Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Thankful Weekend

Lash and I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend in Beaufort with my family.  While we are fortunate that Charleston is halfway between each of our families in Beaufort and Myrtle Beach, we decided that we'd do Thanksgiving with one and Christmas with the other.  This was our first major holiday as a married couple!

While my mom does the majority of the cooking, Luci and I love to help out in the kitchen.  This year the cooking was a lot of fun as we sang and danced the entire time to the Jersey Boys soundtrack and reminisced about our trip!!  

I've been spoiled seeing my sister for three weekends in a row, but just LOVE all the time we've had together lately.  I'm sorry we're breaking the trend this weekend, goose!

My mom set a beautiful and festive table,

and our dear cousins joined us for the feast.

We ate until we could seriously eat no more, and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing and enjoying each other's company.  We played cards, went on long walks, took a spin in the boat, the boys hunted, watched football, ate our first oysters of the season,

 and helped my parents put up their (huge) Christmas tree.

I can honestly say it was one of the most relaxing weekends I've had in a long time.  The four day break was much needed from the hustle and bustle of reality and a perfect time to regroup and remember what all is important. I just can't believe it is over already!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Big Apple

A few weeks ago, I traveled to New York for work, and planned the trip so that I could also stay in the city over the following weekend.  I've been fortunate to travel to NY once every quarter or so for work, but haven't been in the city in probably ten years so I'd been looking forward to this visit ever since we put it on the calendar!  I asked my mom and sister to fly up from South Carolina and DC to meet me for a girls weekend, but when my dad heard our plans, he wanted in on the fun too! 

After work Friday afternoon, my coworker and I took a train from White Plains into Grand Central Terminal. I was so thankful she was there to help me navigate public transportation....  This SC born and bred girl here has not had much experience with the metro or trains!! Everything was going smoothly until we got to Grand Central Terminal and my coworker and I parted our separate ways.  I could not hail a cab for the life of me.  Being that I was only about 8 blocks from our hotel, I just started walking... with my huge (and albeit hardly) rolling suitcase, heavy briefcase, and purse while trying to navigate the streets of NY in the dark with my smartphone.  I had a hard time reading the GPS on the phone and started walking the wrong direction, my rolling bag's straps were awkwardly low to the ground so I was hunched over trying to carry it, dodging people, oh, and my briefcase and purse straps were cutting into my shoulder so hard I thought I was about to start bleeding.   Thankfully, my dear father took sympathy on his teetering-on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown daughter and met me halfway to carry my luggage.  I cried tears of joy when we finally met up on the street.  Talk about being a fish out of water, haha!!

We were going to see Jersey Boys that night, and since we weren't sure what time everyone would be able to meet up, we decided we'd order a pizza in the room and have a glass of wine before the show.  When we first made those plans, I stuck my lip out a little bit as I wanted to go out and eat at one of NY's finest, but after my experience trying to get to the hotel, I was SO happy to kick my feet up and relax for a minute.

Jersey Boys was AMAZING.  I would absolutely recommend it to anyone going to a Broadway show, it was highly entertaining from start to finish... the music, set, plot, dancing... it was all incredible.  I couldn't believe how many songs I knew, and our entire family has been singing them since.  I would go see it again in a heartbeat.

Saturday, we spend the day, exploring the city, shopping, and walking around Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and down to Chelsea Market.  Chelsea Market, basically an enclosed urban food court with retail space and restaurants, was so cool.  

We let our feet and stomachs dictate our lunch plans, and as soon as we stumbled across the Lobster Place in the market, we all knew we had to stop.

Inside was some of the freshest looking seafood and sushi we had ever seen, and the four of us split a ridiculous amount of sushi that was out of this world.

That night we had dinner reservations at Alta in Greenwich Village.  I could not rave more about this quaint little tapas bar.   If you are looking for a spot with an intimate atmosphere and excellent food, go!!  

The four of us split 10 tapas including seared sea scallops, shrimp, pionnini mushroom risotto, rosemary crusted lamb tatiki, spaghetti pepperoncini, and braised beef short ribs (y'all, I was in foodie heaven), but the hands down, take the cake, home run was the crispy brussel sprouts.  You guys know I am a big, big fan of brussel sprouts and these were the best I have ever had in my life.  I am dying to recreate the dish, with caramelized with fuji apples, creme fraiche, and pistachios.  YUM!

We waddled out of there, somehow, with room for coffee and dessert and stopped in Magnolia Bakery for some sweet treats before tucking in.

Sunday, the day got away from us way too quickly but we did manage to squeeze in a walk on the Highline, the one mile linear parkway and greenway, and a delicious lunch at the Grey Dog before heading to LaGuardia.

While I certainly loved being in the city, what made the trip such a memory was the wonderful time I got to spend with my parents and sister.  I hate that Lash was unable to join us and we certainly missed him, though I loved the time we had together.  I've already told my dad I want this to be an annual trip... Fingers crossed!!


