When in Rome (or at Home)... Eat Carbonara

I need to provide a little background. If you've ever been around anyone that does CrossFit, you will have probably heard the term "Paleo" come up. The paleo diet basically refers to eating like a caveman, and consists of primarily eating wild plants and animals. For the most part, we try to follow the paleo diet Monday through Friday and then on the weekends we relax a bit and let ourselves indulge in some carbs and non-paleo alcohol.

Well, long story short, this blog post is not about being paleo. My point is, this post is the exact opposite of paleo! On our honeymoon in Italy this past September, we knew that paleo eating would be a thing of the past. I mean seriously, who goes to Italy and doesn't plan to eat enough pasta and bread to fill a small bus? Basically, we fell in love with pasta and pizza all over again in Rome (maybe because we had been depriving ourselves). 

Well, we've been craving some of those classic carb-loaded dishes ever since we returned. The one I've been thinking about most, spaghetti alla carbonara (although, cacio e pepe is arguably it's equally tasty, yet simpler, relative).
The BEST pizza I've ever put in my pizza-pie-hole. From Bonci's Pizzarium 
Spaghetti alla carbonara is like a staple in Rome (think perfectly al dente spaghetti coated in a cheesy/eggy sauce with small chunks of crispy and chewy ham throughout). However, it surprisingly hard to find in Italian restaurants in the States (well, good carbonara is). So, last Friday, I'm taking a little stroll through DiBruno Bros mini-market on my lunch break and I stumble upon this big hunk of pancetta. Ding ding ding! I get the bright idea to try and make some spaghetti alla carbonara at home that very evening. I call up the hubby, ask him to pick up a few essentials at the market and rush home, eagerly anticipating the moment when I'll get to shovel pounds of that pasta in my mouth.


A very merry coquito factory

My husband and I have a holiday tradition. Each year we make Coquito (think eggnog with cream of coconut and rum, lots of rum) as a gift for our families and ourselves. It helps to put us in the Christmas spirit and I'd like to think that we've become quite the professionals at whipping up industrial-sized batches of the liquid gold. 
Coquito ingredients, ready to go!
We've got this thing down to a science. First, we do the grocery and liquor store run to pick up all the essentials, then we get organized so we can just keep the batches brewing. BryGuy methodically measures the spices, vanilla extract and rum (that explains why it comes out so strong every year). 

I can be found hovering over the stove to make sure the egg yolks and evaporated milk heat up to a precise 160 degrees. Then we combine all ingredients in the VitaMix and let it rip. 

BryGuy carefully pours the Coquito into wine/bourbon bottles we've saved for the occasion or pitchers from around the house. Then we start taste-testing and BAM! it officially feels like Christmas Time. Here's the recipe we go with Coquito Recipe on Allrecipes, we may or may not double the suggested amount of rum...(we definitely double it). 

(Adapted from Allrecipes - makes 8 servings)

2 egg yolks, beaten
1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) can cream of coconut
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup white rum
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In small saucepan, combine egg yolks and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly, cook over lightly simmering water until mixture reaches a temperature of 160 degrees F. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Transfer mixture to a blender, and add cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum, water, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend for about 30 seconds. Pour into glass bottles, and chill overnight.

See more photos after the jump.


We had renter's remorse. But we got over it.

This past weekend we did the big move... approximately four blocks down the street from our former apartment. Originally BryGuy and I were going to do all of the heavy lifting on our own. Don't laugh! I do CrossFit, I'm quite strong. But the Man upstairs decided that we needed a little more assistance and he sent my wonderful father and brother from New York. Looking back, I really don't know how we would've done it without them. They were the best non-professional movers a girl could ask for (Thanks pops and Z!). We started loading the truck at 8 a.m. and had everything into our new apartment by 12:30 p.m. 

The evil U-Haul and BryGuy
(doesn't he look happy to be moving?)
There were a few hiccups, like our U-Haul's battery dying, twice, and our queen-sized box spring not fitting up the stairs to our bedroom. But other than that, things went well. When all of our furniture was moved to the new place, we did a very thorough cleaning of our old apartment. As we stood there in our bare apartment that we had lived in for almost three years, BryGuy and I got a little emotional. We loved that place, it has been our first "home" together, it's the home we lived in when we got married, we've laughed there, we've cried there, we've entertained our family and friends there, and the truth is we were starting to miss it already! It was in that moment that we started questioning whether or not we had made the right decision to move. We were faced with all of these boxes of unpacked things (and we were really really exhausted), and we started having regrets and doubts.


