Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

Tonight Dave and I leave for Massachusetts to spend the holidays with his family.  This will be my first Christmas away from my parents and sister.  I'm getting a little sad about that, but I know that I will have a wonderful time with his family!  I'm crossing my fingers for a white Christmas! :)

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Running Update

As I've stated in my previous post, I've decided to get back into running.  I got accepted into the Cherry Blossom 10 miler that takes place April 1, 2012.  So, I've got a few months to get myself in shape!  I had to start from the very beginning, which meant starting at 1 measly mile.  Since it's so dark and cold when I get home from work, I've been forced to run on the treadmill which is so monotonous to me.  Thank goodness for Bravo!  Last night I walked 1/2 a mile, ran 3 miles, walked 1/2 mile.  I know that doesn't seem like much, but it's an improvement from the 1 mile.  Dave has been such a great motivator; I don't think I could do this without him! 
Dave with an after run Christmas cookie!

It's so nice to be training for something again.  After playing sports my whole life and swimming competitively, I feel like there has been something missing....the excitement of competition!  I hope to keep up the running and pick up biking because I would LOVE to do a triathlon one of these days.  I'm so happy that I'm running again; I'm starting to  feel like me again!! :)


Monday, December 19, 2011

Tomato Soup With a KICK

This weekend, I decided to try out a new recipe for dinner.  I was in the mood for tomato soup so I decided to try out a recipe from one of my go-to chefs, Ina Garten.  This soup was full of flavor, with just the right amount of kick.  It wasn't difficult and was a big hit in our house!  Here is the link to the recipe

First I tossed the tomatoes with some olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper.
Tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper

Next, I placed them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.
Tomatoes on baking sheet

While the tomatoes were roasting, I chopped two yellow onions and put them in a large stockpot, along with 6 cloves of garlic.  I added olive oil, butter and some red pepper flakes.  I added a tad more red pepper flakes than the recipe called for to kick it up a notch!  I cooked these ingredients over medium heat for about 10 minutes so the onions could brown a little.
Onion, garlic, butter, olive oil and crushed red pepper

Next, I added the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock.  I didn't use as much basil as the recipe called for and it still turned out great!
Adding canned tomatoes, chicken broth, basil and thyme

Once the roasted tomatoes were done, I added them, along with any liquid on the baking sheet, to the stockpot.  I cooked this for about 40 minutes on a simmer.
Adding the roasted tomatoes

After 40 minutes, I took our immersion blender and decided to smooth out the soup.  I didn't want big chunks of tomato in the soup.  I probably used the immersion blender for about 20 seconds.
The FINISHED product!! YUMMMMY!!

The soup turned out fantastic.  We added a few baked pita chips on top, and voilĂ , a perfect winter soup!  I think tonight I will make grilled cheese to go along with it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

NYC Weekend

The tree at Rockefeller Center
Amazing Grimaldi's pizza
This past weekend Dave and I went to New York City.  I have been bugging Dave the past couple of years to go up to New York during the Christmas season to see all of the lights, the tree, and the store-front windows.  So Friday afternoon we took the bus up to New York!  Dave's aunt and uncle were so kind to let us stay with them for the weekend (they live in NJ, right outside of the city).  We had a wonderful time staying up late, drinking wine and talking with them Friday night.  They are one of the kindest couples I know and they always make me feel welcomed whenever I visit them.

Sarah and me at lunch
Saturday we went into the city and visited Times Square and then went to Bryant Park.  Bryant Park had tons of little shops surrounding the ice skating rink, so we walked into a few of them.  Then we took the subway to Brooklyn to visit my friend Sarah.  She is a good friend of mine from Texas, who is playing soccer for Long Island University.  She took us to this AMAZING pizza place called Grimaldi's Pizza.  We had a wonderful lunch and it was so great to catch up with her!

Later that afternoon Dave and I decided to visit the MET.  Dave was interested in seeing the Greeks and Romans and the Arms and Armors exhibits.  Dave thoroughly enjoyed the Greeks and Romans exhibit.  We had  a great time.  Dave even bought me a book about shoes!  What a great guy; he knows the way to my heart! :)

That night we looked at the beautiful store windows.  Bloomingdales' window with the penguins was definitely my favorite!  We made our way through the crowds to the tree at Rockefeller Center.  It was absolutely beautiful!  Then we headed back to Dave's aunt and uncle's house for a delicious steak dinner.  What a wonderful day it was!

