...that really changed my attitude!
Right now the husband is trying to cajole me into making macaroons for his office, but I'm pretty insecure with how they might turn out. I was already thinking about just doing a cookie medley for my co-workers, since that's more traditional and quite a bit easier. What do you do for your office mates? Do you have any creative ideas that are fairly inexpensive, but still thoughtful?

*Picture from a Google search. I wouldn't do Christmas colors, since not all of our co-workers celebrate the holiday.

A ThankfulThursday

It's been a pretty busy and long week for me. I tend to stress over what I haven't done/what I'm not, versus what I do and am. Anybody else ever do that?

With that said, I have so much to be thankful for today:

1. I have a dress to wear for tomorrow night that I think is appropriate. My sister bought it for me online from Banana Republic as an early Christmas present. Even with expedited shipping it was still cheaper than in the store. When I found out that I had a dress, I was seriously just so relieved. This is a super frivolous thing to be excited about, but I spent Monday and Tuesday night trying to find something after work, and it was no fun stressing about how everything is so expensive, not appropriate, and looked horrible on me.

2. Which brings me to my sister! Only she would put up with my craziness as I agonize over what to wear and all my imperfections. Sometimes I really need to talk to someone about ridiculous things without judgment, and she's always there for me.

3. The sun is shining! After two days of trudging through the rain, I'm delighted to see the sun.

4. The husband is going to be home at a decent hour tonight. He's been at the office until 2 or 3 am, so I haven't seen him this week.

5. Friends are coming up for the weekend! I'm trying to forget about the fact that our apartment isn't really company ready, and the medley of Christmas cookies that I was determined to make aren't going to happen.

6. We finally took the plunge and bought our coffee table. Now we just have to put it together before our friends arrive. Having furniture is always a good thing, right?

7. This blog! I truly appreciate every comment and reader. I never imagined I could have a legitimate blog when I first started.

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

*Photo via Pinterest, Eddie Ross

Gifts for the friend who Spends Hours at Sephora with you

One of my really good friends adores make-up and we used to spend lots of time in Sephora and Ulta. She's always the one to tell me about the latest thing (or because I'm so behind on the curve, things that have happened in the last few years). Since she's always helping me find current things, I know I could never pick out the best products for her. So, for her Christmas gift, she will be receiving a subscription to Birchbox! I think she will love the idea of getting a gift every month and enjoy trying out the products.


I also plan on getting her a giftcard to Sephora, so she can immediately stock up on her favorites. I love Sephora, since the giftcard comes with a little mirror for your purse too. What are your favorite gifts to give to those who love make-up and all things girly?

Holiday Attire Advice?

The husband's firm is having their holiday party this Friday night, and I'm really panicked over what to wear. Originally, I bought a herringbone skirt from the Loft, and I thought it'd look dressy enough with pearls and a black sweater. I also purchased the black lace skirt, but again, I don't have anything to pair it with.Now, I'm finding out that it's more "business cocktail attire"; whatever in the world that means! Anybody have any ideas? I've been trying to look for dresses, but I'm not feeling terribly good about my body lately and I can't find anything. I really think this dress would be lovely from Banana Republic, but I'm worried it won't do me any favors (err, work the miracles that I need it to). I also don't even know if I can get the dress before Friday...

What stores do you usually love to check out? Any tips for looking fabulous? As you can tell, I'm feeling very insecure, since the holiday parties I'm used to took place in the school's cafeteria.

Wishing you a Relaxing Weekend!

This week flew by, and I'm looking forward to the weekend, even though I think the husband will be working the entire time. I plan on enjoying my work's holiday party this evening, getting most of my Christmas shopping finished, and cleaning the apartment. I'm also looking forward to just curling up on the couch reading and looking at our Christmas tree. What are you looking forward to? I'm sure you weekend will be more exciting than mine!

Getting Excited for Christmas: Our little Christmas Tree

Happy Wednesday! It's been a busy week, so I thought I'd share my little Christmas tree that we have in our bedroom. I love it because all I have to do is set it out and I'm done! I also traded some sad looking votives for two new candles that I got last year at Target after Christmas. They smell so good, and I like the added sparkle that they give. Yes, I know that it's a bit tacky, but it makes me happy...kind of like those tattered books below. And, yes, my husband is pretty darn tolerant. The upside is I think our apartment looks a bit better than last year. What decorations are getting you excited for Christmas?

Getting Excited for Christmas: West Elm Picks

I've never shopped at West Elm in person, but I found their online store a few weeks ago, and several items have caught my eye as perfect Christmas gifts.

