Five for Friday

I'm afraid I don't have too much inspiration for this Friday, but here is what's on my mind (besides looking forward to a three-day weekend)!

1. A care package from my sister!  She sent me two exercise skirts to motivate me.  I truly am so blessed to have a sister like her. I don't know what I would do without my family. 

2.Thai takeout.  The husband has worked some really grueling hours this week/been traveling, so I haven't done any cooking.  On the one night he was home, we splurged on some takeout on Thursday evening, which was a real treat.
3. This bracelet from C. Wonder is a pretty little gem to look at this Friday. And it's an extra 50% off the sale price. I think I'm attracted to pink and gold colored jewelry right now. I think some shopping might be in my future this weekend. 
4. I started my graduate class this week.  It's bittersweet to be in a classroom full of teachers, but I think it's going to be good for me.  I might have spent a thrilling Thursday night re-reading parts of When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do. You know, just to get myself in the spirit of things.
5.  This weekend!  I'm planning to visit my parents on Saturday, and then the husband and I are going to get to see two of our really good friends on Sunday night.  I can't wait!

Happy Labor Day!  I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

What's Cooking Wednesday: A Tale of Two Chicken Recipes

For some reason, I'd never really tried cooking chicken for the husband until I started this series.  While he eats his fair share of chicken wings, I'm definitely excited that I'm finding recipes that don't come out of a bag from Tysons.

Flipping through my Ina Garten Foolproof cookbook that I received from Christmas, I decided to make her crispy mustard chicken. From what I could tell, it looked like the recipe turned out, but the husband was not a fan. I've finally figured out that he prefers chicken that has more of an emphasis on sauce, which is why Giada de Laurentiis's sweet and spicy chicken was such a success. So, with that said, I won't be making the mustard chicken again. Although, from what I can see online, it looks like lots of people like this recipe, so you might want to give it a try. (The husband is the first to admit that he's pretty picky, which is why cooking for him is a bit challenging for me).

After that debacle, I really needed a chicken recipe to work to boost my self-esteem a little bit, so I tried Puttin' on the G.R.I.T.S' teriyaki chickenWhile the husband didn't like it as much as the sweet and spicy chicken wings, he did enjoy them and said it's something he would be happy eating again.  I thought this recipe was super easy, and definitely be something you could pop in the oven after work (although it does take an hour and fifteen minutes to cook).  So there you have it, one success and one failure.  The upside is that I'm slowly getting a few more recipes to add to my recipe box, which makes me irrationally happy. Do you have any go to chicken recipes?   I'd love to try them!

Weekend Recap: A Trip to Ikea

This weekend went by so quickly!  The husband had to work, but I was able to get some errands and cleaning done.  I also spent Sunday with a good friend and we went outlet shopping and walked around Ikea.  I've come to the conclusion that we don't really need anything else for our apartment, and I'm also trying to be really mindful with what I bring into it.  However, I couldn't resist these spice jars.
I know they are stacked kind of oddly, but I love that at least everything is uniform.  Because of the height of the cabinet, I don't really have another option, so I'm finally at peace with it.

While at Ikea, I saw a few other things that I would love to have brought home with me.  I've seen these shoe cabinets featured in quite a few homes, and I think they are so useful.  If we had a place that would make sense for one, I'd definitely be buying one because they seem so handy.
I'm not in the market for curtains, but I thought these were pretty, yet still traditional.
All in all, it was a lot of fun to see my friend and spend some time browsing.  How was your weekend?  I hope your week is off to a good start!

Five for Friday!

It's finally Friday, so here are my five!  

1. Lemon water- I used to drink a lot of Crystal Light, but a few weeks ago I switched to just squeezing half a lemon in a pitcher of water. It tastes just as good, and I know it's better for me.  I love that at Trader Joe's you can buy a whole bag of lemons for less than three dollars.