Storefront window at Bloomingdales

Storefront window at Bloomingdales
Sunday we headed to SOHO so I could stop by C Wonder.  I picked up a couple of things, but my fuchsia quilted jacket was definitely my favorite!  The sleeves are actually long enough for my arms!  The ride home was great; no traffic at all!
My new pink jacket

Puppy dog Dave got for me at FAO Schwarz
It was such a fun weekend.  Every time I visit NYC I'm reminded how much I want to live there.  It's always been a dream of mine to live there.  I just don't think my mom would be too happy if we moved there...  For now I'm content in just visiting. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Move Over Elf Yourself, Portable North Pole Has Come to Town

This morning I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs, Little Pink Monster.  Natasha had a post about this website, Portable North Pole, where you can create a message from Santa.  It is a perfect idea for young kids.  I decided to create one for my husband, Dave, and I think it came out super cute!! :)  Take a look!

Now it's your turn!  Go create your own video!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Goal: To Get Into Running Again

A few years ago I had really gotten into running.  I would run about 4-6 days a week.  Running anywhere from 3-10 miles at a time.  I even ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, which was a huge accomplishment for me especially since it was during tax season.  I was happy with my accomplishments, happy with my body and overall, I just felt good.  I've decided to get back into running.  It's going to be hard at first, but I think if I stick to it, I am going to feel great!  To get my butt into gear I have already signed up for the 2012 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  Unfortunately, it's a lottery process, but I'm crossing my fingers that I get in!  Hopefully I can keep you up to date on my running accomplishments. 

Any runners in the DC area who belong to running groups and are looking for new members? I would love to join!  I just need to get into shape first!

My Friends Are My FAMILY

  As most people know, I grew up in Plano, TX.  It was a great place to grow up-wonderful schools, great athletic programs, and the BIGGEST plus of them all...AMAZING shopping!  I absolutely LOVED it there.  If I ever had to move back, I wouldn't be upset ! ;)  However, there were some downsides; the biggest one being that we were so far away from family.  Most of our family lived in New York, New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina.  For the most part, we were the ones who would make the trip to the east coast to visit family.  Occasionally, family would visit us, but never for the holidays.

   Luckily, we had really good friends - the Laughlins.  Craig and Vicki were great friends with my parents.  My sister and I were very good friends with their daughters, Katie and Sarah.  We spent Christmas with them almost every year; they were like family to us!  I still remember this like it was yesterday; Christmas of 2001 my mom decided to tell the Laughlins that we would be moving to Charleston, SC that summer.  Of all times to give this kind of news and she had to pick Christmas!!!  Was she crazy?!?!?!  Needless to say, that Christmas was not the happiest.  So summer of 2002 we said goodbye to our dearest of friends. 

Craig, Vicki, and Katie

   We've stayed connected through Facebook, email and a couple of visits back to Texas.  My dad probably see's the Laughlins the most since he often travels back to Dallas for business.  We invited them to my wedding and I assumed that they wouldn't be able to come because of the distance BUT they came!  (except for Sarah - she had a college soccer tournament - we sure did miss you!)  Don't get me wrong, I was so excited to see everyone that came to our wedding, but I was beyond elated when I saw the Laughlins.  They kept telling me that they wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Friday night when I saw them for the first time at the rehearsal dinner I was so happy!  I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to let out a few tears (tears of joy, of course), I just couldn't believe they were here!  It was so good to see them, just like old times.  We (Craig, Vicki, Mom, Allie and me) even danced to our favorite song from back in the day, "500 Miles" by The Proclaimers at the wedding! 

  The Laughlins are a part of our family and will always be.  They are one of the kindest, most loving families we know and I am so thankful that we met them in Plano.  Thank you for making my wedding day so special!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Yes, I Decorate My Office for Christmas

 I LOVE Christmas.  I constantly have Christmas music playing from November until January.  I decorate my home for Christmas, why not my office?  Today I put up some lights and brought in a little tree and some ornaments.  I mean, how can you not enjoy coming to work everyday when your office looks like this?! :)

Well Rested

The hubby with our Christmas tree
 After a CRAZY couple of months, I can finally say I feel well rested.  This four day weekend was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered!  I slept in, ran a couple times and just RELAXED.  Thursday afternoon we went to my co-worker, Ashley's, house for Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a fabulous time with her and her family.  We ate yummy food, drank good wine and even played "Dance Party 3".  We are so thankful she took us in for the holiday!