For my grandmother who has no material needs whatsoever, but loves animals, I think this mug would be perfect. I think she will enjoy looking at the dogs on the mug, and half of the cost is donated to the SPCA. I also think that these bowls are so unique looking, and would be a lovely addition to any kitchen. And finally, a part of me really loves these cosmetics bags. I think they'd be perfect for my old college roommate who likes things with "an edge." I think these are nice because they aren't too "sweet." I was going to get the gray one for my sister, but they sold out too quickly! Are you a fan of West Elm?

Our Christmas Tree is up!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving break! I really enjoyed having the opportunity to go to my parents' home and visit with my family. My husband and I came back to our home on Saturday, which gave me time to put up our tree and start wrapping presents! I know our tree isn't fabulous looking, but I've had it since high school. My mom got it for 99 cents, and I enjoy putting it up every year!

In a moment of pure lunacy (originating from me), my sister, husband and I went to Target to participate in Black Friday at midnight. We were after a Kindle, and I don't think that the majority of the people there could have cared less, so after over an hour of standing outside, we headed back home. The good news is that they still had them the next morning! So, the husband has his Christmas shopping done. I am super excited about the Kindle; I think I'm going to get a lot of use. The selling feature for me is that any book written before 1923 is free, so I really think it's going to be cost effective. Did any of you participate in Black Friday or are starting to put your Christmas decorations up?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I get to leave work at 2:30 today, and I'm looking forward to cleaning up the apartment and getting ready for our trip home! I'm looking forward to being with my family and husband, and I'm especially eagerly anticipating hanging out with my sister. I love being with my family, and I'm truly blessed. Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving.

Thankful

Last night, I made two pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, and they made the apartment smell so good. Now, the real trick will be not eating them before the big day and making sure they actually make it to my parents' house. I bought the pie crusts that you have to place into the pie pan. It didn't turn out perfectly, so the husband thought I made the crust from scratch. It's funny how the hallmark of homemade things are their imperfections sometimes.

Sometimes I get really stressed out about the logistics of the holiday, which is why I appreciated being able to participate in the I'm thankful for...series. Here's some of the few things I'm so thankful for. I hope that you find a few moments to reflect amidst the preparations for family and friends.

Getting Excited for Christmas: Christmas Cards have been Ordered!

Going home for the weekend was really wonderful. Even though my mom is still in a decent amount of pain and has quite a bit of recovery to go, it was really great to see my family. I can't wait until this short week is over and we go home for Thanksgiving!

While at home, I did order our Christmas cards. I'm looking forward to when they arrive. I also set up a Christmas tree at my parents' house and started going through some of our Christmas decor and some of the things I purchased on sale last year. I'm looking forward to wrapping up a few gifts, but this year I'm going to really try to give things that are meaningful instead of just filling an obligation. I don't know how successful I will be though, because obligatory gifts definitely exist. I'm interested in hearing any ideas in how you give thoughtfully.

A Lucky Day!

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm looking forward to going home and seeing my sister and family this weekend. My mother had a hip replacement on Monday, so we're going home to see what we can do. Fortunately, she's progressing as planned, but the recovery is still quite a process and I think she's in a decent amount of pain. My brother and his wife live close by, so they have been doing quite a bit to help my parents. I'm happy that I only live a few hours and can go home relatively easily for the weekend. Also, I haven't seen my sister since Labor Day, and I miss her so.

In other news, I won something! To be specific, I won these four pillow covers from the lovely blog Roost. I truly cannot believe my good fortune. I rarely win anything, and if I do it's rarely useful. I've been nagging my husband about getting throw pillows for our new sofa that we bought a few months ago. I think that the colors will work beautifully. Even though pink is very feminine, my dear husband is nice enough to let me have pops of pink in the living room. In fact, he actually buys me pink accessories on rare occasion. See these little pink vases next to our t.v.? He bought those for me a few Christmases ago. I think that they will go well with our new pillow covers! Here's wishing you a happy weekend!

Late to the Party: Something Borrowed

My husband likes to save money by only seeing movies via Netflix. So, I hadn't seen Something Borrowed. I didn't think I would like it very much, since the idea of cheating really bothers me. Cheating with one's best friend's finace bothers me even more. But, the husband was working late last night, so I decided to watch it. And it wasn't actually that bad. I actually thought that all the actors and actresses did a great job, and it was perfectly cast. Any other movies that you've been surprised you liked?

Getting Excited for Christmas: Holiday Stamps

I care about a lot of trivial things, one of those being stamps. Specifically, I like to send cards with "cute stamps" that match the occasion. The problem is though, that you have to go to the post office to get cute stamps, and I'm at work when the post office is open. (Which might be why I found myself "stocking up" on the flower forever stamps like a crazy person before the husband and I moved to D.C.)