2. Real Simple's September issue.  I checked my mailbox this week, and I had this magazine waiting for me.  It is such a useful issue! They had some really great ideas for cleaning tips and also a great section about the "numbers" of home decorating.  I'll definitely be saving both of these articles for future reference. 

3. Parking pass- After two years at my work, I finally have a parking pass underneath my building!  This is so exciting because it means I won't have to walk a half mile each way to get to my car every day.  A little extra sleep and time at home is such a gift. 
4. This past weekend, the husband updated his part of the closet.  A few bags of things he's never going to wear are going to Goodwill, and he was able to get a few shirts and pants that actually fit him properly.  Even though he  has less stuff, it's getting to be more functional. Now, I just have to get all that stuff to the Goodwill!
5. A made-up bed.  The husband goes to work after I do, so I usually come home to an unmade bed.  Even though he's been really busy, he's made up the bed this week before work, which is so thoughtful.
This weekend I'm looking forward to catching up with one of my good friends and also savoring one of the last weekends of summer.  Happy Friday!

Whats Cooking Wednesday: Mongolian Beef

 During the first year that the husband and I were married, I tried to make a few Thai dishes which always ended in disaster.  It was very frustrating for me, as not only were the meals inedible, but it was a waste of ingredients and money when we were on a tighter budget.  After a few failures, I stopped trying to make Thai food, and focused on simpler things.  However, I feel that I've gotten a little bit better (or at least braver) at cooking, so when I saw this recipe for Mongolian beef I felt inspired.  Scarred by my past failures, I wanted to make something that had reviews from other cooks, so I found this recipe at All Recipes and gave it a try.

I ended up making this on a weeknight and it took me about an hour to make from start to finish (I'm a little slower than most because I am still learning).  You end up dirtying three pans (one for the meat, one for the sauce and one for the rice), so that also slows down clean up.  With that said, I think it's worth it.  The husband was pretty enthusiastic about the dish and even ended up taking the leftovers for lunch.  While it's not a meal I'd make too frequently, I think it's good to make once every month or two.  I was just relieved that I could make something that was Asian inspired after all my failures! 

Weekend Recap

This weekend was pretty low-key.  Since the husband got home late on Friday night from his trip, I ended up getting to put four miles in on the treadmill and tidied up the apartment, which was a productive start to the weekend.  Saturday was the usual laundry and errands with date night. Sunday afternoon I did some more errands, cleaning, and the husband and I got another run in.  I did have some returns to do on Sunday, and while I was out, I checked out a few other stores at the mall.  I've been trying to not buy as many clothes because I really don't need anything, but it's always fun to see what's out there.  Fortunately, I wasn't too tempted by BR or Ann Taylor.  I did want to stop by the Loft, but I realized that I would probably fall down the rabbit hole if I went there. In particular, this dress has made it onto my wishlist.
I also checked out J.Crew.  The clearance section was pretty picked over, but I did see these little pieces.  The leather seemed nice to me, and I seriously thought about picking up the little pouch and passport case for my friend who loves purple and traveling.
I resisted though, because Christmas and her birthday are still pretty far off! If  these pieces go down in price a bit further, I might have to take the plunge.  How was your weekend?

Five for Friday!

This week has been catching up with lots of things at work and preparing for a busy fall. I'm afraid this means I don't have a whole lot of inspiration for this week, but here are my five for Friday!

1. I signed up for a grad class this fall.   It's been a few years since I've taken any, so I'm a bit nervous about that and dealing with my work schedule, but I'm excited too!

2. A card from my sister.  I thought it was so cute, and it made me really happy to see this waiting in the mailbox for me.

3. I had this strawberry and brie salad for lunch a few times this week and it was delicious.  The rest of the week, I've been enjoying a caprese salad.

4. Preparing for the 10k that the husband and I signed up for. My training took a brief hiatus when I strained my neck, but now I'm hopefully back on track!  It's really motivating to have something to prepare for. 

5. The husband is coming back from a brief business trip tonight! Even though he wasn't gone long, it's always nice when he comes home.

