Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ready for 2011

I'm a big fan of fresh starts. Being the Non-Type A that I am, I tend to live my life in a state of controlled chaos at all times. In some ways, it's a good thing... I'm almost always up for trying new things and I think that a lot of my creativity comes from the absence of self-inflicted regimens. However, I'll be the first to admit that lacking that structure does have a tendency to blow up in my face from time-to-time.

A new year means fresh starts and, along with it, that pesky "r-word" we all love to hate: resolutions.

As a lover of fresh starts, I like the idea of resolutions, but don't find myself ever making hard and fast rules (i.e. go to gym 3x per week). I'm more of the "work out more" or "make better financial decisions" type of resolutionist. I know the first principle of goal making is to make them specific and quantifiable, but I need my plans to have a little more flexibility to them.

I read a blog post a few days ago that has been stuck in the back of brain ever since. It was about choosing a word (or phrase) that you want to represent your year. So instead of saying "go to the gym 3x per week" maybe you make your word "active". The great thing about "active", for example, is that it can mean so much more than just sweating it out at the gym. It can be joining a crossfit group or running and playing outside with your children. It seeks to achieve the goal without the restraints of a gym. In my opinion, it's a much more positive way to set a goal for yourself and is so much more conducive to a non-regimented lifestyle.

So, drumroll please... I have decided that my word for 2011 will be "ready".

I know. Kind of an odd choice, but hear me out...

I love my life. I love the spontaneity, the adventures, and the passion with which I live it. I would never want any of that to change, however it would be nice if I could keep all of that but maybe cut the chaos back a tad. Ready can have so many meanings and I love that.

From the big things...
  • Being financially stable and ready for unexpected hits like replacing the air conditioner in my car.
  • Always being ready and prepared for all meetings and client interactions.
  • Paying attention to details like parking tickets, so I'm ready if say I were to hypothetically get pulled over for speeding. (I'm so bad about this type of thing, but luckily have always had nice officers that remind me that I have an outstanding ticket instead of hauling my butt to the slammer.)
To the little things... 
  • Making sure I'm ready to hop in the car and go wherever I need to by filling my gas tank up before I run out*. 
  • Readily having $$ at my fingertips. For me this means always knowing where my debit card is and having an emergency $20 stashed in my car and at home.
  • Budgeting properly so I'm not only prepared for 'blah' things like car repairs, but also ready for fun opportunities like last minute trips with friends.
*I have run out of gas 4-5 times in the last year and a half or so. One week I ran out twice in the same week.

And even the superficial things...
  • Always getting ready head-to-toe before leaving the house. This is a big one for me. I typically do my makeup at the office right before a meeting. Sometimes I don't even put it on all day. This has bit me in the ass on multiple occasions... one disastrous morning** sticks out in particular.
  • Having emergency makeup stashed in my car, just in case the aforementioned doesn't happen.
  • Being ready for bikini season before summer is halfway over this year.
  • Getting ready for bed every night by taking my contacts out and washing my face so I'm not blind and wrinkly when I'm old. {and brushing my teeth, obviously- that one is a given!}
**One of my most embarrassing moments involved running into an ex the morning after a particularly fun wedding. The girls and I were post-gaming the wedding over pizza bagels at Einstein's when he walked in dressed for church with his new girlfriend. I was in my pj's, wearing the jewelry from the night before with hair sticking up everywhere and mascara smeared all over my face. My friends said my face went white when I saw him walking in, and they were laughing at me so hard they were crying. Erika's exact words to me when he walked off were "Natty, you're a beautiful girl, but I don't think you could possibly look any worse than you do right now". Never. Again.

For me being ready is sort of all-encompassing. From working out, to budgeting, to having my hair blown out in case of a last-minute girls night or date- I think it is a good theme for the year. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, being prepared and ready actually lends itself to taking further advantage of spontaneous opportunities.  If you have cash in the bank and a closet full of clean clothes, it makes throwing stuff in a bag and heading to Vegas on a whim all that much easier, right? 

So there is my version of a New Years Resolution. Feel free to join in the fun if you'd like. It's actually kind of interesting to think about where you are in your life and what one word would sum up the direction you would like your year to head. Other words I've seen are "savor", "acceptance", "relax", and "accomplish". As strange a choice as it may seem, I feel like ready is the right word for me.

What would your word for 2011 be?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Moose Monday

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! I took this shot of moose and the baby sleeping on Christmas Eve wearing their season's finest.

We had a wonderful weekend and I'm back at work today trying to wrap up the year and get organized for 2011. (always quite a feat for me!)