Modern Day Rules for Chivalry and Manners

Just call me Miss Manners from now on (not really, that’s obnoxious). But my Monday through Friday routine gets me thinking about manners frequently. Mainly, because people are quite rude. So, I thought I’d share some of my personal rules of how things would be if “Marissa ruled the world.”

1. Door holding I’m not cray cray, I appreciate if a gentleman holds a door for me, but it is not expected. There are times when you are approaching a door and it’s just weird and awkward to try and hold it open so the person behind you can enter through the door before you. So whatevs, if you do it, I appreciate it, if you don’t, I understand. What I do expect from people walking in front of me, male or female, is for them not to let the door slam in my face. That’s called being a decent human being. Also, if someone holds a door open for you so that it doesn't slam in your face, you should say “thank you.” That’s another thing that decent humans do. Car doors are a little different, I don’t think many lads do the car door opening thing anymore, but if you’re on a fancy date with a lady you’re trying to impress, I’m sure she’d be pleasantly surprised to have you open the car door for her. In return, the lady should unlock the car door for driver. Automatic locks help you out with that, but it’s the gesture that counts.

2. Meal paying – It is my firm opinion that the date ASKER should pay for the entire meal. Yes, nine times out of ten this means the guy will pay, but for you I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T. ladies out there, if you ask a dude out on a date, you should be ready to foot the bill. (If it's his birthday, or you're celebrating his promotion or something, it's only natural the lady should pay in those instances). While you are on a date, the bill will inevitably come. It is common courtesy for the person who accepted the date to offer to chip in for the bill. This should always be declined by the date asker. However, I strongly believe that the date-acceptor should find a way to make a small gesture of gratitude with his/her wallet on another occasion. For instance, he/she could offer to buy the popcorn and soda at the movies, or pay for the parking garage -- you get my drift. This simply signifies that the person is not a total mooch and is willing to drop some cash from time to time. It’s all about the giving and receiving in a relationship. 


Learning to Live in the Present

So true. Cartoon from MisterGoh.com
I had a mini-meltdown last night. Since I was a child, I’ve had issues sleeping when my anxiety levels are high. Even if my body is dead tired, I’ll be laying in bed desperately hoping to fall asleep, but my mind is wide awake and racing away. Well, last night was one of those nights. What’s there to be stress about, you say? These things tend to be anything and everything. Currently, I have a bit of anxiety about moving -- we have not begun to pack and we really only have one free weekend before our moving date. In addition, I notoriously have buyer's remorse about any place I move into. My remorse typically sets in when all of the cleaning needs to be done and I’m feeling like the people who lived in the apartment before me are disgusting filthy animals. 

But, I digress. Thoughts of the new apartment got me thinking about the larger living space and what that would mean for us. The minute we got married the questions began, “so when are you starting a family?” We usually give some vague response. But a major factor of waiting was that we couldn’t even fathom a family in our current one-bedroom apartment. Well, this past weekend one of our friends (basically my brother-in-law) really starting pressing us about it. It sort of forced us to think about a more tangible timeline, and we realized that in this new apartment, a family could become a reality. Then I started thinking about if I did have children, that I couldn’t imagine trying to raise them without my parents living nearby (both of our parent’s live in upstate New York). Then I was sad because I miss them. So as you can see, things quickly spiraled out of control. 

Well that was a long winded way of saying that the majority of my anxiety stemmed from the fact that I was getting ahead of myself. I love making plans for the future and I get excited thinking about how things will be. But I realize that it not only stresses me out, it also makes me lose sight of what is really great RIGHT NOW. 

I often have to snap out of these moments of anxiety (or rather BryGuy talks some sense into me) and realize that life is pretty darn good as it stands. Right now. Today. 

I have an amazing family, a loving and unbelievably handsome husband, hilarious and loyal friends, a roof over my head, hobbies I enjoy, and a job. Rather than stressing about things that are weeks or years down the road, I need to just take a deep breath and look forward to this evening and weekend.

