Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Here is to 2013!

    This year was especially busy and special for me.  It was not only the year of our wedding, but it was a year full of so many incredible memories.  Throughout the year so many of my friends and family went out of their way to host and be present for so many of our wedding events.  I am still blown away by the generosity and selflessness of all my friends and family. I am so so so lucky.  I am sad to see this year end because this year is going to be quiet hard to top, but I am also so excited to see what the next year brings.

      I can't believe a year ago I was just (sort of) newly engaged and had just sent out our engagement Christmas cards.

....and this year we are already married! 

I just love looking back and seeing where I was just a year ago.  
Full 2013 recap to come soon. 

Tonight we will be celebrating New Year's Eve with some of our closest friends and also celebrating a friend's 30th birthday!!   
I can't wait to break out these cocktail napkins tonight with one of my favorite phrases.  
Happy New Years to all and to all a good night!! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

And There It Goes

    I know you've heard this a million times, but how has Christmas already passed?? I really could have used that extra week in between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year   I finally started and finished wrapping gifts only days before Christmas and our Christmas cards didn't go out until the 23rd  Oops. I really cannot blame anyone but myself. Did we really need to attend every Christmas party we were invited to this year?  Could I have skipped some events and prepared more?? Sure, but then I wouldn't have enjoyed the true Christmas hustle and bustle.

      This past week was so fun filled and was spent with so many friends and family. I loved every second of it. Last week my good friend Steel Magnolia who recently moved south was in town and I couldn't wait to meet her new baby boy.  Friday night we enjoyed some cider and apps and oohed and ahhed over her adorable little boy. 

         DFH was a true baby whisperer and quieted the little man with ease. It was too cute to see. 

     Last Saturday we attended a friend's golf themed thirtieth birthday party and had fun dressing the part.  

  About thirty of us dressed in our best golf attire and piled in a party bus and had the best time traveling through the city and stopping at various bars and restaurants. 

Sorry for the blue lighting from the bus. 

           Monday I got together with some of my favorite Pittsburgh Elon girls who were in town for Christmas. We are spread from California to Pittsburgh to DC so it is so nice when we can all get together in person. 

    On Tuesday night DFH and I headed home to NJ and got a chance to celebrate our first married Christmas together with both our families. We were way too spoiled by everyone with gifts. The rest of the week was spent running around trying to see as many friends as possible before heading back to Pittsburgh. 

Oliver enjoyed his first Christmas too.  

     This weekend was low key as we attempted to recover from all the Christmas festivities.  We did get a chance to go to a new local wine bar, The Allegheny Wine Mixer.  (Yes it is named after the Catalina Wine Mixer from the movie Step Brothers)

We tasted a variety of wines and enjoyed the make your own cheese and meat plates and gourmet grill cheeses. 
    The wild boar salami and chicken liver pate was to die for, so, local Pittsburghers you must give this a try. 

After organizing the house and putting away our new Christmas treasurers we ended the weekend on the couch. 

I don't think I am ready to take down our tree, it went too fast. 

Please ignore the missing ornaments on the bottom half of our tree and the tree skirt mess.  A certain creature named Oliver can't keep his hands off of them.  

Until next year Christmas!! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chicken & Corn Chowder

     Is there anything better in the winter then enjoying a hearty soup for dinner on Sunday night?  Maybe it's just us, but after a jam packed weekend and a Sunday full of errands we always seem to want to end our weekend with comfort food that will leave us full and happy before staring the work week. Soup is our go-to because soup well it's just comforting and in the winter I just crave hot soup 24/7 because it warms my belly and soul.  

We recently acquired several new cookbooks as wedding gifts so we have been testing out some new dishes from our new cookbooks. 

One of my favorite new cookbooks we received is The Weeknight Cook from Williams-Sonoma. Most of the recipes include ingredients  we already have in our fridge and pantry and can be prepared in under an hour which is exactly what this house needs when preparing weeknight meals. 

Last Sunday we tried the chicken and corn chowder and it will most certainly become a staple in this household.  As usual we modified  the recipe based upon the ingredients we had in the house and cut out some of the extra calories and fat.  



  • 4 bacon slices, chopped -----> we cut this out
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut ----> we used chicken breasts
      into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 6 green onions, white and pale green parts,
      thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half ---> we used fat free half and half
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 


Cook the bacon
In a saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat from the pan.

Cook the vegetables and chicken
Add the bell pepper, corn and potatoes to the same pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers are just softened and the corn and potatoes are lightly tinged with gold, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, covered, until opaque throughout, 5 to 7 minutes.

Finish the chowder
Stir in the green onions, thyme and half-and-half. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chowder into bowls, sprinkle with the bacon and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Weeknight, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2006).


Monday, December 16, 2013

Our Weekend

We are in the prime of ugly sweater season and this past weekend DFH and I had no shortage of ugly sweater events.