First plan of attack: my desk! I just took some horrendous before photos in hopes of an upcoming before and after post... assuming I get my act together enough for an "after" shot, naturally! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Smiling's my favorite!

Around Christmas-time my nickname amongst my family is "Elf". I wrap probably 75% of the gifts in our family. I'm pretty good at it (and actually kind of like doing it... shhh!), so everyone always comes to me to be their one-stop giftwrap department.

Typically my mom negotiates an extra day off for me during the holidays by threatening Bossdad that if I don't come elf* for her, he'll have to do it. Most years it works like a charm, but this year we've just been too busy and as a result I think she's a bit snowed under.

* "elf" used as a verb = the act of elfing, also known as wrapping gifts.

She just called me at work and this was our conversation:
  • The Dot: So I was just pondering tonight and was wondering what your plans were for after we left Mamaw & Papaw's house? 
  • Me: (seeing the writing on the wall)..... um, elfing at your house would be my guess?
  • The Dot: Oh good! (said so innocently) Why don't you bring your jammies? 
  • Me: Why do I need to bring pajamas to elf?
  • The Dot: Well, because I have lots of wine and I like the idea of a tipsy, captive elf that I can keep working into the wee hours of the night.
If I wasn't 28, I would consider calling CPS to report her for attempting to use alcohol to entice her offspring into a form of child slave labor. But I guess I'll let her slide this time since I'm of-age (and cookies and wine are involved).

Christmas in the Desert

Can you believe that Christmas is this week?! I hope all of you are enjoying your families, time-off, and have all your shopping done!

Tonight we are doing "round two" of celebrations. We used to switch off between my mom and dad's families year-to-year, alternating Thanksgiving and Christmas. But with my grandparents moving to Dallas and Clint getting married, a lot has changed this year (for the better!).

Luckily, we still managed to figure out a way to spend time with everyone. We will be celebrating with my grandparents tonight, my mom's family this weekend, and we made a weekend trip a couple weeks ago to see Clint & Whit. It's been busy, but I love it!

Here was round one of the festivities in Phoenix:

Since my parents' and brother's puppies are from the same litter, we decided to take Corkscrew with us to Phoenix so they could see each other. He did really well on the plane with the exception of a few hollers. Of course, he didn't quite stay in his carrier the entire time either. He started there, but eventually made his way into our laps covered by pashminas. 

Saturday we shopped all day and then later hunted down this extremely authentic Italian place that my dad used to love. Our waiter had worked there for 25+ years and had earrings and a curly, blond Michael Bolton-esque mullet. He was very abrupt- borderlining on rude- as only a true New Yorker can get away with, but the food was really good.

We finished the night polishing off a few bottles of wine while we played Apples to Apples.

Sunday morning we woke up and had breakfast and opened gifts. My parents got a sewing machine for Whit and she and my mom literally made an entire quilt top in about four hours. Granted it was a small one, but still... we were all very impressed!
That night we made "Christmas" dinner including steaks with a red wine sauce, grilled chicken, and the pumpkin creme brulee I'd been wanting to try (sadly, not worth the effort!). Whitney was excited because she got to use the china they received at their wedding for the first time.
After dinner, much to my dad's initial dismay (and later delight!), we went to see the luminaries at the Desert Botanical Garden. It was beautiful, perfect weather and all the musical acts were really good. Our favorites were the hand-bells and this feisty violin player (bottom left) that had a great sense of humor.

{Sidenote: They really should market this differently, as it was more of a music festival with luminaries than luminaries with musical guests. I think they would have a much better chance of getting guys to set the remote down if they focused on the music and hot toddies instead of the thousands of candles in paper sacks.}

Anyways, it was a great weekend and the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!  Merry Christmas week to everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One month!

In exactly a month, my mom and I will be off to Hawaii!  We got the first batch of trip information two weeks ago and they booked our flights yesterday! After much discussion, we also booked our four excursions (we changed this probably seven times, no lie):

Monday: Whale Watching Catamaran Sail & Snorkeling Trip
Tuesday: Maui Waterfalls and Rainforest Hike
Wednesday: Zipline Ka'anapali 
Thursday: West Maui Helicopter Tour

Spa treatments were also an option, but we figured we should book the adventure type things and if we wanted to do the spa on our own, we could. I'm thinking it wouldn't be smart to pass up the spa at the Four Seasons. 

Friday they have a shopping shuttle to Lahaina that runs all day. Since scuba and my mom don't mix very well, I'm going to get up early Friday morning and do two dives. By the time I'm done and get back to the hotel it should be perfect timing to meet up with her and go shopping!