Unfortunately, I got inspired by the holiday themed stamps that the U.S. Post Office issued and really wanted them them for our holiday cards. Enter ordering stamps online. All you have to do is go to the website, and for a dollar for shipping, those stamps will be in your mailbox in a few days. Considering I don't have a post office I can go to during the day, and the lines that you have to stand in anyways, I'm happy to pay this dollar. And aren't they lovely? I can't wait to put them on our holiday cards! Anybody else particular about something mundane?

Decor for the Husband's Office

The husband has a pretty nice office, but it's extremely barren. Considering how much time he spends there, I asked him if there was anything he'd like to bring in. He requested a cactus and a picture of either our undergraduate school or his beloved VA Tech stadium. Sounds easy enough, right? I didn't really know where to find a cactus, but I thought that maybe Lowe's or Home Depot would sell them. But I didn't know where either of those stores were in our new locale. And I'm not going to lie, driving in NoVa on a weekend scares me a bit when I have no clue where I'm going. I did discover a Home Depot, and aren't these cacti cute...err masculine?

Then all I had to do was figure out a picture. Since we already own three VA Tech framed pictures, not to mention all of the other paraphernalia, finding a photo we didn't already have was tough. So, the husband decided he'd rather have one of our undergraduate institution. I made a collage, and I think that it came out pretty well. The husband actually liked everything, and now both items are happily living in the office. Anybody else have any ideas for making an office feel more personable?

Macarons: Part Three

So, to continue the insanity, I decided that I wanted to try making macarons one more time. This recipe gave me hope that they weren't that hard. And you know what? For someone who doesn't cook regularly and her baking involves mixes, I think they turned out beautifully. The husband even remarked that they tasted as good as the ones you buy. Well, he will certainly be getting some more macarons sometime soon. I had some issues piping them onto the wax paper, but by the second pan, I was getting slightly more adept. By no means did they turn out perfectly, but I can see feet, they at least resemble macarons, and they are tasty! Maybe the third time is the charm? I can't wait to try another batch with food coloring...I'm thinking red for Christmas!

Another Friday!

Happy Friday! I guess the husband's weekend will be pretty full of work this weekend too, and I think my weekend will be pretty quiet. However, I think we're going to try to go out with some of his co-workers this evening to celebrate all the passages of the Bar.

I am going to attempt to make macarons again, if only to provide me some entertainment. Also, the mess ups taste pretty delicious, and the hubby isn't picky about how they look. I also fully expect to be taking full advantage of my Netflix instant play, and to get some cleaning done around the apartment. Hopefully, we will just have a minute or two to just relax. What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Coffee Tables

The husband and I have been thinking about getting a coffee table. You wouldn't think this would be a very big deal, but it is. Typically, the husband doesn't like coffee tables, since he thinks they block a lot of open space. However, we both agree that they are handy to store the remote control and to put drinks on, etc. I've thought about putting a large upholstered ottoman there, two little ottomans, or two little tables, but I think a coffee table would be best, since we want a place to be able to play board games and we don't have a kitchen or dining room table. Ahh, the joys of apartment living. I don't think we're going to get one anytime soon, but I like to dream. One of our limitations is that the coffee table must be wood/look like wood. Obviously, I didn't set this stipulation...

Here's what the space looks like: See, plenty of space for a coffee table, right? Also note that the husband is busily working away, trying to ignore me.
Option 1: I love this coffee table from Pier 1; I think that the rounded edges feminize the space a little bit. I don't think the husband will go for it though, and it's almost two hundred dollars. But isn't she lovely? Option 2: The other option is to buy the coffee table from Target that matches are entertainment stand. I know that having things match too much is bad, but I feel that just buying another random table might feel chaotic. And this one is just under one hundred dollars.
Option 3: And finally, we could spend a mere twenty dollars at Ikea. It might not last forever, but at least if we don't like it, we'd only be out twenty dollars.
I'd love to hear which one you would choose or any suggestions!

A Few Flowers

Last Friday, I picked up a few flowers from Whole Foods when I bought the ingredients to make macarons. I love fresh flowers, even though they're a waste of money, and I'm still enjoying them. Look what one little five dollar bouquet can do.

On my nightstand: I really love waking up to these, instead of just seeing the alarm clock glaring at me.

In the bathroom:

And next to the tv: I don't think the husband was as amused.What's your favorite pick-me-up? Can a few carnations brighten your day, or do you prefer something else?