Happy Friday everyone, go out and enjoy. The present is a present! (Or as Kanye would say, "My presence is a present, kiss my a**")


Pinterest Might Be a Public Health Nightmare

Never ever. I repeat NEVER EVER go on Pinterest when you are hungry. If you do, here’s what’s going to happen to you. You’ll find yourself in the category cleverly labeled “Food & Drink” (strangely, you will not remember having clicked into this category), your mouth will immediately begin to water. Then, you’ll find yourself aimlessly scrolling through vivid images of succulent meats and ooey gooey treats. Next thing you know, you’ve got this urge to make some crazy variation of pull-apart bread, a 14-layer multi-colored cake, and you want to bust out your dusty crockpot.

See what I'm talking about?!? Yum. 
I am developing a love-hate relationship with this site. Pinterest has been the source of inspiration for many of my kitchen creations, but at the same time it’s torturous. With so many dessert and carbo-loaded recipes, it’s actually become a challenge to find healthy recipes.

Yes, I know there is a whole category for health & fitness that contains some recipes. BUT I don’t want to sift through the thousands of inspirational reasons to be fit: Reason #654 Because you’re better than your fat!, Reason #2546 to prove that you don’t have to take ‘roids to get muscles!

In a very scientific study that I just performed my Pinterest Food & Drink category was comprised of this breakdown:

  • 33% - bread/pizza/pasta recipes
  • 33% - dessert recipes
  • 13% - crockpot recipes
  • 11% - healthy recipes
  • 9% - unhealthy snacks/appetizers
  • <1% - beverages
This post has inspired me to create two Pinterest boards: healthy options and sweets & treats
I love a good carb-laden meal from time-to-time but it’s becoming an increasing test of my willpower to eat clean after I see all of those unhealthy options online. I’d love to see a sub-category breakdown: healthy recipes, desserts, crockpot recipes, breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, vegetables. Maybe that’s making the whole idea of Pinterest too complicated but it would help me better find the kinds of recipes I’m looking for in the moment.

What changes or improvements would you make to Pinterest if you could? I’m sure their marketing team would love the free customer feedback!


We're Moving and I'm Getting a Dressing Room!

The hubs and I have been looking for a new apartment for about a month. While we LOVE our current spot, for its big open living room, separate dining room, and outdoor space. The main issues are that the bedroom is seriously tiny, closet and storage space have proven to be problematic, and we don't have a place for our guests to sleep comfortably. I feel that I'm of the age where I should no longer make my guests sleep on the couch or on an air mattress in the middle of my living room.

We wrote down the short list of our "must haves" in an apartment. That list included: outdoor space for grilling and dining, at least two bedrooms, a modern kitchen and bathroom, hardwood floors (BryGuy was really adamant on this one, he thinks lived-on carpets are yucky), and parking. After a few chaotic weeks of looking at apartments, we came across this lovely row home that had three bedrooms, two full baths and everything else on our checklist except parking. Truthfully, I'm a little concerned about finding parking everyday but if it gets horrible I could always pay for a spot or take a half-mile walk to get to the train station. 

Here's a sneak peek of our new kitchen: 

Since we will now have three decent sized bedrooms for just the two of us, I've we've decided that the smallest room will be my "dressing room". This will hopefully solve some of our disagreements about my girly things being thrown about in our current apartment. I'm most excited about this dream space in the new house, so I've been scouring Pinterest and a bunch of other sites for some inspiration. Since the room is pretty small (15' x 8') I want it to feel really bright, minimalist, and a little feminine. I would also like it to be able to function as a guest bedroom if need be, so that's where the futon or pull-out couch comes in. 

Below is my inspiration board for my new dressing room:

1. Silver mirror - Ikea $79.99
2. Acrylic chair - Sale Store (set of 2) $230.00
3. Black and white futon - Overstock $386.99
4. Silver dresser - J. Covington $1450.00
5. Lavender storage ottoman - Ballard Designs $527.00
6. Black and white chevron carpet - Overstock $167.44

Here are some other rooms that have the vibe I'm going for:
Closet featured on Song of Style 
Show house featured on Ana Antunes Home Styling
Showroom office featured on Centsational Girl
Clearly, I'm digging the black, white and silver/gray. I'd love to throw in a few pops of color to make it look a little less sterile. Do you guys and gals have any suggestions on how I should design my new dressing room?! 


