tree cutting.

this year we started a few new traditions.  on thanksgiving morning we participated in a 5k turkey trot & the day after thanksgiving, we decided to go cut down our christmas tree.  both of which are total keepers.

it's been over three years since we've had a christmas tree in our house.  between two deployments and a long trip home in 2010, the timing was never there.  & in some instances, neither was the spirit.  but this year was different.  the holidays couldn't start soon enough. 

generally, we wouldn't get a tree this early, but since we travel home for a week over christmas, we decided we should get a full season out of this year's tree.  we went to a tree farm recommended by a friend and it was the perfect back drop for this family affair.  the owners live on property and not only grow trees, but are also a wildlife rescue.  they have fostered deer and owls and hawks.  not to mention, they also have horses, turkeys and dogs...oh my! 

upon arrival, they provided us with a sled and saw.  madeline decided to take me on the ride of my life through the forest, only we didn't have the momentum to go very far.  so we walked through rows and rows of trees, finally stumbling upon "the one."  it was perfect.  the sun's ray shown down, the pines started sparkling, the wind gently pushed us in the right direction as the birds chirped and congratulated us on our findings.  seriously, that's how we knew we had found it. 

we grabbed the saw and went to town.  we even had the pleasure of yelling timber as the tree fell.  after dragging the tree to the car and verifying it was critter free (we did not want a reenactment of a griswold's christmas), the tree was loaded on the car and brought to it's new home. 

it's now up, lighted and adorned with ornaments.  as of now, it's the only christmas decoration in the house, but it's doing a great job getting us into the holiday spirit & we're loving the daily reminder of the traditions we're starting with our little family.



what a weekend. 

tree cutting and bird watching.  wine tasting and picture taking.  animal feeding and animal petting.  christmas light shopping and tree decorating.  double features and burned popcorn.  left-overing and wine drinking. 

i love holiday weekends- especially when surrounded by family & friends.  they always exceed my expectations.

all pics taken using instagram.

thanksgiving wrap up.

alright lovelies, here is the best part of our thanksgiving holiday: the food!  generally, there's a lot of pressure to host the perfect meal and while i spent quite some time researching the yummiest of recipes, i managed to stay relatively stress-free about this feast.

many of the recipes were traditional staples that we have every year but the roasted brussel sprouts, stuffing and turkey were all experiments.  here is a look at my plate thanksgiving night (sans turkey and ambrosia salad).
1. cranberry relish  
2. candied yams
3. green bean casserole
4. buttermilk & roasted garlic mashed potatoes
5. lemony mushroom-and-pine-nut stuffing muffins
6. roasted brussel sprouts (i added apples and garlic as well)
7. (not shown) cider-glazed turkey with lager-gravy

everything was a huge hit, especially the turkey.  i'm telling you, next year, make this turkey recipe.  it's already on the menu for 2012.  
i also had a lot of fun setting the table.  i wanted casual elegance and with a mix of burlap, a green table runner, fine china, mason jars, some casual napkins and an understated centerpiece, i think the look was achieved.  & i was really happy with the outcome.
if it was up to me, i'd leave the table set like this forever.  but it'll be perfect until it lasts & by then we'll be on to another holiday.  i think everyone will agree it was a great thanksgiving.  and i hope yours was as equally wonderful!  


my sister's visit.

one of the best parts of thanksgiving was having family stay with us.  we love it.  and hopefully they do too.  it's not very often our families fly out this way to visit, so when we have family in town, we are stoked.  this morning was a bit bittersweet since we just said goodbye to a.'s parents, but my little sister madeline is still here celebrating the holiday.  and celebrate we will.
one of the challenges of our home is that it's small.  scratch that.  our home is perfect for the two of us, but when you add other people into the mix, the house get's crowded fast.  you see, we live in a two bedroom, two bath townhouse.  and we love it.  the spare bedroom operates mainly as an office and doubles as a guest room (gotta love a pull out couch) when necessary.  in this case, the guest bed was reserved for a.'s folks.  and i wasn't about to have my little sis live on the couch for a week.

a. and i have been talking about finishing the basement for some time. it's a daunting task, but with madeline coming to visit, we knew it needed to get done.  only, we didn't start early enough.  basically we framed two of the four walls before madeline arrived in town.  so we had to get creative.  and creative we were.
using found objects from around our house, a. and i crafted a cozy little space in a basement for madeline's stay.  we pulled out our old guest bed (it retired once we found the pull-out couch) and set that up over large blankets that served as rugs.  for a head board, we opted to use a large cut-out sign that we used for a friend's 30th.  we thinks it totally makes the room.
to create walls, we took old curtains and stapled them around the perimeters of the space.  the soft look actually turned out quite nice and while it didn't do much to muffle the sounds of running water, the heater or sump pump, it did keep our daunting piles o' crap hidden.
since madeline is working from our house next week, we also wanted to create a quiet work space for her to use.  so we pilfered an old table, lamp and plant to make her her very own "office."  all said and done, we are really proud of this little space.  & while you won't find this on hgtv (unless it's for a before picture), it really made our little house the perfect size for a group of five.
so there you have it.  the perfect make-shift room.  because nothing is too good for my sis.