A Baking Success and a Baking Failure

So, the macarons that my friend and I made this weekend didn't turn out perfectly. They did, however, taste really good! I bought the super expensive Almond Meal (literally costs 14.00 at Whole Foods), and I think that made a huge difference from the time I made them two summers ago. When I made them two summers ago I had really NO baking experience, but I was able to get the egg whites to peak. My friend and I struggled with that yesterday, which gives me hope that I might not actually be a complete klutz in the kitchen. Even though I went home yesterday convinced that I would never attempt to make macarons again, I think the husband has convinced me that I might want to try again. But I think he just wants to eat some more malformed macarons. So to be continued...

In other news, a super easy treat that I blogged about early were Oreo cupcakes. Mine actually turned out like the inspiration! These turned out great and I made them twice because they were such an easy but fun treat before Halloween. Anybody else have any recent successes or failures in the kitchen? I'm trying to think up a Christmas treat to make my co-workers in the office, and right now all I can think up is peppermint bark.

What's up for the weekend!

The husband will be busy working all weekend, so I've decided that I'll be watching Jane Austen's Emma on instant play via Netflix. I've been reading the book on the Metro, and that's made me want to watch the movie again. I think it will be a fun distraction in between the usual errands and cleaning that takes place on a typical Saturday.

I'm also planning on getting together with a friend to make macaroons. I've tried to make them before, but they didn't end up cooking properly. Hopefully, the two of us can figure them out this time! What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Seven Years!

It's been seven years since the husband and I first started dating. We've been through undergrad together, my grad school, his law school, three years of me teaching, time living far apart, time living near each other, time dating, time engaged, and now time married. They've been the best seven years of my life.

A Very Late Weekend Recap!

I usually don't recap the weekend, since most of my weekends consist of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and just hanging out (not exactly thrilling activities, but I like them anyways). Of course, my weekend included those things, but the husband and I did venture to the Air and Space Museum and the Botanical Gardens on Sunday after "surviving" the Saturday snow. Even though we live really close to D.C., we really are bad about getting out and doing stuff.Most importantly, though, we made a trip down to Richmond for a short visit with my parents and also for the husband's swearing in ceremony. I took the day off to be with him and see my parents. It was really wonderful to have the extra time, and I enjoyed being home for just the short time.

Sometimes just an extra day can give you such perspective and some renewed energy. We arrived back home by four, which gave me just enough time to register our car (something I haven't been able to do because of the M-F, 9-5 hours). It's funny how little things can give me such a sense of accomplishment. I feel the same way when I get to go to the Post Office. Do you have any errands like that?

*Photos from Google Images

All about Argyle!

With the cooler weather (and even snow on Saturday), the husband and I have both started to break out our winter clothes. Lately, it seems that there has been quite a bit of argyle making it's way into our home. I'm really shocked that the husband likes argyle, since I feel that it's a little progressive for him. It's kind of fun to see what he gravitates towards now that he is assembling a work wardrobe.

Exhibit A: The husband purchased this from Banana Republic in a light gray and purple. Surprisingly, the color combination looks nice on him. But again, something I'd never have thought he'd like in a million years.Exhibit B: Shockingly, he also suggested that he'd enjoy wearing some argyle socks. Again, since I'm a fan of argyle, I didn't hesitate to pick some up at Target over the weekend. When I told him they were three dollars, he wondered if I could pick up some more! (This is quite a surprise for the husband who already has a plethora of black socks and really just doesn't buy clothes). I'm happy to oblige, though. Exhibit C: And of course, I had to get myself a little argyle, and couldn't resist this pink and navy cardigan. Anybody else ever surprised by what your significant other chooses? Or any loving argyle this season?

J.Crew Factory Sale: Some Fall Picks

I used to adore J.Crew, but for the past few seasons I hadn't bought anything from them. They're just so expensive! However J.Crew has had their Factory Sale running all this week, and I couldn't help but take a few minutes to look at some of the items. I don't really need anything, but sometimes it's fun to look.

First up, I really love this shirt. I adore navy blue and pink. This looks so cozy for a lazy Saturday with jeans. It's too much to pay for a Saturday shirt, but I do like it.I also think the pattern for this pencil skirt for fall would be lovely for work. Finally, I love this scarf. The pattern seems great for fall, but I just love the colors. Anything from J.Crew catching your eye lately?

A Parents' Visit and Some Zucchini Quich

It's Wednesday, and I'm going to meet up with my parents this evening, since my dad is coming up for a conference. Last night I cleaned up the apartment, made some zucchini quiche, and baked some cinnamon crumb muffins. My zucchini quiche didn't end up looking that impressive as this picture, but considering I've never made it, I was just pleased that it tasted good (I snuck a bite). Mine was crustless and it involved bisquick. The recipe seems easy enough, but we will see what the parents think. I am really looking forward to the visit, since this is the first time they've seen our new place! What's making you happy this Wednesday?