Still no dice on convincing The Dot to skydive. I've been trying (meanwhile my dad is upping both our insurance policies) but she's not caving... yet. My brother brought up a good point though- you can't skydive and scuba dive within I think three days of each other due to the huge altitude differences. I definitely don't want to end up spending my vacation in a decompression chamber so it might have to wait for another time.

So that's all we have planned at the moment. It's a pretty full week so hopefully we'll be able to fit some hammock time and fruity cocktail drinking in there somewhere!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sunset in Scottsdale

Between annual planning at work and Christmas shopping during my evenings off, I (like everyone else) have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off lately.

I read a great blog post earlier about stopping to appreciate sparkly eyes and it reminded me to take time to enjoy the small things in the midst of all the madness. So in that spirit of that, even though I don't have time to blog at the moment, I thought I would stop and share one of my "sparkly eye" moments from last weekend.

We flew to Phoenix to celebrate Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law. On Saturday we were all relaxing in their living room in the late afternoon when we looked over and noticed vivid colors of fractured light shining through the window in their front door. I opened the door to see one of the things I miss most about Phoenix- the gorgeous sunsets:

Keep in mind this wasn't taken with a fancy camera and hasn't been photoshopped in any way. Straight from my iPhone to here- it was that pretty.

Just a friendly moose & lulu reminder to take even the briefest of moments to stop and appreciate the wonderful parts of this crazy time of year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Foodie Friday- Baby Shower Recipes

As promised, here are the recipes from JJ's baby shower last weekend. I wanted to do girly food, but not the chicken salad/petit fours routine you see over and over at baby showers. Don't get me wrong- I love both, but thought it would be a fun challenge to come up with something a bit different.

The end result included:
  • Ham & Cheese Sliders
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Crescent Roll Pinwheels
  • Veggie Bars
  • Fruit Skewers with Strawberry Dip
  • Rum Cakes sent home with guests as favors
Ham & Cheese Sliders
  • 1 Package Hawaiian dinner rolls 
  • 10 to 16 oz shaved ham 
  • 8 to 10 oz of pepper jack cheese
  • 2 T minced onion
  • 2 1/2 T Worcesters sauce
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • 2 sticks of butter*
  • 2 1/2 T dry mustard 
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Grease a casserole dish, cut the dinner rolls in half separating top and bottom, do not rip them into individual pieces*. Lay the bottom half in the dish.
  3. Distribute the ham evenly. 
  4. Then do the same with the cheese. 
  5. Then place the top half of the buns on. 
  6. In a separate bowl melt the butter and combine the rest of the ingredients*. 
  7. Pour the combination evenly over the rolls.
  8. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. 
  9. Bake for 25 minutes.
*I am giving you the recipe as I made it for the party, but have a couple thoughts:

1) I don't think I will be leaving the rolls connected next time. It was kind of a pain when they came out of the oven because we had to cut each one away from the rest individually. If each slider was assembled independently and then nestled snugly in the pan, I see no reason why they wouldn't cook the same AND be easier to remove from the pan. The last thing you want to be doing come party time is cutting 30 gooey, ham-filled rolls apart from each other.

2) We doubled the recipe, but not the butter mixture and still didn't use all of it. Sorry Paula Deen! So I would say one stick or a stick and a half is probably plenty! 

