Highlights of 2013

I rang in 2013 with a bang. We took a party bus to Atlantic City (which was cray) and partied to the funky beats of Tiesto for the New Years countdown and then ate all of the food we could find in Revel. It was so much fun! 

This year will be a little different, we're headed to Butcher & Singer for a swanky steak dinner with a small group of friends. New Years always gets me feeling a little sentimental... another year has gone by, lots of memories made, and new goals and dreams are set for the future. But, before I get into my new goals post (which will come later this week) I thought I would run through some highlights of 2013. 


My favorite gifts

Christmas was amazing this year. For one, we got to spend a full week with our families! It was so nice to be able to stay longer than a weekend and have some quality chill time with our parents and my siblings. I also am fully aware that I overindulged on life (and food and drink) over the past seven days and need to step away from the cookies for the next month or more. I'm so blessed to have such generous people in my life and I wanted to share some really cool stuff that I scored this holiday! Read on for details and links. 


A reunion dinner

I met up with these crazy girls for a little reunion dinner at the The Ginger Man in Albany. This is the first time we've all been back in the area in a long time and we had a dinner filled with laughs, hilarious gift giving, alcoholic beverages, and a special announcement! The Ginger Man is nostalgic for our group and it didn't disappoint this time. The food was great and the atmosphere was perfect for a catch-up with my bffs.


Roasted red pepper, leek and potato soup

This recipe is one I've been dreaming about for years. My dad made this soup for Christmas Eve years ago (soup on Christmas Eve is our tradition) and it was so yummy I've thought about it ever since. So, I scoured the interwebs and finally found a recipe that was similar, if not identical, and whipped up a batch for a holiday party we were attending. The soup received lots of positive feedback and will definitely be put on my regular dinner rotation. This year, pops is making a corn and crab chowda! I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Full recipe and additional photos can be found below. 


Ten happy moments of the week

Image credit: Found on Pinterest, original source unknown. If you know the original source of this image or own rights to it, please let me know and I’ll credit/remove as appropriate.

Also, can I just say, how can smoking which is kind of a gross habit, look so beautiful when photographed?!

1. Last weekend, I competed in the CrossFit Hardbat Holiday competition and it was a lot of fun. I haven't competed in a while and it was exciting and stressful all at the same time. I learned that I definitely prefer team competitions over individual ones.

2. Receiving my parent's Christmas card and spotting the little typo that said it was Christmas 2015.

3. Having a really nice relaxing holiday breakfast with my co-workers to close out the year together.

4. Finishing up most of my shopping this week and feeling stress-free on the shopping front. Amazon Prime totally saved my ass this year.

5. A fun little Twitter chat with Philly Blog Love on Monday night. I've never participated in a twitter chat, but I was really impressed with how smooth it went and I had a lot of fun doing it! I'm already excited for the next one.

6. Hit a new personal record (PR) on my clean & jerk at the gym this week. Woohoo!

7. I successfully set up a girl's night dinner with my girlfriends from high school when we're all in town next week. It's going to be so nice to see all of them when we are home for the holidays.

8. Something is in the air these days... I'm surrounded by pregnant women and I love it! I love hearing all of their stories about how things are going and sharing in their joy and excitement.

9. Making cookies and eating way too many of them.

10. Getting my spice shelf organized. I know that's so lame. But honestly the thing was driving me nuts. Every time I opened it, cinnamon or some other jar of something would fall on my head. It was so annoying! I found a little wooden spice organizer thing at Home Goods (kind of like this) the other night and it's a lifesaver. Now I can see where everything is and all of my spices have a proper home. (Honestly, it's the little things in life that make the biggest difference.)


Cookies, cookies, and some more cookies

It's national cookie month. No, it's not, that's actually October. But I have no idea why it's not December! There has to be more cookies made and consumed in the month of December than all of the other months combined. At least that's how it goes in my house. I've been working hard in the kitchen these past couple of weeks to make up some delicious cookies to give out as gifts. Also, I have a policy that for every cookie I give away, I get to eat one as well. It's doing wonders for my waistline...

This year I made an assortment of treats -- Polka Dot Merigues which are my father's favorite and surprisingly not that difficult to make (even though meringue gets a bad rap.) Shortbread Bites, which are my personal favorite, they are so simple and so buttery. And lastly, I added Oatmeal Caramel Bars to my repertoire this season. I brought them to a party and they were a huge hit, so I whipped up some more to share with others. Get all the recipes and see more photos below. 


Last-minute shopping tips

So, you have seven days left to shop... don't panic. That won't help. I've got some tips for you if you have a few last-minute items to pick up or if you haven't even purchased one gift yet. Also, last week I put together a holiday gift guide if you still need some inspiration. 


Haters they gonna hate

A brief narrative about how I plan to contribute more positive energy to society. 


