Closing 2010

These were my resolutions or as I prefer to call then, goals for 2010.

1. Always topping my list - travel somewhere new!
YES! I traveled to Japan for 2 weeks in July 2010, visiting Tokyo, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima.

2. Try and manage my grocery lists better...I always end up throwing produce away and I hate that.
YES! In late summer, we began subscribing to a bi-weekly CSA organic produce delivery, which helped me not only manage my produce better, but helped me focus on eating more locally and seasonally.

3. Keep my car cleaner, I don't mind cleaning house but I loathe cleaning my car (the inside at least).
Eh...getting there. This might be a goal again in 2011...

4. Save more money. With all the end of year expenses I had owning a new house, my savings account has been pretty stagnant, and hasn't grown much. I'm hoping for it to increase once I get everything in order.
YES! I'm have definitely improved on keeping my checking account balance constant, which in turn has helped me refrain from constantly pulling from my savings account. Result: saving more!

5. Take up a new hobby (horseback riding, sewing, the possibilities are endless...)
I took a sewing class in November 2010, and am looking forward to a few cooking classes in 2011!

6. Try and visit my sister on study abroad
No, :( With planning my trip to Japan, it was just too expensive to get to both Japan and Australia.

7. Spend more time with family.
YES! And I plan on repeating this goal again and again! Family time is the best!

Salad Savvy: Roasted Portobello Mushroom and Blue Cheese Salad

In an effort to eat "greener," literally, one of my goals for 2011 is to eat more salads. I'm a carbs girl at heart; I gravitate toward pasta, potatoes, and bread over salads any day. The exception of course being when I'm at home and my mom makes her signature salad, which are always brimming with good stuff, pomegranate seeds, almonds, apples, and beyond.
So I'm going to start a new recurring post, entitled "Salad Savvy." For the days I take the time to make myself a healthy, gourmet lunch. Yesterday's lunch was straight from my new Martha Stewart Everyday cookbook, Roasted-Portobello Mushroom and Blue Cheese Salad. YUM!

Recap of 2010

A little recap of 2010. In 2010 I...
And looking ahead to 2011, things we have to look forward to...
  • our trip to New Orleans!
  • our engagement party
  • my little sister's college graduation
  • my bachelorette party!!
  • our fall 2011 wedding!
So many blessings and things to be thankful for in 2010 - what a great year!



It's official, we've jumped on the Showtime bandwagon, and joined the cult TV show that is Dexter. While I enjoy crime shows, I admit I am a huge scaredy cat, nervous nelly, whatever you want to call it. I am easily freaked out. But this show is entrancing and addicting, and the characters are very intriguing. Debra (Dexter's sister) is easily my favorite character). Two discs down, and I'm already awaiting the next disc to arrive in my mailbox.

Anyone else out there who has also fallen for Dexter?


Heater Love

With a Winter chill in the air - my cat is officially obsessed with the heater. Can you tell?

Engagement Photo Inspiration

We booked a photographer for our wedding!! I am so smitten with them and thrilled they had our date free. Since I'm a total list maker, being able to check to-do's off my wedding list is so exciting. As with my wedding excitement grows, combined with the luxury of being on Winter Break, I'm reading wedding blogs like it's my J.O.B.!

But of course before the wedding photos comes the engagement photos. I've got about a hundred links in my favorite tab on my web browser. Here's one of my faves, such a darling engagement session. Perfect for a holiday engagement!

Quote of the Week

"A multitude of small delights constitutes happiness."
-Charles Baudelaire


New Traditions

Christmas is all about celebrating family traditions, and I embraced a new tradition of my fiance's this year and surprised him by making pierogis as part of our Christmas dinner feast! Being his first Christmas away from his Michigan roots where his large Polish family resides, I felt it was important to keep up at least a few of his usual comforts of home. At his family Christmases, it's a tradition to serve Polish foods such as pierogis, kapusta, and kielbasa.

And just in case you're not familiar, a pierogi is a traditional meatless Polish dumpling of sorts. You can fill it with sweet or savory filling, in this case I used Martha Stewart's recipe for potato pierogis and cabbage pierogis. They are quite time consuming, but well worth the efforts as my fiance was extremely surprised and excited at their appearance at our Christmas dinner table. Thanks Martha!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a belated merry, merry Christmas! Our little Christmas was lovely, warm, and cozy as all Christmases should be. More details to follow - just wanted to bestow my Christmas wishes to all of my blog friends out there. Hope you had a joyful day with friends and family. :)

Pets + Holidays

Gotta love the holidays! My sister sent me this pic yesterday and I laughed out loud! While this is NOT my fat cat Jenga, my sweet little fattie could easily be this cat, guiltily caught all tangled in Christmas lights. She has been prowling around the Christmas tree nonstop since it arrived in our living room. It's hard to tell whether she's eager to tear open presents or take a bite out of the tree itself. The joys of pets around the holidays :)

Bridal Party

These are the cards I sent out, asking friends and family to be a part of my wedding. Aren't they adorable. Thanks a million to Invites By Jen on etsy. She did a fantastic job!