Greek Pasta Salad
  • 12 oz. penne or fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 t dried basil
  • 1 1/2 t pepper
  • 3/4 t sugar
  • 3 C mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 C green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 C pepperoni, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped olives
  • 1 container of feta
  1. Cook pasta according to package. Drain, place in large bowl.
  2. Chop mushrooms, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, pepperoni.
  3. Whisk together remaining ingredients.
  4. Pour liquid mixture over pasta and add veggies, pepperoni and feta. 
  5. Toss together. 
  6. Refrigerate overnight, if possible.
Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Mushrooms (I think we did two packages of button mushrooms)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped very fine
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 T butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C italian bread crumbs (+ more to sprinkle)
  • a touch of cayenne
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Wipe the mushrooms down with a damp paper towel.
  3. Pop the stems out and set aside. Put tops on baking sheet, cavity side up.
  4. Chop onion and stems, mince garlic.
  5. Melt butter in saute pan and add onion, stems, and garlic. Season a touch with salt & pepper.
  6. Cook until..... done?  This is where I get a little shady. I didn't time it, I just know by looking when it's done.  I would say 8ish minutes? Basically until the onions are translucent and mushroom stems look wilty and wet.
  7. Dump into a bowl and let cool slightly.  Add the cheeses, bread crumbs, cayenne, more salt and pepper and mix up.
  8. Using a spoon, fill each mushroom cavity with the mixture. Sprinkle the tops with the extra bread crumbs.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  • 1 can Crescent Roll dough (They make Crescent Roll "sheets" now which I strongly recommend if you can find them.  Basically crescent rolls without the perforations)
  • Chive Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 C Parmesan Cheese
  • Pepper
  • Handful of Fresh Spinach
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Roll out crescent dough.  If it comes out all wonky, try to pull it into as close to a perfect rectangle shape as you can get it.
  3. Spread a healthy layer of cream cheese.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  5. Lightly press a single layer of spinach leaves into the cheese.
  6. Roll up, folding the long side in. (so you have the longest roll possible.
  7. I usually refrigerate for 10 minutes or so because I think it makes it easier to slice, but you don't have to.
  8. Cut into 1/4 inch slices using a serrated knife.
  9. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until golden brown - 10-12 minutes I believe.
What's great about these is that you can basically take the crescent roll/cream cheese combo and alter it however you want.  I've done these with prosciutto instead of spinach and they're really good.  I think they'd also be so good with strawberry cream cheese and chocolate chips with some sugar sprinkled on top, but I haven't tried that one yet.

Veggie Bars
  • 2 Cans Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls
  • 2-8oz Packages Philadelphia 1/3 Fat Cream Cheese
  • 2 Cups Hellman's Low Fat Mayonnaise
  • 1 Packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 3/4 Cups Each Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, finely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375. 
  2. Roll out crescent rolls onto greased cookie sheet, and press together, sealing all seams. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  3. Finely chop veggies and set aside.
  4. Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing mix until well blended. 
  5. Smooth onto crescent rolls. 
  6. Sprinkle with veggies. 
  7. Wrap with saran wrap and place in refrigerator for two to four hours.
  8. When ready to serve, cut into 24 bars.
Fruit Skewers with Strawberry Dip
  • Whatever fruit your little heart desires
  • 8 oz Strawberry Cream Cheese
  • 1 (7 oz) Jar Marshmallow Cream
  1. Mix cream cheese and marshmallow cream until well blended.
  2. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  3. Skewer fruit and serve alongside.
Rum Cake
  • 1 C chopped pecans
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C rum
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C rum
  • 1 C sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in the eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil and 1/2 cup rum. Blend well. Pour batter over chopped nuts in the pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto serving plate. Brush glaze over top and sides. Allow cake to absorb glaze and repeat until all glaze is used.
  4. To make the glaze: in a saucepan, combine butter, water, rum and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Wishes

We are a 'wishlist' family. We have done it this way every since my brother and I were little when we would dog ear, star, and double star the Toys R Us catalog. I know some might view this as tacky, but for us it just makes life a bit easier to know what the giftee would enjoy.

This certainly doesn't mean that thoughtfulness goes out the window... one of my favorite gifts last year was a box that had a big bag of potting soil, hand shovels, a pair of gardening gloves, and a giftcard to Home Depot from my mom. I used to lug my pots to Plano to plant at the change of every season, so she got me everything I needed to urban garden at my townhouse. It was great! So while we all try to sneak in some fun surprises into our gift giving, we always rely heavily on the trusty list.

It must be the nosiness in me, but I LOVE looking at other people's lists. It's fun to see what different people are lusting after and I have been known to steal an idea or two from my snooping.

Since we are just around the corner, I thought I would share a few of the things that I would be excited to see under the tree this year:

Christmas Wishes
  1. Coco Mademoiselle. I have been wearing this for years and just love the scent. I keep thinking I should try something new but it never seems to happen. I guess there's nothing wrong with sticking with a good classic.
  2. White Dishes. Some of you may remember this post from awhile back. I ended up buying one of each of the plates and have been using them for the last few months. And after an embarrassing amount of time debating, I've decided to go with the essential which is the more modern of the two. The thought of getting rid of my current plates has me so excited that I've had daydreams about my-big-fat-greek-wedding-ing my current set of dishware.
  3. Oona Serving Pieces. The serving set that matches my silverware. I am also in need of an extra placesetting since a few seem to have made their way to that mysterious place where these things go to disappear. Seriously, how do you lose things like forks and socks?!
  4. Rosle Locking Tongs. I am pretty damn good at rationalizing shopping purchases, but I have yet to join the ranks of women who can rationalize spending $600 on a pair of shoes. However, I've definitely come to see the light in buying nicer kitchen accessories. Everyone has their "thing" and for me, I will continue to shop at DSW if it means I can buy $40 garlic presses that just work better. But back to the tongs, they are more expensive than normal tongs but they use some sort of gravitational ball bearing to close when you turn them tong side up and open when you turn the tong side down. Brilliant. {sidenote: I still oogle the red-soled beauties when I pass them by- and certainly don't judge others for their impeccable taste in footwear- I just have other priorities at this stage in my life. Like rent.}
  5. Global Chef's Knife. Santa so generously brought me several of my knives last Christmas. I did my research before the 2009 holidays and after talking to several Chef friends, decided to go with Globals (I'm not going to lie, this hilarious story might have had something to do with it as well). You can easily buy an entire block of cheaper knives for what a couple of really good knives cost, but I decided I would rather just get one or two Globals and go from there since you rarely use all knives in a block anyways. I have been extremely happy with them and treat them like they are my children (aka, I just about died when a male friend, who shall remain nameless, put one tip-down in the dishwasher). Out of the four I have, I use the 7" Santoku the most, so a Chef's knife would be a good addition.
  6. West Elm Pin-Tuck Shams. I left one of my pillows that matched my duvet in a hotel and CB2 no longer carries the pattern. SO annoying, but I found these dark charcoal shams that would probably go well with the rest of my bedding.
  7. Knife Block. I currently have my knives them in those drawer racks, but they are so pretty that I'd love to have them out on the counter. And since the matching knife block is $150, I found this Crate & Barrel alternative.
  8. Isi Twist & Sparkle. Anything that can make a mojito even better than it already is has a special place in my heart. You can essentially add 'sparkle' to anything imaginable. Just throw your cocktail (or juice, I suppose, but come on- let's get real here...) of choice into the bottle, twist the cartridge charged top on, and voila! sparkly mojitos, margaritas, or whatever your little heart desires!
  9. Scarves. This is probably my favorite part of winter. I've lost a couple and set one on fire, so I'm looking to add a few to my collection. I love the infinity scarves, but have never bought one for some reason.
  10. Apple TV. My brother and parents both have one and use it quite a bit. With the iPad, I'm sure I'll be downloading more and more movies digitally. Using Apple TV you can play movies on your iPad or iPhone and watch them on your TV. Pretty cool.
And two that are a bit odd (but really, not that odd since Oprah always has edibles on her favorite things list):

Hop Kiln Winery's Mustard of the Month Club.

Not kidding. I am a mustard lover (most likely thanks to my mayo aversion) and this stuff is so good. I cracked up when my cousin-in-law added this to her list after seeing it on mine. Nice to know I'm not the only crazy one!

Boudin Sourdough Bread.
I absolutely love this bread. I have been known to haul
suitcases full of it back from California. I just realized they also have a sourdough bread club. For $14.95 a month you get two loaves sent to your house. How am I just now finding out about this?!?

Does anyone else out there put food on their wishlists?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

What a weekend! It's Wednesday and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it, but better late than never, right? It was a fun one filled with celebrations of new houses, birthdays, and babies!

Jodi's baby shower was Sunday at my parent's house in Plano so I spent the entire weekend (aside from Saturday night when I had a housewarming/birthday party) in full-on party planning mode: cooking, diaper cake making, and errand running. All the hard work paid off in the end and I think it turned out pretty damn cute {if I do say so myself!}. I can't take all the credit though- I had plenty of help from the three other fabulous hostesses. The mommy-to-be said it looked like something out of a magazine. That might be the best compliment I've ever received on a party I've hosted! Love it- watch your back, Martha Stewart!

Anyways, on to the good stuff... pictures! (I stole all these off Jodi's blog bc I'm lazy and liked her picture collage making deal):

The set-up.
We had ham & cheese sliders, pasta salad, stuffed mushrooms, pinwheels, veggie bars, fruit skewers with strawberry dip, cupcakes, and a candy bar (and a non-edible diaper cake). Check back Friday for the recipes.

The details.
{top left} Angie made these adorable "wish cards" for Jodi to keep. Every guest filled out our hopes for baby Madison and also filled out an envelope with their address so Jodi didn't have to hunt down everyone's info to write thank you notes while taking care of an infant.

{top right} The champagne bar menu. We had bottles of bubbly iced down in a silver bucket surrounded by different mixers in little pitchers. It was adorable, but sadly we didn't get a picture.

{bottom} For the favors I made individual bundt cakes and we tied them with little tags that said "Thank you for coming to celebrate Jodi's bunt in the oven!" (bunt/bundt, po-tay-to/po-tat-o! look how cute they are!)