Great shot!
Friday was uneventful...I slept ALL day!  I'm not kidding you when I say that I slept ALL DAY on Friday.  I NEVER do this unless I'm really sick, but I think it was my body's way of telling me I need to take a "chill pill."  I woke up, put on a Christmas movie and then proceeded to fall asleep during the movie.  This cycle continued all day long.

Dave with our mistletoe
Saturday we decided to take advantage of the nice day and head to TopGolf!  It's one of our favorite activities.  It was one of the few times I played consistently well, so I was quite proud of myself. :)  We came home and put up our Christmas tree and some decorations!  I love this time of year!  I wish we were in our new place already so we wouldn't be consumed by boxes of wedding gifts! ;)

Sunday was spent organizing, cleaning, relaxing, running errands and writing thank you notes!

Even though most people would call my weekend "boring", I call it "exactly what I needed."

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend spent with family and friends!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I'm Thankful For

The Dunns
Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I would post about what I'm thankful for.  First of all, this Thanksgiving is supposed to be spent at my parents' house (we switch every year between mine and Dave's parents), but since we just got back from being in Charleston and then Jamaica, my mom told us we didn't need to make the drive down this year.  So originally it was going to be just Dave and me for Thanksgiving in our little apartment that is overflowing with gifts, but then my co-worker Ashley was so sweet to invite Dave and me to her house to spend Thanksgiving with her and her family.  I'm so happy because the thought of spending Thanksgiving without our families was getting me down, but now the Dunns have taken us in and I'm thrilled.  It's so nice to have friends who truly care about you and treat you as family.  Thanks Ashley and Vic!! :)

Now onto what I am thankful for (in no particular order) 

1.  Good health
3.  My amazing family who have always been there for me, no matter what
4.  My NEW family - I am truly blessed to have married into such a LOVING and CARING family
5.  My amazing friends who truly care about Dave and me.  I love you all
6.  Winnie
7.  The amazing life I lead - I am truly blessed
8.  All the opportunities I am faced with each day

I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving and take the time to think about what you are thankful for.

Mrs. O'Brien (I just like writing it :) )

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I'm Going on a Little Vacation

I'm leaving this afternoon for Charleston, SC.  It's only 4 days until my wedding, so today is my final post for a couple weeks!  I'm taking this time to enjoy my family, friends and my soon-to-be husband!  I'm sure I will have tons to write about when I get back from my honeymoon!  Love to all!


Friday, November 4, 2011

Spontaneous Date Night

Last night both Dave and I were home early from work.  I asked him if he wanted to go to happy hour since this is a rare occasion that we are both home at a decent time.  So we headed to a local bar down the street, got a couple of beers, played Golden Tee and some games on the counter-top touchscreen at the bar , and had some yummy appetizers.  What an unexpectedly wonderful evening we had together.  I just love him! :)

Bachelorette Weekend

Cute wine labels my sister had made for our wine to drink on the road!
The Group
I know I'm a little late on this post, but I've been a little busy.  A couple weeks ago was my bachelorette party!  I had the best time EVER with the greatest of friends!  All of my bridesmaids were able to make it, which made it even more special!  I had a shower in the morning thrown by my aunt, then in the afternoon we took a shuttle to a few wineries!  We had the coolest driver ever, David!  He sure did make our trip interesting!

At Doukenie Winery
Our first winery was Doukenie Winery.  We had a great time there, but we all decided we won't be returning there anytime soon! ;)

The Group at Notaviva
Next, we went to Breaux Vineyards.  We decided to skip the tasting and just buy some bottle of wines, baguettes, cheese and salami.  We sat at a table and just talked and everyone got to know each other!  When everyone starts Facebooking each other you know it's true friendship! :)  This was the highlight of my afternoon because everyone got along, we talked about anything and everything and new friendships were started.

 Our last winery of the day was Notaviva Vineyards.  We did a tasting here and the staff here was super nice.  This was the most enjoyable tasting of the afternoon.

Our driver, David, is a little lost
We headed home, drinking wine, listening to some jams, and laughing a lot!  What a wonderful afternoon that was!  Thank you, girls for an amazing afternoon!

