Friday, June 29, 2012

Roadtrip Recap: DC & OBX

I've been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately due to too much fun, I suppose! I got back last weekend from a week-long roadtrip to DC and the Outer Banks. The main reason for the trip was to see one of my beautiful friends get married in North Carolina. My husband and I decided to break up the trip a bit and spend a few days in DC. We had both never done the whole touristy thing, so in true american fashion we put on our walking shoes, charged up the camera battery and walked (what felt like a marathon) around The District. We hit up all the monuments, checked out a handful of museums, explored George Washington's estate, took a tour of the Capital building and ended the tourist extravaganza with a trip to Arlington National Cemetary. Whew! Here are a few photo highlights from our trip:

On the road!

Our lovely accomodations

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington Monument with the "Big Red One",
honoring the first division of the United States Army

WWII Memorial

my fav part of the trip :)

NH ~ Live Free or Die!

Mount Vernon ~ George Washington's BEAUTIFUL estate

Capital Building

Arlington National Cemetary

While we loved exploring the nation's capital, after a 9 hour drive and 3 and a half days on foot, we were ready for the BEACH! Another 5 hours on the road later, we finally arrived to our beautiful 5-bedroom house in the OBX! The remainder of the week was spent relishing in fun in the sun, beach, and booze glory, with lots of new friends. Those that know me know that anywhere there is a beach, I'll be happy. But what made this trip so special was being able to share in and celebrate the union of 2 people we absolutely adore! I met the bride, Janet, 5 years ago when I graduated college. I needed a roommate and all my college friends were still in the post-college job search process, so I reluctantly resorted to craigslist. Somehow roommate fate brought Janet and I together, and I knew right off the bat that we would become fast friends. I remember the day she came home from a carribean cruise and told me "I met the man I'm going to marry!"  I (and her future husband) may have thought she was crazy to make such a statement so soon, but once I met Jay, it was undeniable they were meant for each other. Although life has brought us to different states and I don't see Janet as often as I'd like, she is a one-of-a-kind friend and everyone who knows her can't help but love her. My husband also has a slight bromance with Jay, so its only natural that we both wouldn't miss their wedding for the world! Their wedding week was beyond perfect and totally "Janet and Jay". Here are some highlights from this leg of the trip:

Almost there!

Our house

Living Room

Our private dock

Welcome Bag

Beach, beers and good tunes :)

View from the Welcome BBQ hosted by the groom's parents

A little pool time before the wedding

Before the ceremony at Marshes Lighthouse
Manteo, NC

Here comes the bride!


Beautiful couple...
and have to point out the Reverend's bare feet :)

Reception at 108 Budleigh
Manteo, NC

Cocktail Hour
Fajita Bar ~ such a cute idea!

My husband and I :)

Aren't they the cutest?

What a stunning bride!

I have to say this was one of my favorite weddings I've ever been to. Laid back, amazing location, beautifully decorated and perfectly customized to the couple's personality.

Overall a fun and memorable roadtrip!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Spicy Grilled Shrimp over a Corn Relish

As much as I love cooking, there are some summer nights that the last thing I feel like doing is anything too time-consuming over a hot stove!  I'm sure others feel the same, so on nights like this, I have the perfect solution. I found this recipe from The Cottage Home blog and altered just a little.

3/4-1 lb. raw jumbo shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Juice of 2 limes

Corn Relish:
1 small bag frozen corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

1.) Mix all the "Shrimp" ingredients together and let marinate for 20 minutes. (Do not over-marinate, as the lime juice acid could start to cook the shrimp.)
2.) Next, combine the "Corn Relish" ingredients in a separate bowl. This can be made ahead of time if desired, but if not, let sit for at least 20 minutes to allow all the flavors to come together.
3.) Heat up the grill and place the marinated shrimp on skewers. Grill for approx. 3-4 minutes on each side.
4.) Meanwhile, prepare your rice of choice. We did plain brown rice (1/4 cup for 2 people).
5.) Remove grilled shrimp from skewers and you have a glorious summer meal!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Little Advice for the Graduates...

In honor of graduation season, I wanted to give  all the recent graduates some advice to carry with them as they navigate their way through post- highschool or college life. For those of you who grew up in the '90s, you hopefully remember this song by Baz Luhrman, "Always Wear Sunscreen". In my opinion, this is some of the most valuable, honest advice ever, and SO true. Listen up grads!

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked... You're not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind... the race is long, and in the end its only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what to do with your life... the most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't; maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't; maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary... whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either - your choices are half chance, so are everybody elses.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can... don't be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, its the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance... even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents, you'll never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography in lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


 Accept certain inalienable truths - prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you'll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.

Dont mess too much with your hair, or by the time its 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than its worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Such good advice! Am I right, or am I right? ;)

a little graduation nostalgia... my husband and I at our college commencement
Class of 2006. Gawwddd, I'm so old!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I Love (yellow) Lamp.