The "Madison" sign Rachel made and the onesie clothes line. Jodi went to Oregon State, hence the "lil Beaver" onesie.

{top} The hostesses: Meredith, Angie, myself, Rachel.
{bottom} Jodi's mom, JJ, Jodi's mother-in-law.

I think the mama-to-be had a great time and she got a lot of good gear, including three bath tubs and two video monitors (get your head in the game, Buy Buy Baby!). But luckily, she is still going to be able to use everything despite the registry mishap since she is taking the extras to the grandparents' houses.

It was my first time throwing a baby shower and I have to say that in some ways it was more fun than the wedding showers I've done. You can definitely do more in the way of decorations and such. I'm sure this is only the first of many to come so I'm hoping the next one will be a little boy, because I am dying to copy some of these shower ideas from Eat Drink Pretty. Adorable!

Big thanks to The Dot for allowing us to take over their house in the middle of crazy Christmas prep and for all her help! She is always there to save the day when it's five minutes to party time and I'm still in a tshirt and yoga pants.

Friday, December 3, 2010


{Photo Credit: Four Seasons Wailea}

You can scrap that whole "things I am loving" post from yesterday because shortly after it was written, I got a call that trumped the whole dang thing.  My very fun news of the week month is that...


I haven't been on a non-wedding related vacation in FOREVER so I am beyond excited.

One of the perks of being an ad agency are the incentive trips that a few of the media outlets have every year. They basically plan these swanky trips and invite clients that spend a certain amount of money. The first quarter trip with CBS is to Hawaii.

Bossdad made me his partner this year so he suggested that my mom and I go! We'll be staying at the Four Seasons on Maui for six days. The trip is centered around golf, but they have different activities you can do every day if you're not a golfer (which we aren't). I'm not sure how it works yet, but some of the options are helicopter tours, spa treatments, whale watching and snorkeling trips, zip-lining, surfing lessons etc. They also have nightly events like cocktail hours, luaus and dinners on the beach. And everything is paid for.

One thing I know for sure is that I'm definitely going to cross #5 off my 30x30 list and put my scuba certification to good use (finally!). I'd love to cross #2 off as well... it would be amazing to skydive over the islands, but I doubt I'll be able to convince The Dot to jump out of a plane with me. I have a month and a half to try, so we'll see!

I guess it's time to make the gym my second home... I definitely wasn't planning on being in a bikini in January!

Foodie Friday- Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese

There are few things I love in the wintertime more than a gooey grilled cheese and a steamy bowl of tomato soup. It's a classic comfort food combination that I doubt I could ever tire of.

Unlike most soups, I'm not picky about tomato. I love it in almost every form I've ever tasted- canned, jarred, homemade, spicy, mild... does not matter. My favorite is probably La Madeliene which I'm assuming has something to do with the fact that one cup has literally 100% of your saturated fat allowance for the day.

It's been fairly cold in Dallas this week and I came home a few days ago craving tomato soup.... only to find that we were out. So I started searching for a recipe that wouldn't require me to leave my house since I was already out of my work clothes and into my yoga pants (In case you were wondering, it was definitely a yoga pants + couch kind of night, not a yoga pants + yoga mat kind of night). Naturally there wasn't a recipe in which I had every single ingredient, so I improvised.  And it turned out quite delicious!

So here is my take on the homemade classic, tomato soup & grilled cheese:

Grilled Cheese
  • 2 slices of bread (Sourdough is my favorite)
  • Herb butter (easy to make, but they also sell it premade if you care to purchase instead)
  • Tillamook Cheddar
  • Tomato Slices
  1. Y'all know the drill- butter the outsides, cheese and tomato on the inside, grill. 
It's no secret how much I love my panini press, but this is one of the few sandwiches that I like better un-panini-ed. Yes, I just turned "panini" into a verb:

pa·ni·ni·ed\pə-ˈnē-nē-ed\: the act of smushing a sandwich into a panini maker for the purpose achieving crunchy, pressed goodness.

My vote is to grill it in a grill pan. It's just not substantial enough to put in a press. And for heaven's sake, use good ingredients. This is one of those foods that is so simple that you can really taste each ingredient separately, so they better taste good. I know, I know- it's hard to go wrong with carbs and cheese, but trust me, if you just give your carbs and cheese a little upgrade you won't be sorry. And the herb butter "kicks it up a notch" to use the words of our boy Emeril.