That night we went out to dinner at Fire Works.  We enjoyed many laughs and pizza.  Then the ones who were left standing, headed to Rumors to finish off the night!  What an amazing day with amazing friends!  Thank you girls for a memorable weekend!! :)

Artists for an Afternoon

My Masterpiece! :)
Yesterday afternoon our tax department went to Brush N Blush.  I've talked about Brush N Blush in an earlier post.  I had the best time with all of my fellow co-workers.  We had an assortment of cheese and crackers, wine and beer.

It was awesome to see everyone out of their element!  We are all used to working with numbers on a day to day basis, so painting was something that didn't come natural to most of us.  However, I am super impressed with how everyone's paintings turned out!  We really did have some artists in our crowd!  I'm even impressed with how the Partners' paintings turned out; way to go Dave and Mike! 

Mmmmmmmm Goooooood!

Oh, and we had Georgetown cupcakes!! YUMMMMMMM!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I HEART Penguins

Courtesy of Wikipedia
Ever since reading Mr. Popper's Penguins in 3rd grade, I have been slightly obsessed with the tuxedo-like creatures.  I even tried to convince my parents to let me get one as a pet.  I figured we could drill holes in our freezer so he/she could breathe and I would stick an air freshener on him, since they are a tad smelly.  Why wouldn't that work?!?! :)  As you can guess, my parents said no.  So over the years, I've accumulated tons of penguin paraphernalia, including stuffed animals, jewelry, socks, pj's, slippers and a whole lot more!  Even though I am 27, I sleep with my penguin Pillow Pet, Petey.  He is so soft and is my much needed nighttime accessory. My friend even got me a mini penguin Pillow Pet for my honeymoon.  I named him Petey Jr. :)
Courtesy of FAO Schwartz

Today I stumbled across this cute penguin blouse from Anthropologie.  It's a cute pattern that I would ACTUALLY wear, unlike those tacky Christmas sweaters with penguins all over them! ;)  I'll put this on my wish list! 

Ask me any penguin question and I'm sure I'll know the answer!! :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lucy Cupcake

All of my friends and family know how BADLY I want I dog.  I think I tell Dave almost every single day! :)  The first step is we need to move to a dog friendly apartment.  Second step, I need to be around more to take care of the pup!  I can't put any of the responsibility on Dave. 
Look at that precious face!!

She's so tiny!
 Luckily I have had the chance to spend time with my sister's dog, Winnie, and my friend Lindsay's dog, Lucy Cupcake!  Dave and I got to watch Lucy one weekend and it was the best weekend EVER!  She is so tiny, so ADORABLE and so well-behaved!  We walked her around Clarendon and so many people stopped us to comment on how cute "our" dog was!  I wish I could take the credit for this dog!  Thanks Lindsay for allowing me to post pictures of precious Lucy Cupcake!! :)  Plus looking at pictures of Lucy can't help but make you smile!! :-)  For now, I will just live vicariously through Lindsay!

Adorable Lucy!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

18 Days to Go and I'm a Nervous Wreck

18 days until I get to marry the LOVE of my LIFE and I couldn't be happier.  I am truly the luckiest girl in the world to be marrying such a sweet, caring, loving and handsome man.  I had a wonderful weekend celebrating with my friends and family at my shower and bachelorette party (I'll post about that later).
How cute is he?!?!

However, most of my friends and family know that I am very shy, some even like to pick on me for it, which kind of hurts. So, the thought of walking down the aisle while everyone stares at me is completely terrifying.  I'm so ready to marry Dave and celebrate with our friends and family, but I just cannot get over this nervousness.  I keep waking up in the middle of the night with nightmares about the wedding; I sure hope this is normal!  I'm just ready to be husband and wife and want these nerves to disappear.

I guess I just need reassurance that this is completely normal...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Decor

So, I know I've been saying I was going to post about my pumpkin decorations for awhile now, but unfortunately one of my pumpkins bit the dust after I finished it.  I'm so mad that I didn't take a picture of it prior, but I was sure happy with the outcome.  I had spray-painted it silver and then with black fabric paint, I drew some dotted patterns.  My decorations aren't as great as I thought they would be, but still give our place the nice fall look.