Friday night DFH and I attended a "Make Your Own Ugly Sweater" event at the Society For Contemporary Craft for their Craft and Draft event where they partner with a local brewery and provide local brews while you make your craft.  All we had to do was bring a sweater and they provided all the supplies, beer, and snacks.   Crafts, beer, and food, sounded like a night of perfection to me. 

Our before and after ugly sweaters. 

 DFH had his melting snowman by the fire idea before we even arrived so he got right to work on his sweater, not even pausing to enjoy some Church Brew Works beer which was quite the shock for the beer lover that he is.  

      On the other hand I went into the event with no plan for my sweater, but later decided to add a reindeer, a bow, and some festive polka dots.  Here I am with my reindeer mid-fur.   

The aftermath.  All set for our ugly sweater party on Saturday night. 

    Saturday night we attended DFH's work party which had an ugly sweater theme. We proudly sported our homemade duds. I may even sport my homemade sweater on Christmas Eve this year.  

Sunday was spent being lazy and doing some last minute Christmas shopping.  

    Sunday was snowy and cold, a perfect day to wear my new puffy Lands End vest and some wellies while out running errands.  Lands End has regularly offered 40% off  your purchase this month on their website, so this vest was a steal and I know I will got a ton of use out of it  this season. 
We ended our weekend with a homemade crock pot chicken meal  and prepared for the week ahead.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#throwbackthursday: The Bachelorette Party

     Happy Thursday and to my Instagramers Happy #tbt ( Throw Back Thursday)!  Since I still have not gotten around to posting about all the pre-wedding events, I have decided to do a few #TBT posts.   Today's #TBT is my Bachelorette Party. 

 My Bachelorette party was held over Labor Day weekend on Long Beach Island and in Atlantic City, NJ.  I wanted to keep my bachelorette weekend small since we were staying at my parent's beach house for part of the weekend, so we kept it to just the bridal party ( and my mom for Friday night  ).


My mom did an amazing job decorating the house with little bridal details

    I know I am biased but I seriously do have the best friends and bridal party ever.  My bridesmaids came in from all across the country, one of my girls even drove 12 hours just to make it to my special weekend.  

   The girls got in Friday and we spent time at the beach before the festivities started.  Friday night we made "make your own pizza"  using Naan bread as crust and using a variety of toppings.  This was a hit and an easy way to accommodate all my friend's dietary needs and different

   We then finished the night by drinking too many glasses of champagne and Moscow Mules.  My mom is so much fun and knows all of my bridesmaids well, so it was so fun to have her celebrate with us Friday night.

One of my bridesmaids ALV made these personalized water bottles for everyone which came out so cute.  She is so talented!

For favors I got each of my bridesmaids LBI wine glasses and filled them with mints, lip gloss, and hair ties I made as a thank you for all the girls.

We also had personalize sunglasses made which certainly got their use over the weekend. 
(see below)

    Saturday we headed down to Atlantic City and stayed at Revel for the night.  During the day we lounged by the pool, checked out the boardwalk, and casinos and then started getting ready for our big night out. 

Casino Life

We all got ready and my sweet bridesmaids threw me a lingerie shower before dinner.  We all posed for pictures, drank more champagne and then headed to dinner at Amada a Tapas restaurant in Revel.  It was so delicious, if you are ever in the area I would recommend it. 

With my MOH

Red carpet ready.

    Finally, we were ready to put our dancing shoes on and we made our way to Royal Jelly a Burlesque bar in Revel.  We danced and danced and danced with and without our sunglasses. 

This picture pretty much sums up the whole night.

The next day we headed back to Long Beach Island and nursed our hangovers with TV, movies and some sun. 

# TBT #bestweekendever #takemeback

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Starting New Christmas Traditions: Christmas Tree Stumps

  In December of 2011 I came across the following article in my Better Homes & Gardens magazine about a family that cut off the bottom of their Christmas tree stump each year and would save them and label each stump with the year and their family's names.   They then hung each stump from the mantle.  I fell in love with the rustic holiday look it created and fell even more in love with the tradition and the memories it captured of each tree from year to year.  I immediately cut out the article.

I tried to locate the article online, but couldn't find it.  I know it is from the December 2011 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. 
   2011 also happened to be the 1st year DFH and I started living together.   I remember showing him the article and we both agreed this was something we would do each year.  This past week we acquired our third Christmas tree stump together and in addition to adding the #3 and 2013 to the stump we will also be including our newest member of the family, kitten Oliver and will write that it was our wedding year.  

   At this point we only have three stumps so it will obviously take many years to come before we can fill our mantle with hanging stumps of all our Christmas trees together.  (Right now we hang them on our Christmas Tree ). Not to be sappy, but I am looking forward to future  tree stumps that one day hopefully include children's name or other exciting events that happen each year.     