Spicy Tomato Soup (based very loosely on this)
  • 2 T butter (I used herb butter since I already had it out)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 gloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 28 oz. can of tomatoes (I used whole and smushed them up a little because that's what I had on hand. Most recipes suggested crushed- your call, but I don't think it matters.)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 t red pepper flakes (if you don't like spicy, just add a teeny pinch)
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, cubed
  1. Melt butter in large pot.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender- 4 minutes or so.
  3. Add tomatoes (smush a little if they are whole), broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and red pepper. 
  4. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (covered).
  5. Remove bay leaf.
  6. Add cream cheese and allow to melt a little bit.
  7. Immersion blend, if you are cool.
  8. If you are uncool, pour that boiling hot liquid batch-by-batch into a blender and blend*.
  9. Season with salt & pepper. (I garnished with a bit of julienned basil that I had on hand)
  10. Enjoy!
*Just kidding on the uncool thing.  But immersion blenders are fun. You should get one... the new ones even include a fancy mini food processor attachment. Not that I'm bitter about buying mine 6 months before they started including that or anything.... 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things I am loving...

  1. This blog that I found via Tasting Table that is all about grown-up "jello cocktails". How fun is that? I can't decide which ones to make first! I'm definitely thinking the cosmo shots will be making an appearance at our next bachelorette party.
  2. Angel by Akon. I first heard it on the Victoria's Secret fashion show and I've already added it to my work out playlist... which, coupled with the mental images of those VS Models strutting their stuff down the runway in their undies, should be quite adequate work-out motivation.
  3. That it's already Thursday! Looking forward to a full weekend of events celebrating two birthdays, a new house, and a baby on the way!
  4. Keurig hot chocolate + hazelnut syrup + a teensy bit of cream. Super quick way to up the ante on k-cup hot chocolate that is kind of "blah" on its own.
  5. That I have a hot date tonight! ;)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November in Pictures

This post should probably be titled "A Month's Worth of Blogging in Pictures" since, ya know, I haven't. However, you'll be delighted to know that I am still alive. And luckily I did manage to take a few pictures with all the extra time I had on my hands by neglecting moose and lulu.

There were lots of new things in November:
New opportunities. (Bossdad being interviewed on the Fox 4 news as a "marketing expert")

New shoes.

 New (and last- no more four loko) experiences.

 New culinary delights. (Shnitzel at Sevy's)

 New puppies.

 New BABIES (Brianna's twin girls!)

New, fun projects at work.

New season of the Stars (and Mavs!).

And a few old things:
Old forgotten restaurants- aka the patio at Joe T. Garcias. I hadn't been in forever and it was just as fun as I remembered.

Old experiences. Yet another car wreck (front fender)- thankfully this one was at the hands of the Hully & Mo's valet and NOT yours truly. {which I should note they are graciously accepting responsibility for!}

Old friends visiting Dallas. Under extremely tragic circumstances, we got to see several of our college guys in November. It was a sad weekend, but the silver lining was being able to see so many of the boys that we never get a chance spend time with anymore.

And lots of family Thanksgiving fun:
 Clint & Whit with the five(!) pups: my parents three, their puppy, and my moose.

 A rousing game of our new favorite, Mexican Train.

 This should probably go in the "new" category, but we had sushi the day after Thanksgiving- a first for my mom. As you can see she couldn't quite get the chopsticks down so she just took to stabbing things.

 Bossdad donning his Master Chef appropriate attire.

 My cousin and adorable baby cousin, Cameron.

My favorite three year old in the world, Kinley. We sang Christmas carols while Bossdad played the piano. She's one of the few people in the world that didn't seem bothered by my lack of vocal talents. 

Everybody put your stretch pants on!

Our newest tradition- fondue night after the turkey overload.

 Bossdad cheers-ing to fondue (don't let him fool you- he's not a huge fan but indulges my mother in her holiday tradition-in-the-making).

Cheers to the holidays!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I am an Apple junkie. I have slowly but surely converted my entire family into mac lovers. And after one too many hard drive crashes, Bossdad finally switched over all our work computers as well so my life is blissfully PC-free.

We are constantly out and about and our iPhones have proven to be quite handy in pulling up and playing mp3's of commercials or showing the latest logo designs to clients while sitting in meetings where wifi may, or may not, be available. So when Bossdad suggested that we go get iPads to "increase our productivity", I had to agree that it was a brilliant idea!

I am in love. With Christmas coming up, I thought I would share my take on this lovely little gadget just in case some of you might be considering adding one to your wishlist. I have to admit, when they first came out I brushed it off as an overgrown iPhone. After having one for a couple months, I would say that yes, it is like an overgrown iPhone but way better. And y'all know how much I love my iPhone.