Attention Women! It’s Time to Start Pumping Iron

Take a moment to pause on the hamster wheel, put down your celebrity gossip magazine and read this post. Here’s the thing, for a long time I was the girl spending the entire gym session on the elliptical or treadmill and then maybe dedicating 10-15 minutes to get on some weight machines. So, I get where your head's at. 

There were a few things holding me back from really dedicating time to weight lifting:

  1. I was concerned about what other people were thinking. Do they think I’m lifting too light/heavy? Am I doing the movement right? Are my pants see-through? All of these ridiculous things that go through my head...
  2. I was only comfortable doing the machines or movements I knew how to do. I went through the same “weight lifting” routine every time I was at the gym. Quad machine, hamstring machine, highly inappropriate ad/abductor machines (the ones that make you look like you’re at the gyno), a few curls, bench press with dumbbells, and a few other random exercises. Looking back, I realize how most of them were targeting a single muscle, not a whole group of muscles, and I wasn't lifting weights that were particularly challenging. So, I really was not working very efficiently in the time that I was weight lifting.
  3. I was primarily focused on the calorie burn! The cardio machines give you this lovely little number that tells you how many calories you’re burning. I was aware that the number was totally inaccurate, and yet I still lived by it. 400 calories!?! That makes up for the ice cream I ate last night, only 300 more to go to cancel out that bag of chips I ate at lunch. I couldn’t as easily “quantify” the calories I was burning during my weight lifting time, so it became less valuable.

Here’s where I was wrong (and I only learned to believe this when I actually started doing it. So I fully understand that you’re probably going to read this and ignore it). With weight training you will see results in far less time than you will on the cardio machine. Whether you’re trying to tone up or lose pounds, it’s going to happen faster when you get serious about lifting weights. I’m so tired of hearing the “lighter weights, more reps helps tone muscles”, “heavy weight, less reps helps build muscle” bologna. That’s just not true. Heavier weights = more calorie burn and muscle production. More muscle = higher metabolism and less fat. Boom.

Here’s the fact. You’re NOT going to look like this, unless you’re trying to look like this:

You can, however, look like this (toned and feminine):

Stop being scared, stop being a headcase, start reading some magazines that talk about weight lifting, and start lifting! One of my favorite fitness magazines is Oxygen - these women are strong, healthy, and toned, but they look perfectly normal and attractive in everyday clothing.

My husband recently sent me this article: 10 Things Women Weight Lifters Should Know I think it’s a good mental prep article. Although, I’ve never cried at the gym, and I’ve yet to pee myself...but at least I have those things to look forward to.


The Last Supper...Before Sandy

We weren't really sure what to expect from Hurricane Sandy, turns out, we were graciously spared from her wrath in our neighborhood of Philadelphia. However, in preparation for the storm I thought I would cook up a big dinner and hopefully have some leftovers that we could dig into if we lost power. 

Whenever I'm in need of a real rustic home-cooked meal, I turn to a great recipe for braised short ribs (courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine) made in the slow-cooker. Also, I whipped up a cauliflower mash and brussels sprouts with bacon and onion. AND since we had picked up a bag of apples from the orchard - purchased during our quest for cider doughnuts, I thought I might as well make some apple crisp to wash it all down. 

braised short ribs
Braised short ribs - see full recipe
apple crisp
Apple crisp a la mode
See more photos of this dinner after the jump! 


The Quest for Cider Doughnuts

In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, BryGuy and I decided that we needed to go out and stock up on a few essential items. You know things like batteries, candles, water, alcohol, food, etc. On this list of "essentials" was cider doughnuts. Hey, if we're going to be trapped in our apartment for a few days, we want some sugary treats to shove down our pie holes.

cider doughnuts
Cider Donuts
BryGuy spent a few minutes on the Google Machine and soon enough we discovered there was an orchard 35 miles away. Highland Orchards also is acclaimed as the Best of Philly winner for best cider doughnuts, so it was only natural that we had to hop in the car and get to these doughnuts! We pulled up to the most adorable farm, complete with goats, a little vintage shop, lots of apples and root veggies, a bakery, and activities for the kiddies. 