Ten happy moments of the week

Image credit: Meisi Photography on Flickr, image found on Pinterest

1. Wine, wine, wine - it is the nectar of the Gods after all. I love smelling it, swirling it, swooshing it, slurping it and guzzling it from an over-sized wine glass. No, I don't have a problem. You have a problem -- you're judgmental!

2. Beyonce's secret album release. Merry Christmas to all! 

3. A weekend away with some great girls. There were so many laughs and stories shared. 

4. Decorating the tree and house for the holidays with BryGuy. During our decorating we decided that we are going to start a new tradition this year to exchange a special gift on Three Kings Day

5. Finding a killer deal on an awesome chair. I was doing some holiday shopping at TJ Maxx yesterday and came across this hidden gem in the back of the store away from the rest of the furniture. Bry and I have been looking for just the right piece to finish off our living room and this might just be it! Photos to come soon. 

6. Safe travels. It was a bit of a scary ride there heading up to New York this weekend and I'm feeling blessed to have made it in one piece with no major issues. 

7. Home Alone 2. I can't get enough and I laugh out loud every time. 

8. Planning a mini-reunion with my high school girlfriends when we're all back "home" in December. I'm so excited to see them! 

9. Checking off lot of items from my Christmas list. I'm so thankful for Amazon Prime and two-day shipping! 

10. Coming home from the weekend to a clean house and a husband who missed me. It doesn't get much better than that. 


A little wine and a whole lot of mischief

What's better than a girls weekend away? I'd say a girls weekend away that involves wineries, breweries, distilleries, a private limo and lots of ridiculousness. We headed up to the Finger Lakes in New York and hit up lots of wineries along the Seneca and Cayuga Wine Trails. Luckily, we had our trusty driver, Austin to safely transport us from place to place. At the end of each day we headed back to our beautiful cabin on the lake and shared some dinner, played games, and laughed. A lot. The trip was full of lots of girly bonding time. (No, no lingerie pillow fights.)


2013 holiday gift guide

Are you in a panic looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list? I'm right there with you. Since I'm in full-fledged shopping mode for Christmas, I figured I would throw a little bit of my inspiration your way. I pulled together three gift lists that will hopefully help you find that special something for that special something. Let me know if there's any other must-buys this year that you've come across.


Ten happy moments of the week

I missed my happy moments post last Friday, so this one includes some moments from the week prior too. 

1. So many laughs at the Thanksgiving table! I'm so thankful for a family that doesn't take things too seriously and isn't afraid to be silly. 

2. Finally getting started on my holiday shopping. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed about getting it all done, but I made a list of people I want to buy for and I'm just going to get to it. 

3. Turkey terrifics. They make me oh so happy. 

4. We had a little power outage a few Sundays ago, which stressed me out at first because I had things I needed to cook, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because BryGuy and I enjoyed an few hours of technology-free cuddling and laughing in bed. 

5. Taking a little time out from cooking prep to go race go-karts with my family.

6. Going to see Catching Fire with my bro and sis. I love when just the three of us get to hang out. 

7. Christmas decorations. I just love seeing my office and the city all spruced up with poinsettias, lights, trees, wreaths and all that good stuff. 

8. I loved meeting up with some of my former coworkers for lunch, it was so nice to catch up and hear about everything they've been up to and I'm really proud of them both.

9. Bry singing Johnny Mathis Christmas carols in the car. He does a really good impression, you should ask him to sing for you. 

10. Finding my credit card that I dropped and realizing someone is definitely watching over me. 


Paleo Shepard's Pie

Shepard's pie is the ultimate comfort food, but if you go with the full-fat, extra glutenous recipe, you might end up feeling like a blob when you're finished (and that's not so comforting). This paleo version swaps out the traditional mashed potato topping for a cauliflower mash that makes it healthier, but still keeps it comforting! Also, it's chock full of veggies so you're sure to get your daily intake with a serving or two of this. Feel free to play around with the vegetables included and use whatever you have lying around!


Holiday party style guide

'Tis the season of the holiday shindig. With weekends booking up like it's nobody's business, you're going to want some different options. Most have a bit of fanciness to them, I mean come on, it is the holidays after all, but all of them could easily be toned down. Plus the last option is SUPER comfortable. 

Which look is your favorite? Do tell. 


Feeling like a turkey

I hope you didn't forget about me! I certainly didn't forget about you! I really had all intentions of writing a few posts on this here blog while I was in New York for Thanksgiving. I even brought home my laptop and camera! But alas, family time got the best of me and I left you hanging all week. We were hosting my aunt, uncle and cousins for the week so we had a full house and it was awesome. We took a little break from prepping and cooking on Wednesday to visit FastTrax Raceway which recently opened by my parent's house. Then Thursday, we stuffed our faces. All day long. The rest of the week and weekend involved hanging with friends, playing games (my family is big on games), watching movies, celebrating my grandma's birthday and eating turkey leftovers (so. much. turkey.) See photos from the holiday below. 

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