My favorite features:
  1. The battery life is amazing. I can go days without charging it, and I use it a lot. When you compare this to the typical 4-hour battery life (tops) of a laptop, it makes it much more convenient than a laptop.
  2. The size. I knew I would use it a lot, but the size makes it so easy to carry that I almost always have it on me. Usually the only time I don't is when I'm carrying a clutch.
  3. With movies, music, games, email, etc. It is the perfect travel gadget. No more checking for wi-fi at hotels or worrying about your battery dying mid-flight before your movie is over. And there are tons of guidebook apps for touristy cities... so many handy uses.
  4. The apps in general. Even though it was a work purchase, I use it just as much in my personal life due to the ever expanding app store.
  5. Cooking! I love cookbooks but find myself most often cooking from my laptop. The iPad battery lasts so much longer that I don't have to plug it in mid-recipe, it takes up less counterspace and is less vulnerable to splatters.
I love app recommendations, so I thought I'd share a few of mine:

Yoga HD. This has been one of my favorite finds. I really want to love yoga, but every time I go to a class at my gym I feel so out of my element. I have the balance of a drunk baby giraffe so I always feel so silly. I have been using this app and it's preset "classes" to work on developing my core in private so maybe one day I can attend an actual class without feeling like an idiot.

Flipboard. This basically aggregates feeds from twitter and sorts and formats them to read like a magazine. I love it because when someone tweets a link, it will have the full story without having to click on anything (same with pictures). It's a much more enjoyable way to peruse twitter feeds.

Food Network. You saw this one coming, didn't you? After being less than impressed with the Food Network Nighttime app I almost passed by this one, but I'm so glad I didn't! It is very well thought out and has already proved to be quite helpful in the kitchen.

Some of my favorite features are the ability to search by chef, course, or recipe popularity; the conversion calculator; the timer; the recipe box that syncs automatically; and the shopping list. When you are looking through recipes and find one (or multiple) that you want to make, you can click the ingredients that you don't have...

... and it adds them to a shopping list for you! Since apps are compatible between iPad and iPhone this means that I also have an iPhone friendly version of the app on my phone and always have access to the shopping list! So I can menu plan on the iPad and shop with the iPhone.

Fantasy Football. Sadly, this might be my favorite use. Do you ever see those guys in the sports bar on Sundays with their laptops out and you trip over their power cord every time you get up to use the bathroom? I have found the iPad to be the ultimate fantasy football companion- portable, small, internet capable, and a battery that lasts for days. {Note: this is not an app, but the ESPN Fantasycast website.}

Calendar. Kind of a simple feature to love, but it syncs automatically with my work computer, home computer and my phone. So it doesn't matter where I update my calendar, it will always appear on all four. It also pulls in Bossdad's calendar from his computer so I always have access to his info wherever I am. And it also magically adds the birthdays of all of my facebook contacts as well.

Streaming Players. I have the Netflix and CBS streaming apps downloaded and both work great. It's so nice to have at airports or in waiting rooms. Now if I could only get a Food Network stream I would cancel my cable all together... {kidding roomie!}

Magazines. While the magazine industry definitely isn't hurting as much as the newspaper industry, they surely see the writing on the wall and would be smart to think of ways to reinvent themselves. I've read several magazines on the iPad, and I have to say that Food & Wine is doing the most amazing job (Travel + Leisure also).

Everything is interactive. Reading an article about Joe Bastianich's wines and want to buy a bottle? With one tap you can get over to his website and order some for yourself. The picture above was an article on great wines at every price point and under each wine you can tap and get a recipe to pair it with. Other things I loved: there was a section on Mario Batali and of course it had pictures of the food, but with one touch you could get the recipe or tap and watch Mario cook it himself. It truly is a platform that allows the pages of the magazine to come alive.

Games. I don't play a ton of games, but I love Words With Friends and Angry Birds and both are supersized on the iPad.

Pandora. The speaker on this is much better (if you can't plug it into a player) than the iPhone. The iPod part is great, but I've found myself listening to Pandora most of the time.

I know a lot of people are interested in the iPad for the reader, iBooks. I haven't had a chance to use it yet because I still have a few hard copy books that I haven't finished. However, even when I do finish I doubt I'll be using iBooks. I've found that Amazon offers a lot more ebook titles than iTunes and downloading the kindle app for the iPad does the same thing that iBooks does.

So there's my two cents. For all of you on the fence, I'd say go for it. I absolutely love mine and have been shocked at how much I use it. Be warned though- there are rumors of a new version coming out in the Spring so if you can wait, it might be worth it!