Friday, October 26, 2012

Boo!

 Halloween weekend is THIS WEEKEND! I am obviously very excited because I have dedicated a few posts to it! It is the time when everyone gets to get their creative juices flowing by decorating and dressing up!

A few of my favorite costumes have been over the last couple years. I'll give you an idea!

2008: while living abroad in Florence, IT for the semester. Italians think dressing up for halloween involves crazy scary masks and really spooky costumes. We showed them the more playful side! We have a pirate, a mouse, a witch, another pirate, and a school girl. Fun!
 2010: By far the BEST costume was being a Zombie for Charlottesville's Zombie Pub Crawl! We all put on crazy makeup and went as different things. Connor, Paul, & I were Decades Zombies. Connor was 70's, I was 80's and Paul was 90's. Bekkah (Left) went as zombie kitty, my sister and her husban went as a devil (original zombie) and Jesus, and our "sister" Karah went as a streaker!
 Serious Decades Zombies
The next night we went to a costume party at a friend's house, and I went as Alice while Era was the Cheshire Cat, Bekkah was the White Rabbit, & Sarah was the Queen of Hearts! That was really fun!

Connor & Paul were beefy QB's. So cute.
 
 2011: I went as Jersey Shore Girl. Poofy hair, stunner shades, fur, tacky leopard tunic, leggings, and crazy high heels made for an easy costume! Also included: LOTS of bronzer.

This year I made my costume for under $10 and it involved a bit of spray paint and 2 pieces of foam board. Can't wait to show you what I came up with! Connor, Bowser, & I will be coordinating.

Hope y'all have some spooky parties to attend, or can find a good reason to throw on a costume and celebrate! Happy Halloween weekend!

xoxo,


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What a great weekend!

 Connor & I really enjoyed our weekend, and got a lot of things done around the house while having a LOT of fun!

Thursday (which always feels like a weekend, if only!) we met for lunch at the new Fran's Filling Station in Uptown at 7th Street Market. I got a veggie burger that was HEAVENLY, and C got a chicken sandwich. Y'all should check it out!
It was quite cold last week so I made sure to take a picture of Bowser bundled up in his favorite sweater. Yes, I spent upwards of $30 on a sweater for my dog.
 On Friday, we were invited by a client of Connor's to dinner at Del Frisco's. It was AMAZING! We sampled some appetizers like Stone Crab claws, mixed fried seafood & veggies, and a flatbread. We then each ordered a massive steak and split the sides. There was spicy creamed corn (to die!), asparagus, and perfectly fried onion rings. I ordered the ribeye and it was PERFECT. It was such a treat, and we really enjoyed the company of the other 2 couples.

I also ran into my friend Mary at Del Frisco's, as they were celebrating one of their BFF's wedding the next day! It was so great seeing them all the night before!

Saturday morning we got up and did stuff around the house. Connor blew a zillion leaves around, and I decorated the house for Halloween! It is looking spooky!

Our friends met us over at our house, and we went to get pumpkins. We heard that Harris Teeter had a special, 2/$10, so we got them there! Not as fun as going to a patch but it definitely saved us some money to put towards our other decorations.

We then all got to work on our pumpkins. I found a template online for a Boston Terrier's face, and couldn't resist. I think it turned out pretty well, what do you think?
 The puppies enjoyed playing together, while we all played Cornhole on our finished boards (YES THEY ARE FINALLY DONE!!)
 That night, we headed over to SCarowinds! We had a great time getting scared. The corn mazes were pretty frightening, and the people walking around grabbing people ALWAYS gets me!
 We waited in line for AN HOUR to ride the Intimidator. I screamed THE WHOLE time!
 Didn't know what I was getting myself into!
Our neighbor Eric getting ready to ride!
 It was definitely a scary rollercoaster!

We then went through a few walking mazes. The first was Corn Stalkers. Ryan & Eric were shaking in their boots!
 We had so much fun! I hope you can make it to a haunted theme park sometime!

This week, we are working on finishing our decorations. We have a few more pumpkins to get ready...here's one in the first stage of black spraypaint! It turned out really well. Can't wait to show you what I'm going to do with it!

What are you all up to this weekend? Halloween parties? Weddings? I hope you enjoy it!

xoxo,

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ready for Halloween!

