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!