 What are you looking forward to this weekend?  We've been having some beautiful weather, so I want to spend some time outside after being cooped up at work all week!

What's Cooking Wednesday: Easiest Shredded BBQ Beef

Even though I've only done a few recipes in this series, I think there is an obvious theme:  I need it to be easy.  I want a quick recipe that isn't too difficult, because I'm really hoping that someday the husband and I can move past tuna sandwiches, mac and cheese, and soup for dinner someday.  I think there is nothing better than having a home cooked meal at the end of a long day at work, but at the end of a long day at work, I personally don't feel like cooking for hours. 

This recipe for shredded BBQ beef might be the mecca of all recipes. It was suggested by my good friend, Culinary Cassie, and it is truly perfect for the husband.  I was dubious when I started the recipe, but it literally consists of buying a roast, adding some apple cider vinegar (which I actually already had on hand), and then putting it in the slow cooker.  After it cooks, you shred it and dump in some BBQ sauce.  Seriously, I don't think it gets any easier than that. Raw meat grosses me out, so I was not amused in the morning putting everything in the slow cooker before I went to work, but when I got home, I was a believer!  This is an amazing weeknight meal that lasts the husband a few days, and is perfect in the summer with some corn on the cob or some baked beans. 

A few picks from Anthropologie

Even though everything at Anthropologie isn't my style, on occasion, I really enjoy walking around the store.  They definitely have such unique items, and I think it can be inspiring.  I was searching for something this weekend online, and I found that there are a few things that caught my eye for myself or as gifts. It makes me want to go visit the store sometime soon!  I'll definitely be making the trek there before Christmas time!
1. Love these earrings for myself.  They are on sale for $15, so it's not a bad price either.  Fortunately, I don't need them or I might be really tempted.
2. I think this little dish is so cute and would be perfect in our bathroom.
3. These bath salts are packaged so elegantly, and they would be nice as part of a little gift for a friend.
4. This trinket dish reminds me of my friend who loves all things French!

What do you think of Anthropologie?  It can be a dangerous place for me!

Weekend Recap: The Baltimore Aquarium!

The husband didn't have to do too much work on Saturday, so we took advantage of the free time, and headed up to Baltimore.  The inner harbor was really nice, and it was just nice to be by the water. 

I was kind of obsessed with these dragon paddle boats.  For some reason, I  thought they were so cute. 
I had never been the the Baltimore Aquarium, but I've wanted to go for awhile.  It didn't fail to impress.  Even though the admissions fee is kind of steep, (I've been spoiled by all the free things to do in D.C.) it was still worth it.  The husband and I pretended that this little day trip was a vacation, to justify the splurge.  That might also explain the overload of pictures.  

I loved seeing the tropical fish the best. The highlight of this exhibit was when the divers swam with the fish.  Then, right below us, one of the divers held up a sign in front of a couple.  It turned out that it we were witnessing a marriage proposal!  It was touching to see, and I can only imagine how much planning it must have taken to orchestrate the proposal.

The husband was awestruck by the sharks.  He couldn't get over their teeth, which I have to admit is pretty scary looking.
I also thought that the jelly fish were pretty, but the exhibit talked about how they were disturbing the ecosystem.
After walking through all the exhibits, we headed over to Yolly Molly, a cute frozen yogurt place.  We sat by the water and then headed back to D.C.  It was a really fun day trip, and I hope to go back  to Baltimore soon!  How was your weekend?  It's hard to believe that these are the last few days of summer.

J.Crew Factory Store: Dreaming of Some Sparkles

Have you all checked out J.Crew's Factory jewelry?  I know I've blogged about it before, but I really love some of their pieces.  I think this necklace is really beautiful with the gray and pink.
I also really like these earrings (which are less than 10 dollars!). I think they would be a nice gift for my mom. 
This necklace is also fun with the green and blue.
I won't be buying any of these pieces anytime soon because I'm taking a bit of a shopping break, but it's always fun to look!  I'm afraid that I'm distracted by the shiny things. What's your weakness?

