Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Year In Review

2010 was, quite honestly, an amazing year.

I graduated from college (with honors), after 7 long years. Obviously, I changed majors a lot.

I did everything backwards (job first, buy a house with boyfriend, get engaged, then graduate), but it all worked out in the end.

Please ignore my ill-fitting cap.
A few months later, we had a little event.

Also known as: the best day ever.

Our wedding was everything I dreamed it would be. It was amazing to be surrounded by friends and family, and feel such love and support. I'm still so thankful to everyone who was a part of our day. I'm so happy and blessed to be married to such an amazing man. Love you, K :)

We went on an amazing honeymoon to Mexico, a county we had never visited before.

I went on several little trips, too. A short trip to Florida, to see a BFF and Jimmy Buffett.

Yes, I wore that in public.
I took a road trip to North Carolina with bridesmaid M to visit some buddies.

Then I took the biggest trip of my life so far... Europe. Brussels, Belgium to be exact.

After a lot of traveling, I wrapped up the year right where I wanted to be: at home with K, our friends and family.

I'm blessed. I'm blessed and grateful to have had such an amazing year. I'm blessed and grateful to be married, to have traveled, to have graduated and to have a decent job. I'm grateful for so much this year, and I can only hope that 2011 is filled with blessings and adventures as well.

What was the highlight of your year? See you in 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Belated Christmas!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We hosted Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our house.  Needless to say, I'm still exhausted and glad we're almost done entertaining.  I say almost because New Year's Eve is at our house for the 3rd year in a row.  Looking forward to fun times, but not looking forward to cleaning up afterward!  I need 3 dishwashers I think.

Would you like a Christmas Eve tour?

Homemade cookies - I think I ate 75% of the 19 dozen I made.  FML.

Our Christmas table... before it exploded with food.

I received awesome Christmas cards from some fun blogger friends, thanks guys! Their cards were mixed in with all of the cards from "real life" friends (haha), family members and Weddingbee buddies.

Christmas Day was fun, and as always, a mess of wrapping paper and goodies.

Can you spy some of my gifts?  a Nap snuggie(!), Kate Spade perfume (smells amazing), the Glitz and Glam makeup set from Sephora... someone was paying attention!

I may have been extra good this year, because I was also spoiled with my Kate Spade wallet!  Woot! 

The pets had a nice Christmas too... mice, catnip and bones galore.

The Christmas tree is coming down Sunday after the New Year's Eve/Winter Classic festivities.  Have I mentioned my husband is VERY excited about the Winter Classic hockey game at Heinz Field on New Year's Day?  Hopefully it stays cold enough for the game - it's warming up here this weekend (a rare occurrence!).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

6 months ago...

I married the most wonderful man I've ever known.

Happy 6th month anniversary husband, I love you!

I viewed this slideshow after getting back from our honeymoon.

It brings a tear to my eye every time!

It's set to our first dance song.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pet Gift Exchange

Chewy, Olive, and Sadie participated in kjpugs' 2010 Kitty & Canine Gift Exchange!  We were paired up with Megan's kitties Raven, Tiger and Spaz.  Megan's cats must have emailed our pets to see what they wanted, because they LOVE their gifts!

First up, Spaz's present to Chewy.

Chewy got a Loofa Leap wand toy!

Thanks, Spaz!

Next up... Sadie's gift(s!) from Raven.  Sadie must have been extra good this year!

Out of focus... but look at this pure excitement.  It's a squeaky cow!

*runs to bed* wait... there's one more?


Finally, it was Olive's turn.  She got a catnip-stuffable mouse with some catnip from Tiger!  Ohhh boy!

This toy was popular with everyone.  K couldn't even stuff it with catnip without Chewy going nuts and spilling it on K!

Olive loved the toy too... but Chewy stole it.  No surprise, I don't call him Bad Kitty for nothin'!

So, it's safe to say the animals are excited for Christmas!  They broke into a TIED Petsmart bag and stole a feather toy I was saving for Christmas yesterday.  Yep, they're ready.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eating Better, Shopping Better

I'm making an effort to cook foods that are good for K and I.  We have a tendency to be lazy, and go with convenience over quality.  I do cook homemade meals during the week, but fast food also makes an appearance usually twice a week - paired with eating out on the weekends.  Convenience doesn't always equal savings either - $20 here and $20 there for dinners and lunches add up.  Fast.

So, to start, I'm attempting to make better decisions in buying groceries.  Tonight, I did pretty well.  Here's my grocery receipt:

Quart 2% milk - $1.09 (We use it mainly for cooking).
Gorton's grilled filets of fish - $4.00
Sargento cheese sticks - $3.50
Sliced white mushrooms - $2.69
Zucchini - $1.41
Red peppers (2) - $2.90
Sweet Onion - $.86
Brown Rice - $2.00
Organic couscous - $3.29
Black Jewell butter popcorn (no hydrogenated oils) - $3.49
All natural boneless pork chops (4) - $3.71
Turkey tenderloins (2) - $8.30
All natural boneless chicken breasts (3) - $5.79
Pasta Sauce (all natural) - $4.99
Simply POM juice (by Minute Maid) - $3.00

Total: $51.02

Pretty good, right? That's enough for 5-6 dinners (of course using a few things I already have).