We grabbed a gallon of apple cider, a dozen cider doughnuts, and a basket of apples. We parked our derrières at a picnic tablea and started to dig in. It was such a mild and beautiful Autumn day it's hard to believe there's a superstorm about to wreak havoc on the Northeast.

Diggin' in!

See more photos after the jump!


A Favorite Activity With the Hubs (Yes, It’s G-Rated)

You might know that I like to cook based on my previous posts, but did you know that BryGuy is a serious grill master? I really love when we get home from work on a summer day and deciding that it’s a grilling night;: burgers, steak, chicken, you name it, we grill it. That means he starts preparing the charcoal and the meat and I come up with some veggies to accompany it. This works wonderfully for us because we each have our own domains (I’m not so good about people hovering around the kitchen while I’m cooking). 

pepper crusted steak in cast iron skillet
BryGuy’s been itching to grill some steaks that he bought but the weather wasn’t cooperating so he decided to do a cast-iron skillet grill session instead. While he “grilled” away at the stove, I whipped up a sweet potato puree and simple garden salad with homemade dressing. While I’m sad that the summer and “official” grilling season is over, I’m looking forward to more evenings where we share the kitchen and prepare a nice meal together. 

Get recipes for the salad dressing and sweet potato purée after the jump.


Tips for Future Brides - Part II

This is part II of the "Tips for future brides" series. See Tips for Future Brides - Part I here. 

Limit your DIYs. 

Stick with your area of expertise and know what will just be an added stress. As much as I seriously considered the idea of making my own centerpieces, I came to my senses. I am however, pretty handy with some graphic design software and figured I could put that to use by making my save the dates, ceremony programs and menus. I also rigged up a weird light-box thing in my living room to do my own calligraphy on my invitations. The key is to pick things that won’t take more money (remember time = money) than they end up appearing to your guests. If you have some Photoshop skills NextDayFlyers has a great product line at really affordable prices. If you're a novice designer looking for something pretty basic, Vistaprint has some decent offerings as well. 

DIY  save the dates, ceremony programs, and menus

Stay organized. 

I was a big proponent of spreadsheets as an organizational tool. I had a spreadsheet for my to-do checklist, one for the budget, and other for the guest list (which turned into the RSVP tracking sheet as well). Whatever your organization method may be, make sure you’re staying on top of it. I also had a binder to keep all receipts and contracts in one place. See my month-by-month to do list for wedding planning. There were many websites and books with various checklists but I found that none of them were comprehensive enough for me, so I made my own. The bottom line is, you should use whatever organization method that works for you.

Be ready for stressful moments. 

You will likely have tricky RSVP situations, disagreements about the guest list, and last minute additions and cancellations. Realize that these are natural and unavoidable things, and try to make those “situations” last for the least amount of time possible. Work with your fiancé and family to come up with a solution and determine who’s responsible for taking action on it. 

Choose your vendors wisely.

I cannot stress how important this is. Your hair and makeup team are some of the first folks you see on your wedding day, are they going to keep you relaxed, make you laugh, and help you feel beautiful? Mine did, they were absolutely fabulous and I couldn't have picked a better team to work with! Your photographer is going to be by your side all day. Are you comfortable with him/her? Does he/she mesh with you and your groom's personalities. While there are lots of choices and reviews out there, one of the best sources of info about prospective vendors is your friends and family. Find out who they used, whether or not they liked working with them, and whether or not they'd hire them again if they had to do it all over again. 

I can honestly say that all of my vendors were amazing and I would hire them again in a heartbeat. I'm going to write reviews about each of them, when I do I'll come back here and provide the links directly to my reviews. 

Let your fiancé have his things. 

Once your guy does all the hard work of picking out the perfect engagement ring for you, the spotlight moves away from him and onto you. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things that you want, that you fail to ask him what he wants. Do the occasional check-in, “Hey, do you want to help me pick out the invitations/centerpieces/bridesmaid dresses? No? Okay, I got it covered.” There were some things that BryGuy really cared about, the music and his attire. So I let him take the lead in both of those areas. Ultimately, it took some things off of my plate and gave him an important role in the wedding planning.

That's James Bond, not my husband...my husband's tux was way better.
See Tips for Future Brides - Part I here. Also, you might be interested in finding out how I'm getting over post-wedding depression

Did I miss any good advice that we think future brides out there should be aware of?!