In case you were wondering, Halloween is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE holiday. The combination of the weather becoming manageable, pumpkins everywhere, decorations, and costumes (OMG) has led to this being the best month ever.  It also doesn't hurt that my parents both have their birthday in October.

Since we have been out of town every weekend it seems like since ever, we decided that this weekend and next we were going to stay in Charlotte. My sister and her husband are planning on visiting next weekend for our party so we will be able to decorate our house, clean, and carve pumpkins this weekend. Fun!

Last year, we had our friends Meg & Carver (married in Santa Barbara...recap here) over to carve pumpkins. I made a batch of pumpkin muffins and served apple cider to get us in the fall mood!

I made sure we saved the seeds...I made sweet ones and salty ones. Delicious!
My pumpkin last year was GOLD AND SPARKLY. Since I am a Magpie, attracted to/collector of shiny pretty things, I thought that painting my pumpkin would be awesome. It lasted way longer than the carved ones, which was a huge bonus!
Meg carved hers then sprayed it shiny black.
This is Connor's version of Bart Simpson....
And Carver's scary pumpkin! We thought spraying the top would seem like a spooky top hat. It looked awesome!  
I ended up stenciling BOO! on mine with black paint. Here they all are from last year. They turned out so great!  

We are also heading to SCarowinds on Saturday night with some friends. I love SCARY things and Connor loves Rollercoasters, so we're going to have so much fun! Here are some pictures from when we went last year with our friend Landon.

 The Afterburn...I SCREAMED the entire time

Illegally taking pictures in the corn maze. Those are THE SCARIEST things EVER!
 
Right? Yeah there's lots of that. 

I am so excited for this weekend, I can't even stand it! And then next weekend when my sister comes? Lordy it's going to be a great few weeks :)

Hope y'all enjoy this weekend, and can carve Pumpkins, get spooked, and have fun!

xoxo,

 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

DIY projects

In between being out of town for the past 1,343,192 weekends this year, I've been working on a few DIY projects. First off, this is what my friend (and new neighbor, yay!) Kristen and I did last night: Burlap holiday wreaths!

We pinned some inspiration and got to work. My inspiration was a messier wreath, like my life. I followed the steps from Under My Umbrella. It turned out fine and then I added some cobwebs and spiders in preparation of our Halloween party next weekend. Spooky, right?
Here we are with our finished products! Kristen did a neater wreath with fall flowers and greenery hot-glued on. It turned out so well!
.
Another project that I worked on was cleaning up all our silver. I saw on Pinterest that if you line your sink with aluminum foil, and add boiling water & baking soda, the foil will absorb the tarnish. I read it up on some science-y website here, and it seemed like it would work.
So I got out all my silver pieces, and got the sink ready & the water boiling.
I put one of the bowls in a small amount of water to see how it would work...
  
And you can see that it mostly did!
 I did several batches of water, and the tarnish mostly came off. There were a few bowls that it didn't work on, so I suspect they were the silver-plated ones. Have you all tried this? Any suggestions?

 Lastly, I worked on 2 crafts for my Sister & Brother-in-Law's 1 year anniversary. They just moved in to their new home, and I thought that some new "art" would be just the thing to give! Plus, you're supposed to give Paper gifts for the 1 year anniversary.

 I stopped by PaperSource one day, and browsed around thinking of ideas for a gift. I saw these fabulous 3D letters in a great font and thought it would be great to cover it with really chic paper. I found this awesome colorful chevron-esque paper from Italy that I ADORED. And on the back it was polka-dotted!

So first, I traced my letters (front & back) on the paper and cut it out carefully. I used an exact-o knife for the inner parts of the letters.

Then I flipped the paper over and cut out the lining of the letters using the polka dot paper.

I Mod Podged the paper onto the letters...I had to do a few coats to get it to stick but it worked really well!
Getting perfectly-sized strips for the inner parts of the letters was definitely the most time-consuming.
  
Finished product! I love how colorful and chic they turned out!
My sister & her husband (D & B) with their last name (R)! LOVE mongrams!

Another project I worked on for her was to do the "We Met, We Married, We Live" that is all over Pinterest. It was a very simple craft!