I wish I could develop a menu using mostly/all vegetables.  They're obviously really good for you, but beyond that - they're freakin' cheap! 

Tonight, I sauteed the mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, and onion in a little of my basil olive oil with some spices.  I cooked the brown rice on the side and served the veggies over the brown rice.  Still very delicious and pretty healthy!

The turkey, pork, and chicken will make up 3 more meals.  I'll serve whole grain pasta with my pasta sauce.  The frozen fish will work well with rice.  I'll probably serve the couscous with the pork (?).  I buy frozen steamfresh veggies like it's my job - so I'll be using those this week too.  My freezer is packed with them!  The popcorn is a yummy snack, as are the cheese sticks.

I'm also currently obsessed with Greek yogurt.

Strawberry, pomegranate... even caramel (which is pretty good!).

This yogurt tends to fill me up more than regular yogurt.  I love mixing granola with it!

What do you do to eat healthier?

By the way... I may or may not have had 3 double stuffed oreos for dessert.  I fail.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Weekend Recap

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  I attended my friend's ornament exchange party on Saturday - and it was lots of fun!

For the ornament exchange, everyone purchased an ornament, wrapped it, and we each pulled a number.  The first person to pick would unwrap an ornament.  The second person could either unwrap an ornament or steal an ornament that has already been opened.  Nobody could steal an ornament that had been stolen more than 2 times.  

I, of course, stole this ornament from my friend.  What?  Sorry... I have a weakness for shoes and I'm OBSESSED with this ornament now!

I mean... look at the inside:

"All I want is peace on earth and really cute shoes!"

So true.  So true.

In other news, we got our floor in the entryway to our house redone.   Here's what it looked like before:

It was cheap vinyl that has probably been here since the house was built.  See how it was starting to peel up?

Well, I caved to K's wish to get wood laminate installed.  I really didn't want to spend the money (and DIY is not an option with us, we are NOT handy people!), but it turned out so well - I think it was worth the investment.

Hopefully when we try to sell our house in a couple of years, it'll impress a potential buyer!

Hope everyone has a nice week!  I have a final on Tuesday, and then I'm free to forget about school until mid January!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

All I want for Christmas (is to lose my wisdom teeth?)

Ugh.  I'd like to lose them without the pain and fear... if at all possible.  Not realistic, I know.  Instead, January 14th (or doomsday, according to me), I will be freaking the hell out because that's the day I'll be getting these 4 jerks removed.

I've never been put under sedation before.  Even though this will just be "twilight sedation," I'm still scared big time.  What if I don't wake up?!  I know, such a stupid fear, but it still freaks me out.

Wishing for spontaneous tooth disappearances aside, I thought I'd jump on the Christmas list train and share my Christmas wants!

In case you didn't know, I am OBSESSED with makeup.  Obsessed.  The amount I spend on makeup is shameful and embarrassing, at best.  I need to write a makeup post one of these days, only because I have tried SO many brands of various products. 

I love Sephora, and one of the reasons why I'm such a fan is their liberal return policy.  Use something a couple times and hate it - even after you've thrown away the box and receipt?  Return it to the store and they'll give you an in-store credit for the retail price.  Helps me to not worry about wasting money on something I end up hating, ya know?

Anyway, I really want the above gift set.  It's $39 and has allll kinds of goodies to try out.  I put the hint out to K (and by hint I mean shopping list with kit name and price), so I'm hoping to find this under the tree for me this year!

I'd also love these socks:

They're Brookstone N-A-P socks, and they are heavenly soft.  I've never owned a pair, but I've drooled over them in the store multiple times.  3 pairs for $20, and my feet will be grateful.  Hey -- we keep this house at 64 degrees at any given moment.  It's cold in here!  K likes the gas bill to be low, so cozy socks and blankets are how I survive!

On to the more "wishful thinking" items...


Kate Spade.  You yummy little pancake.  Why do I have such a weakness for your lovely items?  WHY?  This purdy wallet makes me happy.  I want!  It can be used as a clutch too.  See how I'm justifying?  For $140, I'm going to have to justify a lot... though I wouldn't protest if my husband bought it for me.  Just sayin'.

Now for more wishful thinking:

I know it's overplayed, but I wouldn't mind a pair of UGGs.  Why not?  Well, I could never justify purchasing these for myself.  $180 for boots?  Outrageous.  However, I did spend that much on my wedding shoes, which although fabulous - will only be worn on the most special of occasions. I could probably get some use out of these, considering my backyard occasionally looks like this:

What "wishful thinking" gifts would you like for the holidays?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Secret Santa

Today we had a little "Secret Santa" party at my office- with gifts under $10.  It was really fun, and a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

I got my co-worker gifts from New York & Company while out shopping on Black Friday at midnight.