   Each year when we get our Christmas tree we ask one of the employees at the nursery/ tree farm to cut off the bottom inch of the tree for us, and then we keep the one inch slab and let it dry out.  The stump is usually pretty wet from being in the ground and outside and we usually let the stump dry for at least a month and then decorate it the following December.   So as of now I only have our two stumps to show you, number three is drying and will be ready for the mantle next December. 

   What are your favorite holiday traditions??

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers

  Is it just me or do you feel like you are always searching for that little something extra to add to your holiday gifts?

These gifts below in my opinion are the perfect "extras" to add to stockings or holidays gifts.  And if you are like me you should probably grab one of each for yourself

1.Smith's Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm: I have had my Smith's for over a year and have barely put a dent in it, the lip balm will most likely go bad before I run out of it.  Although the $7 price tag is a bit steep for lip balm in my opinion, it is so moisturizing and also adds a little color and gloss to your lips 

2. Hair Ties: You can purchase these at Anthropologie or multiple Etsy shops or make your own like I do, for a quarter of the price. All you need is the elastic color of your choice which you can pick up at Michael's or Joann Fabrics and a pair of scissors. You can You Tube search for tutorials. I have made these for my wedding bathroom baskets, my mom's tennis team, and for friends and they are always a hit.

                  Who doesn't need more hair ties in their life, especially fun homemade ones. 

3. Gift Cards:  I know this isn't original, but I am not a gift card person when it comes to giving people gifts.  I feel like it's not personal. I don't know why I feel this way because I love to receive gift cards.  However I love the idea of adding gift cards to gifts.  Such as adding a gift card to your local liquor store with a set of wine glasses so that your gift recipient can pick out their favorite wine or adding a gift card for a boutique grocery store with the gift of a cookbook or cooking accessories.


4. Monogram Vinyls.  You know I couldn't complete this list without adding at least one monogrammed item, I just can't help it.  These vinyls are the perfect gift for anyone to add to their phone, computer, wine glass, or planner.  I also love the idea of adding monogrammed vinyls to the inside of books you may lend out, so everyone can remember who to return it to when they are done borrowing it.  Sunshine Vinyl has a huge selection of vinyls of all sizes and colors!!

5. Ceramic Reusable Containers:  It seems like I am constantly hearing about how bad it is to microwave plastic containers. Apparently ceramic is the new Tupperware.  As a working girl who brings her lunch everyday I would love to receive a few of the fun patterned ceramic containers to take my lunch to work.   I have also seen these containers sold individually at Marshall's and TJ Maxx. 

14 more shopping days!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Weekend Recap

     Well winter is certainly here.  It was quite a snowy weekend in Pittsburgh, but I never mind the snow around the holidays, and we didn't let it slow down our weekend plans. 

    Friday night I returned home from work to find a fabulously wrapped package from Veronica Foley Design. I was lucky enough to win a set of monogrammed stationary from a giveaway hosted by the lovely Miss Southern Prep.  Go and check out her blog, it is so cute, and she always introduces me to fun new brands and Etsy shops.   The stationary from Veronica Foley Design is gorgeous and I love that I now have some stationary with my new married  monogram.  She also has a ton of other beautiful stationary and cards you can personalize.  Make sure you check out her Etsy shop. 


     Look at this fun card she stuck in the package with my monogrammed stationary.  These are just too funny.  I want to purchase the whole card set for Christmas.  Have you watched the "What Does The Fox Say" video??    If you haven't seen it.  Watch it on YouTube ASAP.   You can also purchase a set of these cards through her Etsy shop ( See link above).   Ring-Ding-Ding- Ding-Dingeringeding.  


On Friday night it snowed and snowed.   DFH and I bundled up and walked to one of our favorite bar/ restaurants Tavern 1947.   We enjoyed some cocktails and apps and felt very lucky that we lived in the city and didn't need drive on the snowy roads. 

     Saturday morning I attended my Junior League's holiday luncheon at Hyde Park which is always a great time and gets me in the holiday spirit. We always do a gift or an ornament exchange and everyone dresses up in their favorite holiday attire.  ( Although this year I don't look very "Christmas-y") 

   Saturday Afternoon DFH, ALV and I headed over to the Handmade Arcade   This is an awesome event where vendors come and sell all their homemade wares.   It is the perfect place to find those unique gifts for your friends and family who have everything.   We even spotted the actress, Chloe Sevigny there who is shooting a movie in Pittsburgh. 

The view was incredible so we couldn't help but take a couple touristy pictures.

  I never get tired of the bridges or the views in Pittsburgh.

     On Saturday night we finally got our Christmas tree and spent the evening decorating the house. 

Oliver isn't sure how he feels about the tree yet.

We ended the weekend with a little more Christmas shopping and some holiday cocktails which in my opinion are the perfect combination.