I went to AAA to pick up free maps and then to HomeGoods for a black 8x10 frame.

I then downloaded a cute font and typed out the Met Married Live and printed that out. I literally dug deep down on crafting with my Mom ages ago, and remembered that if you shade in pencil in the back of the paper then flip it over and trace over the letters it's like EASY CALLIGRAPHY. I have terribly inconsistent handwriting so this is a great trick!

Anyways, I wrote over the letters in a black Le Pen (my favorite new pens!) and then cut out hearts over where they met (Charlottesville), where they married (my parent's house in Charlottesville), and where they live (again, in downtown Charlottesville!!) I ended up using 2 maps, one from just Charlottesville and one of Virginia. I think it turned out really great! Plus, I LUCKILY had just enough paper to make it fit, so it coordinates with the letters!



What do y'all think? She said she loved them, and I can't wait to show y'all where she hangs them!

What crafts have you been working on recently?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinner Party, round 2

2 weeks ago, the night before my Surprise Bachelorette Weekend in Atlantic City, we hosted a Dinner Party for some of Connor's clients. One of the couples hosted the first round in August, which was SO fabulous, and we wanted to host next! Dinner parties are quite possibly my favorite things in the world...good food, wine, conversation, and revelry. This group was so great, it was such a fabulous evening!

Connor & I prepped all week, by cleaning & re-organizing. It was really good to have a scrubbed-clean house! When we don't have visitors/guests (i.e. since we've been traveling EVERY WEEKEND EVER), our house becomes a disaster zone. No more of that!

I made the short ribs the night before, since they're best next-day. I followed a few recipes, so here's what I did!

:: SHORT RIBS ::

Ingredients
  • 12 bone-in short ribs
  • Kosher Salt & fresh cracked Pepper
  • 6 pieces of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, small-diced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion (or 2 medium), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 cups Red Wine
  • 4 cups Beef stock
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Season each short rib generously with salt & pepper. In a large dutch oven, cook bacon/pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered (15 minutes). Remove bacon/pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Raise heat to high. There should be enough grease from the bacon/pancetta, but add olive oil in case you need more. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side (including ends). Remove ribs and set aside.

Turn heat to medium. Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the yummy bits. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
 
Add stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.


Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid.

If refrigerating, let the pot cool for a few hours before putting it in. When you want to serve, spoon off the hardened fat first, then throw the short ribs in the oven for an hour at 350 F to warm back up.

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy goat cheese polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

:: Goat Cheese Polenta ::

Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Ingredients
  • 2 cups Yellow Cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4-8 ounces Goat Cheese
Instructions

Bring 9 cups water to a boil.
Add cornmeal to the water in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, adding salt and extra tablespoons of water as needed.
When polenta is done, stir in butter and goat cheese. Check seasonings, and add salt to taste.


Anyways, we had a lot of fun shopping for supplies (i.e. beer & wine at Total Wine), and it gave me an excuse to clean out every shelf on our fridge and re-organize it. An organized fridge makes me happy.
Everyone came over between 7 & 8, and I served Boursin, cheese straws, rosemary & raisin crackers (FAVE), and mini pita bites from Trader Joe's, along with olives, grapes, and asian pears.

I had Dark 'n Stormy cocktails ready, and we enjoyed catching up, & sipping drinks and homemade beer from John (THANK YOU).

I started with plated Fall salads...Bibb lettuce, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and an apple cider vinaigrette (one part vinegar, 1.5 parts oil, a dollop of dijon mustard and a dollop of honey). Served with blue cheese crumbles on top

Our group!

My favorite place to be...
My sous chef, Connor, takes great pictures
Glorious Short Ribs
Bowser is never far from Momma
Christy & I
The girls, minus Meredith!
We then moved on to dinner. The short ribs and polenta were plenty of food. John & Christy also brought homemade olive bread (my fave), so that went along nicely!

For dessert, I served Pumpkin Bread Pudding (another combination of recipes) with TJ's vanilla ice cream. Sorry for not taking pictures, but we gobbled it right up!

We had the best time! Cleaning up wasn't that bad, I just washed and Connor dried. We make a great team!

Aftermath
Semi-clean?

We had so much fun. We can't wait for round 3!