What's Cooking Wednesday: Sweet and Spicy Chicken Drumettes

As I mentioned on Monday, this past weekend I made some chicken wings for the husband.  I've actually tried a few other chicken recipes lately, but they haven't suited the husband's taste.  Well, this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis was a home run.  Because I was feeling under the weather, I think this recipe felt harder to make than it actually is, but even with all the effort I felt I expended, it was worth it.  The husband is always appreciative when I try to make something edible for him, but for this recipe, I think he thanked me four times throughout the evening.  And he might have eaten 8 wings, which is a lot for him. The only thing tricky about this recipe is that you have to marinate it for three hours, so it's definitely a weekend recipe or something you make the night before and then pop in the oven.  If you like chicken wings, I'd definitely give this one a try! 

Combating the Clutter

I'm always on the perpetual hunt to eliminate clutter from our apartment, but my sister has quite kindly pointed out a few years ago that I love to get rid of everyone's clutter except my own.  And  that's exactly how I am.  While dusting my books and inspired from reading this post over the weekend, I realized that there were several books that I didn't need because they've been downloaded to my Kindle or, if I'm being honest, have no real reason for me to keep.  They aren't bad books; it's just they aren't books I'd choose to read again.  Even though I'd gone through my books twice in the past year, I was surprised at how many I'd been inadvertently hoarding.  I have a good friend who I know would enjoy reading a few of them, and I also know that my mom might enjoy some, so they will find a good home soon. 
I also tackled some of my winter clothes.  I have a hard time getting rid of some clothes because sometimes it's difficult for me to recognize that the clothing has seen better days.  And then there are a few other things that don't fit me exactly right that I'm holding out hope for.  While I didn't go crazy culling through my clothes, I was able to find a few things that really needed to be passed on.  I was also to re-discover a few of my clothes that I really love but haven't worn in a while. How do you keep clutter from piling up?  I think it's amazing how much extra space you can gain just by going through a few things.

Weekend Recap

This weekend was pretty low-key, as the husband had to work a lot of the weekend, and I felt under the weather so I wasn't up for much.  One good thing though, is that I was able to get my hair cut, and it feels so much better to have it shorter!  I also successfully made a chicken wings recipe for the husband, and I treated myself to this little orchid.  Yes, it's sad but true; this little orchid might be the highlight of the weekend.  I had been thinking an orchid would look nice on our dresser, and so when I saw this one on sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't resist.
I think it balances everything out quite nicely.  I had another vase there for awhile, but the husband wasn't a fan, and it didn't really go with the room (so I found it another home in the living room). I think this is much better, plus it's fun to have an actual plant.
We will see how long I keep this alive.  Does anyone have any good tips? I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Five for Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!  Even though my work slows down a little bit during the summer, I'm always relieved to find that it's Friday. This week has been pretty low-key, but here are five for Friday!

1. Being finished with the dentist for the next six months!  I went for my check up about a month ago, and now I'm all done with the fillings that I had to have.  I had been bad about going when we moved up here two years ago, and I'm relieved that I'm back on track!

2. Finally finding shirts that fit the husband properly.  He's tall and thin (lucky him!).  It turns out that Banana Republic's tailored, slim fit non-iron dress shirts are the perfect fit. I'm just relieved that I don't have to iron them for him, because that gets pretty time consuming (not that I would know, because I always buy him the non-iron shirts and pants).

3. Getting this skirt on sale, when it was an additional 50 percent off.  I'm still waiting for it to arrive, but I'm excited that it went down in price, so I could even see if it is an option.

4. Doing a little weeknight cooking.  The husband was away for three nights this week, so I figured that I could handle the other two, or at least try.

5. Getting cards sent out for birthdays, a friend's anniversary, and just because.  It always makes me feel good that I'm organized enough to remember some of the important events in people's lives.

What's been going on in your week?  I hope you have a lovely weekend!