I've unintentionally taken almost a three week hiatus from blogging.  That's not to say that I haven't thought about blogging in this time, because often, its been top of mind... but with the holidays, traveling in and out for two weeks and three straight weekends, catching a cold, and decorating for Christmas, this dear ole space has taken quite the back seat.

I can tell you that I am very thankful for the recently passed Thanksgiving time off.  After all of the aforementioned craziness, I finally feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to end 2011 strong.

I do know that I owe you a recap of New York, Thanksgiving, what's been cooking, and random other tidbits and I'm hoping to start knocking those out this afternoon!  Come back and visit!

Friday, November 18, 2011

NY State of Mind

Ooops!  Eight days and no blogging from my end.  I have a good excuse though...

I've been busy in New York!!

I've been up here for work since Tuesday, having some great meetings, bonding with my teammates, and enjoying our brand new state -of- the- art office space. 

After work today, I'm venturing into the city for the weekend and meeting my family  My sister is taking the train up from DC, and parents have flown in from South Carolina for a fun filled weekend!  I can't wait!

Be back soon with updates and lots of pictures! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's Cooking

Sunday:  How Sweet Eats Warm Autumn Salad
via how sweet eats

After a weekend of little to no veggies, Sunday night I wanted nothing but.  We went meatless, and much to my great pleasure, this hit the spot... Even my butternut squash leery husband said, "I'm converted... I liked this, a lot." Bingo.  Jessica's original recipe calls for a feta cheese topping, but I used goat cheese with herbs and served with a toasted french loaf that provided a great textual contrast.  I've already recommended this to my family as a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish!  Earthy, homey, and very satisfying.

Monday: Quail in Wine and Steamed Veggies

We've been here, done this before.  It's a great recipe, but this week, it didn't hit the spot as much as I wanted it too.   I was cleaning out the freezer, and I think as I cooked it as an obligatory, use it or loss it. Blah.

Tuesday: Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

I was a single lady and wanted to try this recipe I'd pinned on pinterest. I had high expectations after a friend raved about it, and let me tell you, this did not disappoint!!  I followed Giada's recipe to a T and  the farmer's market homemade pasta was perfectly al dente, butternut squash and onions sweetly caramelized, goat cheese creamy (like a mac and cheese almost!), walnuts crunchy, and earthy undertones with the basil.  I LOVED this.  I'm making it again this Thursday night and I may add some crumbled bacon as well to please my carnivorous husband.

Wednesday: Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

This was my first crock pot recipe of the fall, and gosh, these things can be a life saver.  So easy and the soup was tasty!  I haven't had a taco/ tortilla soup in the longest time so this was a nice change for me... and really cheap to make.  I will keep this on the back burner on cold wintery days.  I halved the recipe but I did have to add more seasonings than the original.

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Phone Dump

This is a typical night in our house after Lash finishes studying- a nightcap game of SkipBo or Gin. Yes sometimes, it may seem like we are twenty-five going on eighty, but I swear we are a fun bunch!!

A few Sundays ago, we were at St. Michael's when Matthew Pridgen gave a snippet of his testimony.  Immediately after the service I came home and download his book off of Amazon, From Folly, chronicling the true story of his survival in the ocean following a failed suicide attempt.  I sat on the couch that evening for four hours and knocked out the whole thing.  It is an amazing story.

I feel like a very big girl in the kitchen following my splurge on Truffle Oil.  I think I stood in the aisle of the grocery store for five minutes debating whether or not to buy it, but the $4.00 off sale won me over in the end.  Now, what do I do with it!??

If you can't tell by the above two photos, I cannot get enough of OPI "You Don't Know Jacques."

I cleaned out my couponing binder earlier this week and threw out the expired ones.  Seriously I felt like I felt like just threw away time when I was doing this.  I have a love/ hate relationship with couponing- I love the savings, but hate the amount of time that has to go into it.  I don't care about missing the deal by not using the coupons, I'm just mad I spent so much time clipping them only to chuck them. 

Can you spot how many things are wrong with the picture below?  This is my kitchen after a palmetto bug pursuit this evening.  The cabinets are open, cutting boards fallen over, pictures broken, appliances out of place, but the bug- dead, thankfully- with my husband's shoes!  You better believe I screamed like a little girl for ten minutes while this was unfolding and I was home alone.

I'm reveling in the last week at home before several weeks of travel.  I can't wait to share my "What's Cooking" this week!  There have been some fun surprises and delicious meals.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 7, 2011


I feel like every Monday I sit and wonder where in the world the weekend went.
It always seems to go by too fast,
especially when you are spending it with your fabulous friends and family!

Concetta and I ventured to the Junior League Whale of a Sale Saturday.  At 7am, there was a line outside of 200 people waiting to get in.  When we arrived at 11 am, I was sure everything would have been picked over, but not so!  I found an adorable lamp and a side table for $10, and Concetta picked up a floor lamp and side lamp for $11 or so.  It was such a steal...  I'll be back next year for sure!
Our ten second self-timer photo opt did not work out too well, needless to say,
but look at our great finds!