Tips for Future Brides - Part I

One of my family friends recommended that I write a blog during the wedding planning process to help future brides. I liked the idea, but was not sure how I would be able to transition the blog post-wedding. The truth is, my wedding planning went as smooth as such things can go, and I may not have been much help. There were a few tidbits I learned along the way that I’m happy to share.

As I started to write my "tips" I realized I had more to share than I expected and therefore have split this up into a two-part post.

Read Tips for Future Brides - Part II

Start early. 
Whether you are planning with a few months lead time or years in advance. Do as much as you can, as early as you can. For certain things like choosing your venue, or picking vendors (dj/band, florist, caterer) do some initial research, narrow it down to a few options, get quotes, make your decision, and book it. The longer you think about the possibilities, the more stressed you will become. Also, you will need to buy a lot of things for the wedding: veil, shoes, accessories, undergarments, etc. If you buy these things early, it won’t feel like you’re running around like a shopping maniac in the last few weeks. Here is my month-by-month to do list for wedding planning. Hopefully it helps someone somewhere - obviously you can modify the timeline to meet your own needs. 

Be realistic. 

Yes, Pinterest has amazing wedding pictures and tips,. Yes, there are hundreds of blogs you can read that will inspire you. But, do you have an unlimited budget for your big day? NO. (Well, if you do then we probably can’t relate and this blog may not be of interest to you anymore). My point being - there is only so much you’re going to be able to cram in between day one of engagement and the wedding day. Be realistic about what you can do, what you can afford, and what your expectations are.
My Pinterest Wedding Board

Have a rain plan. 

Believe it or not, it does rain from time to time. (See my photo in the banner? Yes, that’s rain pouring down on us.) As much as we all want the gorgeous sunny, not-too-hot, and humidity-free wedding day, sometimes that’s just not in the cards. If you’re okay with the fact that it may be rainy, cold, or otherwise not ideal for an outdoor wedding, then feel free to plan wedding activities outside. But always, I repeat ALWAYS have a contingency plan. If you do happen to have rain on your wedding day, you will hear your fair share of people saying it’s “good luck”, which may or may not be true, but it does have its advantages! Because of the rain, the groom and I were able to spend more time at our cocktail hour and EAT because we weren’t driving around for photos in three locations. Also, because we had an amazing photographer (Bailly Photography), we got one of the most unique and beautiful rain photos ever! If it rains, embrace it, get out there and get wet!

Another rain photo courtesy of @baillyphoto on Instagram 

Believe in your decisions. 

You’re going to be making what feels like one million decisions for your wedding. For those indecisive individuals out there, not believing in your decisions will make you question everything and will become a burden. Try to make an informed and gut decision -- then stick with it. There was a reason you decided that color/vendor/invitation/insert noun here, now accept it and move on. 

*Bonus tip: A great piece of advice my husband’s cousin gave me was to number the back of the rsvp card - the number corresponds to the guest’s row on your spreadsheet. You will not believe how many people either don’t write legibly or just leave their names off the rsvp card altogether.

Read Tips for Future Brides - Part II

Also you may be interested in learning how I'm fighting post-wedding depression


Why Italy is Cooler than America

Let me preface this by saying I really don’t think that Italy is that much cooler than America. Just cooler in certain ways. Ways that I think are perfectly adaptable in the U.S. and could ultimately make us the coolest of all.

Inexpensive wine is available at every restaurant. At every restaurant no matter how fancy or casual you can get a bottle (yes, a BOTTLE) of house wine for 8-10 euros. It’s also delicious house wine, better than many $40 bottles at restaurants in the U.S. Yes, I know this has a lot to do with proximity and import tariffs, but we produce some excellent wines in the States and there are very few restaurants that have a decent selection of bottles under $20. 

Mopeds. Enough said. 

A general slower pace of life. There’s no rush walking down the street and Italians are certainly in no hurry to finish a meal. In fact, it’s almost a challenge to get your bill at the end of your dinner. The waitstaff is perfectly content letting you sit at your table for hours after you’re done eating, just chatting and drinking your wine or an espresso. It seems they just have a better grasp on how to live in the moment.


Oktoberfest is my favorite holiday

Alright, maybe it is not my actual favorite, but it’s close third behind Christmas and Thanksgiving.