I've been on the search for the perfect yellow lamp to complete our guest bedroom for quite a while now. Everything I came across was too bright, too gold, too expensive.. you name it, I found something wrong with it. I finally gave up and decided I was going to solve this problem once and for all... I'd make my own! I did a little research on painting lamps (and other objects) and was happy to conclude that it actually seemed quite simple! Whether you're interested in a yellow lamp... or in the market for a different home decor object that you just cannot find in stores, here is some 'how-to-spray-paint' inspiration:

Step 1-
I purchased a simple, inexpensive lamp from Target in the shape I wanted.

 Step 2- 
I searched the aisles of Home Depot for the perfect shade of yellow spray paint. The staff were very helpful and let me try every shade until I made a decision! I settled on Painters' Touch Ultra Cover 2x spray paint in Warm Yellow. (Because the lamp base was made out of Resin, I had to make sure I chose a paint that worked with plastics. If trying this at home, make sure you know what material you will be painting!)

Step 3-
I covered anywhere I did not want painted with painter's tape we had around the house and was ready to paint!

Step 4-
I thoroughly shook the paint can for about 2 minutes and started spraying away, holding the can about 6 inches from the lamp base.  After the first coat, I let dry a few hours then did a 2nd coat. (Make sure you do this outside or in a well ventilated area!)  I brought inside after a few hours and let it finish drying overnight.

Step 5-
The next day after the lamp base was completely dry, I added the lampshade (also found at Target).

Total Cost of Project:
Lamp Base      $19.99
Lamp Shade    $16.99
Spray Paint       $3.87

Our guest room complete with the perfect yellow lamp ~ priceless!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza with Eggplant & Parmigiano

After a lovely coworker convinced me to watch Forks Over Knives (stay tuned for a post on this in the near future!), I have been making an effort to incorporate more meat-less meals into our diet. My goal is 2 every week. I originally thought this would be a challenge, but when you put some thought into it, I have discovered many of these meals can be quite delicious! I decided to make a Whole Wheat Pizza with Eggplant and Parmigiano. Sounds fancy, huh? Really, it was quite simple and could just be called Eggplant Pizza... whatever floats your boat. But, as I was saying... Eggplant is a great option for a meat-less meal. While it doesn't contain loads of protein, it is loaded with phytonutrients, antioxidants & dietary fiber. It also contains vitamins and minerals such as B, C and potassium and is a good source of folic acid. While I am generally a believer in incorporating protein into every dinner, whether plant-based or not, I do think it's ok to go without once in a while. And if protein is a concern for you, add some quinoa on the side or increase your intake during breakfast or lunch that day. Regardless of how you meet your protein needs, the most important thing to consider is an overall healthy diet and everything in moderation. (Disclaimer: I am NOT a professional. Consult a nutritionist before taking my word for it and please don't hold any nutritional information I share against me if you do not agree. :) )

What you will need:
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 2 tbsp. minced from the jar)
  • Your favorite pizza sauce (I used Casa Visco All Natural Italian Style Pizza Sauce, but if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make my own)
  • 1 cup shredded parmigiano
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • Your choice of whole wheat pizza dough (I used Tuscan Pizza Co's organic pizza dough from Market Basket, but if you like thin-crust I love the Rustic brand or you can make your own)
  • Cornmeal

What to do:

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.) Slice eggplant into 1/4-1/2" rounds.
3.) Place on baking sheet and bake 6-10 minutes (until slightly soft). Let cool.
4.) Meanwhile, sprinkle the cornmeal onto a pizza stone and roll the dough. (according to your thickness preference)
5.) Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake pizza crust for 5-10 minutes (depending on your crust crispy-ness preference)
6.) Meanwhile, slice eggplant into small strips or cubes.
7.) Remove crust from oven.
8.) Top with pizza sauce, garlic, basil and cheese.
9.) Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

VoilĂ !

The perfect accompaniment to a glass of shiraz & The Bachelorette!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wedding Planning 101

With both wedding season and my wedding anniversary upon us, I figured I would devote a blog post to one of my favorite things. Let me start by saying I LOVE weddings. Which is funny because I was never the type to dream about my wedding as a little girl. Or even as I got older. It wasn't until I got engaged (almost 3 years ago) and I started my own planning process that I truly fell in love. Some may call me crazy, but I loved everything about the experience... even when it got a bit stressful. I'll admit, its easy to get caught up in the petty details, and before you know it you're $10k over budget, or you're having a crying fit to your mother over the seating arrangements. But if you can keep yourself in check throughout the process, planning a wedding is such a fulfilling and exciting time!  I am in NO way a wedding expert, but I was overly satisfied with both my planning and day-of wedding experience, so I've put together a list of my top 5 recommendations to any current or future bride-to-be:

photo courtesy of Pinterest
1) YOUR WEDDING IS YOUR WEDDING. Everything about it should satisfy, first and foremost, you and your future hubby. There is bound to be some sort of family and/or friend drama (it happens to the best of us!), but I think what is most important to remember is ultimately you need to decide what makes you happy. Sure, there may be things you need to compromise on, but you must pick your battles!  If you envision your ceremony barefoot on the beach, but your parents have always dreamed of seeing their little girl walk down the aisle of a church, you need to ask yourself- will I regret if I choose the latter?  If not, make your parents' dream come true and this may give you a "free pass" on something else.  With that said, if you have your heart set on your bridesmaids wearing black, but your grandmother is beside herself because black is NOT for weddings, take a step back and think- Do I know black will look beautiful regardless of what my grandmother says? Will she eventually get over it? Is this what I truly want?  If the answers are yes, then go for it!  Those that love you unconditionally, will be there to support you on your special day regardless, and still love you after all is said and done.

photo courtesy of The Knot
2) THE MAGIC IS IN THE DETAILS. While I believe it is SO important not to get too caught up in the details, I also believe the details can be what make the wedding.  I love that weddings are so personalized now-a-days, and really anything goes. Be creative. What can you incorporate into your wedding day that perfectly reflect who you and your future hubby are as a couple (and/or individually).  Focusing on the details doesn't have to mean spending excessive amounts of money making sure there are flowers at the end of each church pew. I am talking about the fun, unique details. Whether it be the color pallet, the music, the ceremony readings, the centerpieces, a signature cocktail.. whatever.. choose things that reflect you as a couple. And be unique. Your guests may not notice if you had chair covers or not, but they will remember the personal touches. You want them to leave your wedding with the feeling that it was SO you.

photo courtesy of
3) CASH IS KING.  Set a budget and stick to it. Although it may be awkward, make a point to sit down and have a conversation with anyone who will be contributing to the wedding. Be realistic. Encourage everyone involved to be honest about what they are able to contribute. From there, set estimates for all the big items (venues, food, photographer, band/DJ, dress, etc. etc.) Next, brainstorm all the little things that many people forget (i.e. centerpieces, favors, hair/makeup, shoes, wedding party gifts)  Trust me, things will add up quickly! It is important to include as many things as possible in your budget so there are no surprises or financial stresses when you get down to the wire. I would also recommend adding a contingency line to the budget (whether it be $500, $1,000, $5,000.. there will ALWAYS be something unplanned that pops up and having some wiggle room in the budget will be appreciated later on.)  The budget can be very overwhelming, but don't get discouraged. Try to take a step back and look at the big picture. Maybe you are willing to sacrifice a limo for that gorgeous Vera Wang dress you've always dreamed of. Or maybe you'd rather have an open bar than splurge on the dress. Compromise is key. Maybe the wedding planning process is designed to prepare you for married life. ;)

photo courtesy of TARA Photography
cake by Let Them Eat Cake
photo courtesy of TARA Photography
flowers by Blooms & Heirlooms
4) COMMUNICATE.  You know what you're envisioning for your big day, but you can't expect anyone else to unless you relay this to them. This includes your family, wedding party, and last but not least vendors. Be sure to let your bridesmaids and MOH know the whats, wheres and whens of what they're responsible for. Also make sure that your vendors know and understand what you want for your day. A good vendor will be a good listener and will want to know your thoughts. If they don't seem interested in what you want, you might want to reconsider selecting them. I can honestly say that I loved every single one of the vendors we chose- from our photographer, to our florist, to our reception coordinator- and I think the relationships I made with my vendors throughout the process contributed to everything running smoothly the day of. Keep an open communication throughout and if everyone is on the same page, you're bound to be satisfied!  (Shout out to my fabulous vendors whom I'd highly recommend- TARA Photography, The Coastal House, DJ Kevin Cain, Let Them Eat Cake, Ogunquit Trolley, Madeline's Daughter, Aria Bridesmaids' Dresses, Blooms & Heirlooms, and especially Michaels for all my DIY needs!)

photo courtesy of Pinterest
 5) KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.  With everything on your plate, it is easy to get overwhelmed and a little cranky at times, but remember, nobody likes a bridezilla!  Although your wedding day is about you (and your fiance, of course), it is also a special time to share with friends and family. I have the fondest memories of my wedding experience. Some of the tasks may be daunting, but be sure to add a little fun into the mix. Follow bridesmaids dress shopping with drinks. Add a lunch date in when you are dragging your fiance to meet the DJ. Enjoy every minute! And when it comes to the day of, remind yourself that at this point everything is out of your control. Relax, be happy and cherish the day. When else will you have every single person you love together in one room celebrating you?  If the flower girl doesn't make it all the way down the aisle- who cares!  If the DJ announces the cake cutting before you did the parent dances- life goes on!  Everything may not be "perfect", but remember that this is your one and only wedding day and nothing should get in the way of the happiness, joy and love you feel.

Happy wedding season everyone! <3