side-note: we'll be continuing the basement remodel this weekend and next week.  we hope to have everything completed before christmas.



i am thankful for so many things and today, is the perfect reminder to stop, slow down, and reminisce all the good things in our life.  

today is a world different than last year's thanksgiving.  and tonight i'm blessed to not only be around family, but to have my love with us to celebrate the holidays.  last year's vast loneliness has been replaced by laughter and warmth and the large void i felt even though i was surrounded by people, was filled this year with soft glances, small kisses and bigs hugs. 

i have a hard time believing that in order to be happy you need to be thankful.  with so much goodness surrounding us each day, it's easy to take everything for granted.  and when you make time, like we're doing today, to reflect on all the gifts we have, it's hard not to be happy.  however, just because there's a lot you're thankful for, sometimes it's still hard to find happiness.  especially when you're missing that one special person who makes you happier than anyone else.  

being apart is hard, no matter who you are or why you have the distance between you.  and being apart during the holidays is that much more difficult.  trust me.  i know.  we've been there- twice.  so, while i'm overwhelmed with happiness and excited for the traditions we're creating and the time we're spending together, i'm also deeply thankful to each and every person making that difficult sacrifice this holiday season.  

thank you from the bottom of both our hearts, to every soldiers overseas and away from family.  thank you to the ones who tonight, are celebrating the last holiday with their families before they deploy as well.  and to those of you serving on the home front, thank you for letting go, staying strong and having faith.  we are extremely thankful for you as well.  without any of you or the sacrifices you're making, we wouldn't have the opportunities to find the happiness we seek.

happy thanksgiving. xxo

image source unknown



our weekend consisted of:
the first snowfall
a.'s parents coming to visit
saturday morning waffles in our well-traveled waffle iron
the beginnings of a basement remodel
and the framing of walls
not to mention, a scared puppy
a homemade advent calendar
a varsity making water polo rock star (goooo michaela!)
the makings of a thanksgiving table
the planning of a thanksgiving meal.
a vegetable barley soup/stew that unfortunately didn't win the hearts and minds of anyone but me
a loaf of pumpkin pull apart bread that saved the day
transplanted herbs ready to fend off winter
airborne-taking, kleenex-using, cold-fighting afternoons
dog walking
dinner with new friends and a to die-for pumpkin maple cheesecake (waiting on recipe)


drive-by truckers.

last night a. and i drove down to ithaca for an improptu concert-date night.  we arrived to the state theather, a smaller, ornate venue in the heart of ithaca to see the drive-by truckers.  we went with some friends who are huge fans, but until yesterday, a. and i had never heard of them.  that being said, other than a fun night out, we weren't sure what to expect. 
let's just say, our expectations were exceeded.  drive-by truckers put on a great show.  they didn't stop playing for the entire hour and a half and their rock-country vibe and music was fantastic.  if you like this genre and enjoy a good show, check them out when they come to your city (we actually commented that we enjoyed them more live than on youtube).
last night was the perfect break from our day-to-day routine.  seriously, how can you go wrong with great music and company.  it was the perfect date night.


tortilla soup.

it's soup weather.  it may be a bit warmer than normal (not that we're complaining) but the cool evening temperatures are perfect for a warm bowl of soup.  last night we made one of our favorites: tortilla soup, minus the chicken.  for "missing" a major component of the recipe, i thought it was excellent.  as did a.  and that's when you know a meatless-meal is a keeper.
chicken-less tortilla soup
serves 8-12

1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2-3 large carrots, sliced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
2 tsp cumin
1 tbs oregano (mexican variety preferred)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
6-8 cups vegetable stock (homemade preferred)
1/2 cup cilantro, diced
fresh lime juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

cheddar cheese (optional)
tortilla chips

in a large pot saute onions and garlic in olive oil.  add bell peppers, carrots and jalapeno.  saute until onions are translucent and bell peppers are soft.  add cumin, oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper.  pour in vegetable broth and crushed tomatoes.  cover the pot and bring to a boil.  

simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until flavors are combined.  add cilantro and lime juice to the pot and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  

once served in the bowls, garnish with 1/4 of a sliced avocado, shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips.  serve with a lime wedge for an extra citrusy kick.  