I got her this cute ruffles wallet (the silver one in the middle):

...and a pair of sparkly earrings.  I ended up spending almost exactly $10 (it was just over with tax), because NY&Co was running a 50% off sale + extra 10% off in the morning on Black Friday.  Gooo me!

My friend at work had me for Secret Santa, and she got me some awesome gifts!

These are my absolute favorite candles of all time.  Forget Yankee (which never smell as good when they burn, IMO), Slatkin & Co candles from Bath & Body Works are the best!  They must be 90% oil, because they make my entire house smell uh-maz-ing.  

Try them.  I promise you'll swoon.  They make awesome gifts.  They're also often on sale for 2 for $20 in the store.

She also got me the most amazing socks ever (also from Bath & Body works):

These socks are infused with a pretty scent and Shea butter.  They're super cozy, they make your feet soft and smell nice (bonus), and they have little skid-proof pads on the bottom.  Win, win, win!  Apparently, the scent and Shea butter only last after a limited number of washings, but I am totes lovin' them right now!

We all brought in some stuff to share for lunch too.  I made my Pepperoni Dip.  Seriously guys, this stuff is a crowd pleaser every time... and it's SO easy to make!

Pepperoni Dip

2 bricks of cream cheese
2 cans of cream of celery soup (trust me on this)
2 packages of pepperoni (sliced).

Combine in a small crockpot.  Cook for 3-4 hours on low.  Stir occasionally. 

It's gooey, pepperoni goodness.  Thank me later ;)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday, and I've got Christmas fever.

I'm happy to report that Thanksgiving was amazing!  The food was wonderful and we had a great time with our families.  I pulled off cooking everything without a hitch... well except for one minor hitch (though at the moment I thought it was a HUGE deal).

I cooked the bird upside down. 

When I put the bird in the oven initially, I obviously wasn't awake.  I set it on the roasting pan breast side down. 

When I pulled out the bird after 2.5 hours I realized my error... and almost passed the hell out.

So what did I do?  I googled that ish faster than you can say "thanksgiving pizza."  Turns out, it's FINE to cook it that way. In fact, many chefs recommend cooking the bird breast down side for the first few hours, because it makes for juicer white meat!

So, I flipped the bird back upright, based him with butter, and cooked him for another hour on a higher temp.

Let me just say... best. turkey. EVER.  Best error/fail ever!  I'll always do it that way from now on.  I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy to take any.  I'll make it up to you below... I'm warning you now, the rest of this post is Christmas overload.

I'm in FULL Christmas mode over here!  Black Friday really set me in gear; my friend L and I went out at midnight Friday morning and shopped til around 6:30 AM.  I know it sounds (completely) crazy, but I got almost all of my Christmas shopping done!  Listen, I don't stand in lines for hours outside of stores... so I'm not over the edge - YET. 

This weekend was also pretty eventful in that we got a lot of decorating done.  I was all about it on Friday (obvi, I didn't waste any time). 

Ok, Ok, so the tree was already up.  We put it up last weekend.  Before Thanksgiving.  Shameful, I know.  Now that I have that off my chest, how about taking a peek at my favorite Christmas ornament?

Why yes, that is a Fraggle Rock ornament from 1985.  My parents bought it for me when I was born.  How awesome, right?!
Our "First Christmas" ornament.  It's a s'more, if you couldn't tell.

While we're at it...

In other news, I did manage to be crafty this weekend.

Yes... me!  Crafty!

I had been looking everywhere for a new Christmas wreath.  No such luck.  Couldn't find one for under $40 that I actually liked.  So I made one.

It was so easy.  All I did was buy a plain (fake) wreath for $4 at Michael's,  along with some little holiday bulbs from their $1 bin, berries, and some ting-ting type stuff for a couple bucks a pop, and voila!  Wreath magic.

I decorated everywhere in our house.  I even decorated in our downstairs bathroom.

Speaking of my bathroom, is this weird?

See that picture?  I had nowhere to put it in our house.  So into the bathroom it went.  Now, if you "use the facilities" you get a smiling picture of my bridesmaids and I.  I find it amusing :)

K and I worked all day yesterday to get the outside of the house done.  I'm not going to show you the whole outside of the house though... because it's sadly not done yet.  We still have some things to replace and finish.  However, I will say that I was VERY happy this evening when I went outside and saw this:

THIS just happens to be my favorite decoration EVER.  This is my ice cube frosty, and we bought him for the first Christmas K and I shared together.  Sadly, when I plugged him in yesterday he didn't light up all the way.  I had a mini-frosty meltdown (pun intended).  I hoped that he would magically come back to life... and guess what?  Well you already know because you just looked at that picture.  FROSTY LIVES.

I'm back to school this week (booo) so posting may be light this week.  I hope you guys had an awesome Thanksgiving!  Anyone else already preparing for the holidays?