I simply put a pumpkin on a cake stand with leaves that I bought from World Market.  I also put tea lights on the cake stand.  I also purchased leaf-shaped tea light holders from World Market...super cute!  I bought 2 little white pumpkins and put them on our entertainment center along with a pie pumpkin and a gourd.  On our books shelf I put a pumpkin that I spray-painted with chalkboard paint then I simply wrote "BOO" with chalk.  I also put 2 little pumpkins up there. I am hoping to pick up a fall wreath to put on our door within the next couple days!  I just love fall and love our place to show that! :)

Dave and I were on a mission last night to make our place look absolutely perfect for all of our guests this weekend!  We have already received so many wonderful wedding gifts but have limited space in our apartment so we've been trying to reorganize our things and go through stuff we don't need anymore.  I went to Target last night to pick up a couple things and since Dave's little cousins are coming tonight, I decided to make them each a cute Halloween basket with goodies.  I hope they like them! :)  I also bought all the essentials (sprinkles and orange icing) to make fabulous Halloween cookies!  Dave's cousins arrive tonight with Dave's mom and her sister.  Apparently Dave's cousins, Val and Mia, want to swim in our indoor pool, bake cookies and eat macaroni and cheese with me...girls after my own heart! :)  Such a fun weekend ahead...I'm beyond excited!! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Can Breathe Again

Tax deadline is OVER, I'm FINALLY feeling 100% and it's 25 days until I get married!  I have so much to be thankful for!  I am so excited for this upcoming weekend.  It's my bachelorette weekend and my aunt is throwing me a shower!  I cannot wait to see all my family and friends, especially my sister who I haven't seen since Christmas!  Just 3 more days of work this week, then let the fun commence!! :) 

I hope to post this week about my fall decorations.  I'm still putting on the finishing touches! ;)  Hope everyone has a terrific Tuesday!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder...

Sorry I've been absent for quite awhile.  I've been busy at work tackling a couple quickly approaching deadlines and also been very sick.  Being sick and swamped at work is not the best combination but I'm determined to push through it.  I have so many exciting things happening in the next couple weeks that I really need to start feeling like myself again!

Enough about that. Last week I made 2 loaves of apple bread which apparently were a huge hit! (I didn't try any)  Dave loved his loaf and I brought the other loaf into work and got so many compliments!  Click -->here <--for the recipe.  I am also hoping to finish my pumpkin project his week so hopefully I can post about that this week.  Hope everyone had a great weekend and for all of you lucky enough to have Columbus Day off, enjoy!  Oh and I forgot to mention, my cousin had a beautiful baby girl this morning named Sadie Shea.  I cannot wait to meet this precious baby girl! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Is Chivalry Dead?

So I got into the elevator tonight with boxes in both of my hands and there is just one gentleman in the elevator.  He could see I had my hands full yet he did not offer to ask what floor I was going to so he could push the button for me.  Maybe I was in the wrong thinking he should have asked?  Maybe I was in the wrong and I should have asked for him to push the button?  So when I got home, I thought to myself, is chivalry dead?  I was brought up in a house where you ALWAYS said please and thank you, where you ALWAYS personally write a thank you note for a gift you've received, where you ALWAYS hold the door for your elder, where you are ALWAYS just gosh darn polite!!  I understand that women want to be treated equally and boy am I a firm believer in that, but I still think it's nice when a guy holds the door open for a woman, when he lets her get off the elevator first.  I don't think there is anything wrong with that.  Luckily, I'm about to marry a guy who ALWAYS holds the door open for me, who walks on the side closest to the street, who ALWAYS lets me exit the elevator first.  Maybe it's just me.  Maybe it's just the way I was brought up.  But whatever it is, I appreciate chivalry and I sure hope it's not dying.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mini Apple Pies

I know it seems like we do this EVERY weekend, but since Saturday was our first crisp fall day, we decided we would venture out west to our FAVORITE orchard, Stribling Orchard.  We needed to replenish our stock of apples so we had a nice pick and also bought a 1/2 gallon of apple cider...yum!! :)  We also picked 2 pumpkins which I will have a post on later this week! (a little arts & crafts project).  After apple picking, we decided to stop by a winery which was located next to the orchard and just happened to be named, Chateau O'Brien!  We had a wonderful tasting.  We did the "Cellar Wine Tasting" which was a red wine tasting menu that featured 5 different wines.  After our tasting, which was very informative to say the least, we shared a glass of wine on the patio and just enjoyed each other's company.

That night I decided I would bake Dave a nice apple treat.  I've seen so many delicious apple recipes on Pinterest that I've wanted to try.  I decided to make these bite sized apple pies.  Dave seemed to LOVE them.  I didn't try them because I'm not a pie fan but I have to admit, they looked pretty darn cute.  They were very easy to make.  Hopefully I can try some more apple recipes later this week.  Hope everyone had a great weekend!