Thoughtful Hanna had a few girlfriends over for a wonderful brunch Saturday, and it was so fun to be reunited and catch up in such a casual setting!!  As you can tell by the photo, their apartment is gorgeously decorated!  I love the exposed brick.

After a brief rest and meeting up with our men, we celebrated Anna and Chett at their wonderful engagement party.  Betsy has also posted some cute pictures of the affair- it was SO much fun and made me so excited for their upcoming festivities and wedding in March!
Lash and me
L to R: Me, Anna (the Bride!!), and Concetta
L to R: Bethany, Abby, Concetta, Hanna, and me

I don't know about you, but I am especially grateful daylight savings occured this weekend. After getting not enough sleep and more than enough red wine (kidding Mom!), I was more than happy to go to bed at 9:00 last night and sleep until 7:30 today. Whenever my college girlfriends and I get together, I am quickly reminded that I am not as young as I used to be!  Regardless, we had the best weekend and I was so sad to see our house guests leave yesterday afternoon. Come back again soon please!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What's Cooking

Ooops! I never got around to posting last week's "What's Cooking" post.   I had a lot of extra curricular activities last week so my menu was focused around quick and easy to pull together meals.

Spicy Shredded Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa
adapted from the Pioneer Woman and Skinny Taste

Yum, yum, yum, this was really, really delicious.  I roasted the pork afternoon Sunday afternoon, and the house smelled absolutely divine. I served with warm tortillas, avocado, a dallop of sour cream, splash of lime.  Favorite meal of the week, by far!!

Panko Chicken with Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
via IGE

No photo of the chicken, but if you've been reading the blog for a while, you know this ranch panko chicken often finds itself on our menu and kitchen table because it is so easy!!

Wasabi and Panko Crusted Chicken with Edamame
adapted from Cooking Light

This is a staple in our monthly menus, though we've always made it with pork. Harris Teeter is having a BOGO sale on chicken this week so the yard bird it was, and I'm pleased with this dish's versatility.  The wasabi, ginger, sherry and chicken broth sauce is excellent; I always double it so there is plenty to go around.  For the edamame, I just boiled, drained, and sauteed with 1 T soy sauce and 1 T Spicy World ginger.  A perfect weeknight meal.

What's cooking in your kitchen?

Sausage, Pinto Bean, and Spinach Dip

I have seen this dip floating around pinterest, and was intrigued by the ingredients and raved reviews it had received.  I whipped it up this weekend as a fun appetizer for our guests, and it was a HUGE hit.  It may seem weird to mix sausage, beans, and spinach together, but it comes together beautifully.   The beans give the dip a great texture and substance to balance out the heavier pork.  The spinach, white wine, and thyme are really flavorful undertones, and almost make the dip seem light... which I realize that the words sausage and light are not often used together in the same sentence.. but trust me, it's amazing!  I am 100% replacing the overused sausage, cream cheese, and rotel dip with this one.

Sausage, Pinto Bean, and Spinach Dip
Courtesy of Southern Living, January 2011

1 sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced (i left out)
1 1lb package hot ground pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 6oz package fresh baby spinach, coarsley chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Cooked diced onions, peppers, and sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.  Drain.  Stir in garlic and thyme, cook 1 minutes.  Stir in wine, cook 2 minutes or until liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Add cream cheese, and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes until the cream cheese is melted.  Stir in spinach and salt, and again stir constantly until the spinach is wilted.  Gently fold in beans.

Pour mixture in a 2 qt baking dish, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with tortilla chips, corn chip scoops, bell pepper strips, and pretzel rods.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Funk De Hump

I have been in a weird funk the past few days...  perhaps 'post-weekend' blues or maybe 'we're-back-in-the-routine' blues, or whatever.  It's not been my best week.

I am such a people pleaser, but its equally a fact of life is that you can't please everyone at all times. Unfortunately that lesson smacked me hard in the face this week, and it stings. 

Of course, we can do nothing but our best, but my best wasn't enough and time constraints, scheduling, and emotions all got in the way and warranted a major meltdown on my end.
By Wednesday, I looked {and felt} like I had been hit by a truck.... and not a Toyota, more like a freaking semi.

Finally, that afternoon I reached the turning point in my attitude.  Time truly does heal wounds and after taking a deep breath, you realize that the show must go on- whether as planned or on a different path.

Lash treated me to a date night at Al Di La Wednesday, and followed by an episode of Modern Family and a really good night's sleep, I have been ready to conquer the world.

For the first time all week, I feel rested, rejuvenated, and at peace.

I apologize for my silence, but I just haven't been myself.  I finally feel over the hump de funk, and eagerly am looking forward to the weekend with our house guests, brunch, and an engagement party.

A weekend with my girlfriends is exactly what I need right now!  Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Working on My Fitness

As found via Pinterest...

via pinterest

Coupled with a walk around our neighborhood, I loved this workout!