Quote of the Week

"How can we expect our children to know and experience the joy of giving unless we teach them that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving?"

~ James Cash Penney


Deck The Halls

Just 3 more days 'til Christmas! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! The fiance and I did dinner and some last minute mall shopping last night to pick up some gifts for my sisters. We retired back to our cozy house for some Modern Family on DVD and peppermint bark while I watched him tireless attempt to wrap their gifts with his splinted broken finger - quite a sight, let me tell you.

With one sister in tow, and the other arriving tomorrow night, our family festivities are just around the corner. This year, in addition to the fan faves - Scattergories and Catchphrase - I'm breaking out the big guns with Taboo. Woohoo, can't wait!

What are you looking forward to as Christmas nears?


Dinner Last Night: Ribollita

One of my fave meals while traveling through Italy - Ribollita, Italian bread soup. Aside from gathering the respective ingredients, this recipe was relatively easy to make, all you need is a little time. Plus, it's a great way to get a healthy dose of green veggies as it includes cabbage, kale, and broccolini.


Ice Skating Party

Doesn't this winter ice skating party look delightful? The crisp, chilly air, the click of skates on fresh ice, cozy mittens and knit caps covering cold ears. If only I had a pond nearby where I could host such a gathering...

What's your favorite kind of holiday party?


Have you ever heard of quince? This relative of the apple and pear is notorious for only being edible when cooked. I've recently seen this mysterious fruit dotting the holiday bakery scene around Seattle. Quince tarts, quince pies...all of which look remarkably apple-like and appetizing.

Anyone ever cooked with quince before? I'm up for a challenge. Consider me intrigued...

White Elephants

How did I forget to tell you about our white elephant party?! The weekend before this last, we did a white elephant exchange at my friends Christmas party. It was SOO much fun! My gift was priceless, I brought a plastic bird cage with a mechanical feathered bird that chirps aloud and spins at the press of a button - awesome, right? The other gifts ranged from whoopie cushions to an English teacup and saucer, to a Snuggie (the gift I got to take home!).

Our bird cage was stolen twice, and I secured the Snuggie by being the third and final steal. All in all - a great night. We should really do white elephant exchanges more often...

Winter Break

Today is the last day of school before break. The students have been itching to be done and really get into the holiday spirit since...well, pretty much the 1st of December! Looking forward to sleeping in next week, finishing my Christmas shopping, and indulging in a few holiday celebrations with friends, including the Nutcracker this weekend!

8 days left til Christmas!

Dinner Last Night: Orecchiette with Kale and Bacon

I've been busy the past few weeks and have neglected cooking, which I miss terribly as I've often been lunch-less at school. I finally took a much-needed detour to the grocery store and whipped up this fairly easy dish last night - Orecchiette with Kale and Bacon. Light, fresh, and really delicious!

Friends Gift Exchange

Last night was my friends gift exchange. This has been a tradition of ours for going on 5 years! It's always such a fun event and a great excuse for girlfriends to get together and do what we do best - talk! Plus it really puts you in the holiday spirit, as it's usually the first present we all get to open before Christmas.

To kick off this tradition every year, we all go out to a girls dinner during the November 3 courses for $30 Dine Around Seattle promotion and draw names. This year, my friend Vanessa hosted at her brand new condo downtown. We had dinner and drinks, followed by wine at Vanessa's while making graham cracker houses - our annual tradition. To cap off the night, we swapped our gifts. I got an adorable infinity scarf and two cute going-out tops.

While I was exhausted this morning after a night staying up late with the girls - it was worth it! Let the countdown to Christmas begin!!

Going Gray

I've decided to paint our bedroom. Now this poses a challenge when you live in a house that's already bold with color. When I bought this house last year, part of what drew me to the place was the color within. While I've always liked bold colors in theory, I didn't know if I'd ever have to guts to paint a wall such a statement color myself. But, as it turned out, I moved into a house already cloaked in deep reds and greens.

Initially I had thought we'd paint the bedroom with a cream or light tan color. Casual and cozy, right? I taped color swatches to the wall for a few weeks, but nothing looked just right. So instead in an effort to keep up with our unique house, we decided on a pale gray with blue and white accents. I haven't seen many gray bedrooms but I found some inspiring photos (see above) that give me hope!

Power Outage

I woke up this morning thinking, "Gosh it's cold today!" And then I went to switch on the light and whoops, no light. Translation = power outage. The winds have been rampant here in Western Washington, evergreen boughs are blowing all over the place, literally!

Luckily I have candles everywhere - which my fiance usually grumbles about but was quite thankful for today. (I made sure to remind him of this, btw). That combined with the iphone flashlight app had me back in business to maneuver around the house as I got ready for work.

Thankfully, our water heater is wonderfully large, and the water was still hot enough to take a shower. However, trying to style bangs without a hair dryer - well, that's another story. Needless to say I used bobby pins in abundance, which was semi-successful, at best. This prompted some interesting comments from my students including "You look SO different, I thought you were a sub!" from several of my style-savvy girls. Dang it!