For the past six years or so, my parent’s have held an annual Oktoberfest party. My late grandmother was German, she made a mean potato salad and delicious red cabbage. Her father owned a meat shop on Broadway in Albany, New York. As I was surfing the world wide web I stumbled upon this old newspaper advertisement for Moch Meat Products from 1951. (The ad is in the far right column under the Miscellaneous section.) My great grand pappy would cure, smoke, or cut up your fresh pig! Isn't that adorable?

Oktoberfest - bratwurst and franks
Brats and Franks


The 30 second egg breakfast

I fibbed a bit. It takes about 15 minutes to put the egg “casserole” together and about 45 minutes to bake it. BUT in the morning when I’m running out the door (always late), I grab the little baggie with my egg in it. I get to work, make my coffee and pop the cutie little egg square in the microwave for 30 seconds and voilà, a protein-filled breakfast that holds me over until lunch time. 

I used to make this in a muffin tin but that proved to be extremely problematic to clean. I decided to try it in a casserole dish lined with the pancetta for easy removal. I found this method much easier. 

You could switch up the recipe and omit the cheese and/or bacon, add some veggies (however, I don't believe in eating vegetables for breakfast). Play around with it, make it your own!


Post-Wedding Depression is Legit

Image from Save the Date Events blog
I knew it would happen to me. I saw it coming a mile away, and yet, I still wasn't prepared. Post-wedding depression smacked me in the face the moment I stepped foot on U.S. soil after my honeymoon.

Let me back up, I LOVED planning my wedding and I genuinely enjoyed every single part of it. Don't get me wrong, there were some stressful moments, but I never hit that point where I thought, "I'm tired of planning and just want to have the wedding already!" My absolute favorite part of the process was the browsing and dreaming. With thousands of wedding blogs and an entire wedding section on Pinterest (see my Wedding Board), you can get lost for hours just looking at beautiful, unique, and really personal weddings. Needless to say, I spent far too much of my free time after work and between gym sessions browsing, getting ideas, and envisioning our special day.

Once the wedding was over BryGuy and I would reflect on how awesome the day was, recapping our favorite moments. Pictures started coming in from friends and family that allowed us to relive the day while on our honeymoon. Once we returned from vacation I started to face the grim reality that awaited me, I was going to have to go back to "life as usual." I had no big event to look forward to anymore, no blissful vacation to talk about, and I started to get really sad. That’s when I knew that post-wedding depression was a real thing. But I’m determined to snap out of this in a timely fashion.


Bacon wrapped water chestnuts

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Makes approximately 50 appetizer bites

2 lbs bacon

3 cans whole water chestnuts (8 oz. cans)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons (approximately) soy sauce 
2 tablespoons (approximately) Worchestershire sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Take a water chestnut (or cut them in half if they are big) and roll them in half of a piece of raw bacon. Stick the roll with a toothpick
  3. Line up your bacon rolls in a casserole dish with the toothpicks pointing up
  4. Sprinkle liberally with brown sugar
  5. Shake soy sauce and Worchestershire sauce over the top of the bundles. (Give a quick sprinkle over the top making sure that each little roll gets hit with a dash of soy and Worchestershire)
  6. Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes or until browned and cooked through (this might take a little longer if you use thick cut bacon)


Putting Marissa Says… on the Interwebs

I’ve gone and done it. I have been thinking about starting a blog for years, literally years, but I’ve finally found the cojones to just sit down and make it happen. The biggest roadblock was that I couldn’t settle on what the blog was going to be about. Instead, I’ve decided NOT to decide what it’s going to be about. What I can say is that the focus of the blog will be me. I can hear my parents now, “…she always did think the world revolved around her.”

Marissa says… will touch on my main interests: food, fitness, fashion, entertaining, and design. However, I imagine that it will also hit on some other subjects from time to time – life as a newlywed, activities around Philly, work, etc. I really don’t want to put any limitations on this thing. I want to let it evolve organically, and see where it ends up.

So folks, here it is, the first post.

What I do know is that my goal is to have this be interactive, tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like, give me feedback! Otherwise I’m just talking to myself.

Just as a heads up - I have purchased www.marissasays.com but I'm having trouble linking that domain to my blogger account. However, I hoping to get that sorted out shortly. I'll be sure to let you know when it's up and running and you can bookmark that link instead!
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