A Meal for a Friend

Because I live a quiet life, I'm really dragging this out, but as I mentioned I brought my friend a meal on Sunday.  Cooking really isn't my strength, so I truly agonized over what to bring.  I realized that she loves butternut squash soup, so I decided to build a menu around that. 
I whipped up my favorite harvest salad and also baked some cinnamon muffins. I also picked up some bread, apple cider, and anything interesting that I saw at Trader Joe's.  (I definitely went a little overboard.)
I  wanted to bring her some flowers, and I thought the hydrangeas were perfect.
I put all the food in a basket that I bought from Michael's, and that was a great way to easily transport everything (and my friend really liked the basket).
I plan on bringing her another meal in a few weeks, so if anyone has any ideas for other meals, I'd love to hear them!  Even though my friend is adjusting great, I think it's always nice to have friends do special things during this time.

Weekend Recap!

This weekend was relatively busy, but refreshing. My sister and her boyfriend arrived on Friday night, and we visited and had a late dinner of pizza.  We were up early on Saturday for a 5k, and then we headed to Tyson's Corner to do a little shopping and have an early lunch at Seasons 52. We stopped by Trader Joe's for some dinner and snack treats, and then we went back to our apartment to regroup. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to visit the zoo.  Our first stop was the pandas.  They were up to their usual activities: sleeping and eating.

I seriously think the pandas are so funny.
We then walked by the elephants and through the bird exhibit.  The highlights included the oriole and the peacock.
We had hoped to see the tigers and lions, but it was later in the day, so we missed them.  My sister was willing to patiently pose by a bear with me, and I also convinced the husband to stand my the metal frog. 
My sister and her boyfriend had an early flight out, so we had a relaxed Sunday night, but it was just really nice to spend time with her. 

On Sunday, I drove down to visit my friend and bring her a little meal.  I was able to see her beautiful baby boy and we had a really nice visit.  All in all, it was a lovely weekend!

Five for Friday!

I'm so happy to do a five for Friday post.  For some reason, it just makes me feel like I'm in a routine!

First up, I'm very excited that my sister is coming to visit this weekend.  It's going to be a short visit (she's flying up Friday night and leaving Sunday morning), but I'm determined that we are going to enjoy every minute of it. We are planning on running a 5k together, and I have high hopes that we are going to go to District Taco for dinner.  It's not fancy, but I think it's delicious!

Second, I bought this print from Emily Ley, and I'm so excited to frame it and hang it up somewhere. It says "Happiness is the result of favorable circumstances, joy is the outpouring of a contented heart."  It is too cheesy for the husband, but it makes me happy.
Third, on Sunday afternoon I'm also looking forward to bringing food to my friend who just had a baby.  She loves all things fall and butternut squash soup is her favorite, so I plan on packaging up a special autumn themed meal.  I picked up this pumpkin seed brittle from Trader Joe's last weekend, and I think that it will be a fun little snack to add to her basket.  I won't be making everything from scratch (or most things!), but I think that the thought is what counts. I'm also hoping that I can finally meet her baby boy!
Fourth, I've been loving the cooler weather.  I bought a sweater in this camel color a few weeks ago from the Loft and love it.  I also think this Old Navy one is pretty cute.
Finally, I never did a recap of last weekend, but it was a busy one for me!  My parents and my mom's friend came up on Saturday and we visited the Capitol, the Library of Congress and the National Archives.  They came back to the apartment for lunch and then they were off to Arlington National Cemetery and I was off to an evening work event.  It was great to see my parents, even if it wasn't a long visit. 

So those are my five for Friday!  What are you looking forward to this weekend?

A Very Belated Anniversary Recap

Our wedding anniversary was September 6th, but with everything that happened this month, I never got around to doing a post about it.

For our anniversary we were originally planning on having a quiet weekend, and going out to dinner, but my father-in-law received an upsetting diagnosis. As a result, we decided to go visit him for the weekend.  While it was quite different than what I was expecting, it was the right thing to do. We just spent time together and of course on Saturday night we watched the VA Tech game.  I never watch football, but since the whole family was together, that was the activity.  It was a really great game, and I enjoyed watching.  Since they won, everyone was in a really good mood.

When we got married, our groom's cake was a VT and we served cupcakes as our wedding cake, so I loved it when I saw this VT cupcake cake to have as an anniversary treat. I think it properly celebrated the occasion!
The Groom's Cake
Our anniversary "cupcake cake"
On a joyful note, my friend whose shower I helped with had her baby boy early and it ended up being on our anniversary! We also saw a second rainbow that day.
Driving home, we both couldn't help but admire the beauty of Virginia.
How have you been doing lately?


Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23
The other morning I saw this view and it really calmed me.  Isn't renewing how each new day is a fresh start?