Well turns out a tree fell on some power lines a few blocks away and thankfully power and heat are back on tonight (phew). And now I'm warm once again, curled up with my cat Jenga wearing cozy socks and basking in the warm glow of my Christmas tree. (insert contented sigh).

Quote of the Week

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
— Audrey Hepburn

Holiday Drinks

I feel like the holidays always brings out the best in people - and people tend to step it up a little once Thanksgiving and black Friday roll into town. Whether that's weather an extra splash of red or green to spice up a otherwise all-black wardrobe, or branching out from your everyday coffee order. I mean, seriously...peppermint, gingerbread, and eggnog lattes would really not be quite so exciting were they available 365-days a year.

Right now my holiday beverage du jour is a soy peppermint latte. What's yours?

Ornament Exchange

Last night was my college friends' 6th annual ornament exchange. It's always comforting to celebrate a repeated tradition, and this is something we've been doing every holiday season since we graduated. It's the perfect excuse to carve out some time in this busy Christmas season to celebrate and spend time together.

In case you're not familiar with an ornament exchange - here's the low down. Everyone selects and cleverly wraps an ornament. Next, the hostess number paper 1-however many people you have playing (10 in our case), and throws them in a hat. Participants draw numbers to see who goes first. Every good gift exchange involves a few "steals," just to keep people on their toes, and it definitely keeps things interesting. Since we had 10 people, our rule was you can steal twice instead of three times. I pulled #1 out of the hat - the best number because you get to pick first and LAST, which essentially means you get the pick of all the opened ornaments. Sweet!

We drank sparkling cider and white wine and nibbled on holiday goodies including homemade peppermint bark... yum! Don't you just love the holidays!

Christmas Wish List

1. Clarisonic skincare brush
3. Guesstures game
5. Gift certificate to Hipcooks cooking class

What's on your wish list this year?

Happy Friday

This weekend, I'm getting a much-needed haircut, and indulging in some holiday party fun! First, my Friends Holiday Party (formerly "Friends Thanksgiving," but we couldn't find a mutual date in November so we bumped it to December). I'm making mashed potatoes and I'm pretty psyched! There will also be a white elephant gift exchange, and I'm pretty stoked because I have the perfect gift - more details on that next week.

Sunday I'm doing Seattle's 5K Jingle Bell Run with some co-workers to benefit Arthritis research, and then headed to my sorority gal ornament exchange - it's our 6th year doing this tradition, I can't believe we've been out of college for 6 Christmases, that's crazy to me! Looking forward to celebrating some holiday traditions!

Are you doing anything festive this weekend?


We Go Together

Love these! Some of life's best pairings...Trix and silly rabbits...AND teen girls and vampire!

Jump for Joy!

I'm so excited, we have a date and a venue!!! We will be getting married next fall, in October 2011. A lovely little fall wedding! I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Now I can relax and enjoy the planning process...and start shopping for dresses (the fun part!). Thank you Mom & Dad for making this happen!


Quote of the Week

"To laugh often and much
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch
or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Going on a Venue Hunt

Wow, finding a wedding venue is not as easy job, let me tell you! That's what I've been up to the last few days - sending email requests, making phone calls, browsing web sites, and replying up a storm. We're currently waiting for an offer to come through on a specific date at a place we love! Keep your fingers crossed for me that it all works out!!


The Deathly Hallows

Last night I saw Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in IMAX with some friends. Man, it was intense!~ You forget this series was actually written for children/young adults. In case you're not familiar with the series - the content of this book (and movie) is incredibly dark. By Book 7, pretty much all hell has broken loose in the wizarding world!

Though the movie was 2-1/2 hours long, but definitely didn't feel it (and I'm an antsy movie theater-goer, so that's saying something). The movie was literally running from the first 5 minutes, I don't think there's been such an action packed HP film thus far. It makes me want to go back and reread the 7th book, so I can be prepared for Part 2 next year!!!


Love Notes

My sister bought me this cute CB2 mini chalkboard as an engagement gift. It's perfect for writing love notes to my fiancee. We've already been using it to write notes back and forth. Especially since we get up at different times in the morning for work, it's a fun way to say "I love you," before breakfast.


O Christmas Tree

I've always been a fan of the real Christmas tree. The lovely fresh piney scent needles, somehow it just looks more like Christmas to me. But, to save time and money, I went with the faux tree last year. But I'm loving this idea for a faux Christmas tree-stand - using an actual stump! Best of both worlds right?

Holiday Cheer

The holidays are here - as is the weekend, two of my favorite things! I'm excited for a fun-filled few days. Headed to sushi with the fiance tonight, football festivities tomorrow (it's the big Apple Cup rivalry game between University of Washington Huskies and our nemesis the Washington State Cougars). Go DAWGS! Sunday, I'm headed to see Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows in IMAX with my HP crew. Yes we are dorks, but these friends and I have seen ALL the movies together, so I'm so excited!!

What are you up to this weekend?

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Who says you need a real tree?
Someday, I want to try this bookish display in my house...