A Quiet Weekend/Thoughts on Decluttering

These past few weeks we've had some stressful life events, but this weekend was actually quiet and relaxing.  It started off well with  finding out that my husband won't be traveling abroad today as originally scheduled!  I was so happy not to have to say goodbye to him for at least a few more weeks.

I mainly did errands, some cooking, some jogging, and attempted to clean out a little bit of clutter.  On Saturday, the husband actually cleaned while I was grocery shopping, so that made it easier to try to sort through things.  We are having company this upcoming weekend, so that is always a motivating factor.

I went through my books and actually got rid of a few.  (The impetus for this project is that when we came home last weekend, a pile of books had fallen under their own weight.) Yes, an intervention was definitely needed. For some reason, it is so hard for me to acknowledge that a certain part of my life of being a student and teacher is over.  Truly, I am not going to sit down and read a few Eastern European poems, but I'm not completely ready to donate them yet.  Silly, isn't it? 

I also went through the closet, where the denial continued, but I finally worked up the courage to get rid of one cardigan and a few other things.  The husband is much better about this and donated four of his dress shirts.  I love our apartment, and definitely enjoy it more when we have less clutter lying around.  Sometimes when I need encouragement to donate things, I find a lot of inspiration from this post.  How do you motivate yourself to clear out clutter?  Even though I think I'm good at it, sometimes I hit roadblocks, and then I find myself searching Target.com to see if I should put a little bookshelf in a small little nook.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's the last thing I need.

What's Cooking Wednesday: Grilled Salmon with Honey Soy Marinade

While we were in Maine, I picked a night to cook dinner for the husband and his grandma.  Since I'm not the best cook in the world, I was definitely feeling the pressure!   Originally, I was going to make this salmon recipe, but I could not find the Chinese mustard anywhere.  That definitely threw me for a loop, so I decided that I needed to find a recipe that was similar, but didn't require any fancy ingredients.  After some searching I found this one, which I'm happy to report, turned out well.  I actually like it better than the other one I make all the time, but the husband still insists that the first one is better.  Either way, I'm glad to have this recipe on hand, in case I can't find Chinese mustard!

It's pretty easy, which is exactly what I need.  I marinated the salmon fillets in the following mixture for about 20 minutes:

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive 
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Then you just broil the salmon for about four minutes on each side and enjoy!  Have you tried any good fish recipes?  I think that they are ideal for cooking on weekdays.

After the Rain: Rainbows in the District

I hope that everyone has a lovely weekend!  This week has been overwhelming for some pretty serious reasons, but I have faith that somehow everything will end up okay. Last weekend, we saw this rainbow, and it's a happy reminder for me, so I thought I'd share.

What's Cooking Wednesday: Roasted Teriyaki Broccoli and Sticky Seasame Wings

Over the weekend, I looked through my blog, and I noticed that the Wednesday cooking posts really help me stay on track with trying new dishes, so this fall, I'm going to give try to post these regularly.

With the extra time this weekend, I decided to try a roasted teriyaki broccoli and some sticky seasame wings for the husband.  I have to say that I thought the broccoli turned out really well.  In the past, I've always cooked it by steaming it, but roasting really seems the way to go.  I was inspired by this recipe, but I made it a little more unhealthy.

Roasted Teriyaki Broccoli
I took a bag of pre-washed broccoli, mixed it with two tablespoons of minced garlic, and coated it with olive oil and teriyaki sauce.  I then sprinkled it with some black pepper and cooked it at 425 for about 20 minutes. It really doesn't get any easier than that, but it was definitely tasty!

Sticky Seasame Wings
For the sticky seasame wings, I used this recipe but I doubled the sauce and I added extra honey (this was my second time making it). The husband enjoyed both dishes, and I was happy that I made at least one somewhat balanced meal.  The great thing about both of these dishes is the ingredients are pretty simple, and besides the broccoli, chicken, hoisin sauce and seasame seeds, I didn't have to buy anything extra. 

Have you been cooking anything good lately?  I know it sounds silly, but just finding a recipe to make is really the most difficult thing for me, so I'm always interested to know what other people love to cook!

Celebrating Football Season: VA Tech Wreaths!

This past weekend meant the beginning of football season, which I personally am not interested in, but the husband lives for VA Tech.  To amuse myself while the husband was watching the games, I decided to make a VA Tech themed wreath.  Originally I was inspired by this fall wreath, but I have a hard time acknowledging that autumn is actually here and I thought the husband might be more tolerant of my shenanigans if it relates to one of his interests. I got a little carried away at the store, and I actually bought enough supplies to make two wreaths.  Here's what I ended up with.
I'm decidedly not a crafty person, so all things considered, I actually think these turned out pretty well.  Have you been doing any fall decorating or are you still holding onto summer?