enjoy (it'll be hard not to)!



as always, the weekend goes so much faster than i would like.  as a surprise for my mom, a. and i decided to take her on a road trip.  to steer her away from our intentions, we told her we were spending the weekend in hershey, pa and gettysburg.  we hopped in the car friday afternoon and thanks to some serious traffic leaving our city, didn’t officially hit the road until close to 5pm.  originally we weren’t going to leave until saturday but with a work crisis coming to a head, i had to be in the office on monday.  boo.

as we drove into hershey via the freeway, the gps still read another 2 hours.  my mom was convinced i inputted the address incorrectly or the gps was just plain wrong.  as she pulled out her trusty iphone and mapped our location, we bought ourselves some time by telling her the hotel was closer to gettysburg than we thought.  once we reached gettysburg, our cover no longer worked. 

we broke the news that we were surprising her with a trip to dc to visit her best friend and my aunt.  yay!
some highlights of the trip: we spent saturday afternoon in georgetown and tried oysters at j. paul, went shopping at anthropologie and paper source (love!) and spent 45 minutes standing in line for georgetown cupcakes (we tried: coconut, chocolate birthday, chocolate 2, pumpkin and salted carmel…super scrumptious).  before the ride home on sunday we made our normal stop at trader joes and then went to ikea., for some basement remodel ideas.  we didn't have enough space in the car, but we got some great loot.

we had a great time and it was so nice to be together.  sure, it's a long trip but as always, it's worth it.  


my mom's in new york!!

my mama just arrived and i'm so excited.  it's been forever (about two years) since she's been out here and i can't wait to show her all my favorite spots around cny and spend long hours catching up!  i also have a few diy projects up my sleeve that i can't wait to do together.  

love you mom and we're so happy you're here! xxo

photo circa 2009


banana pumpkin pancakes.

generally, i avoid anything processed & anything that comes from a box.  specifically muffins, cookies & cake mixes.  i really try to eat well, locally and all-natural.  so naturally, i avoid preservatives whenever i can.  

but trader joes found my weakness.  enter pumpkin pancakes & waffle mix.
since we don't have a tj's anywhere near us and they don't ship their most-fabulous products, we rely on family, friends and road trips to dc to hold us over.  we load up on sauces and candies and salsas and two buck chuck. 

you see, i'm a sucker for all things pumpkin.  so when i saw the pumpkin pancake & waffle mix, i couldn't pass it up without giving it a try.  and try we did...over and over again.  to my surprise, the pancakes are awesome- for a box mix.  they're a fantastic blend of pumpkin & spice (although you can never have too much pumpkin) and really fluffy.  

over the weekend we tried them with bananas on top & pure maple syrup.  to. die. for.  the only thing i kept wishing for was that i didn't have to share with a.  bananas and pumpkin make quite the pair...i couldn't stop eating them!



we had a great weekend.  a full weekend.  & a weekend full of accomplishment, errands, laughs & friends.

saturday began with our first long training run.  the morning was beautiful.  like gorgeous.  and the run was great- we were so proud of ourselves for getting up and moving.  it was an amazing way to start the day.  after some errands, we met some of a.'s buddies for lunch at dinosaur bbq.  i recommend the fried green tomatoes and macaroni and cheese.  also, for the record- they have great beer.

then we headed over to another friends house for game night.  they made to-die-for vodka sauce and there was a huge assortment of yumminess to enjoy throughout the evening.  we played two new games: what's yours like, a fabulous game for a large group of people & scribblish, a hilarious mashup of telephone and pictionary.  
sunday largely consisted of cleaning house (my mom's coming to visit this week!!!) and getting ready for the work week.  we also managed to sneak in a bike ride with one of a.'s co-workers- and since the weather was absolutely perfect- we brought radley as well.  he loves mountain biking.  we had a ton of fun and thanks to the time change, also had an additional hour to enjoy this most beautiful weekend.  happy monday!

also...i HAVE to mention...a. soloed today.  as in flew a cessena 172 all by himself!  isn't that fabulous?!?  i'm totally a proud wifey.


dreaming of thanksgiving

i'm dreaming of centerpieces and yummy recipes.  place settings and fancy desserts.  i'm dreaming of minimal decorations and classic food.  romantic and rustic.  traditional and modern.  thanksgiving only comes but once a year, who says you can't have it all?

images via: turkey rouladestuffed mushroomsburlap table runnerrosemarymason jarspumpkin pie


pineapple carrot cilantro juice

juicing is a lot like making a soup.  it's a great way to clean out your fridge, marry flavors you'd never think to try, and are on most occasions, a light and healthy meal.

this pineapple carrot cilantro juice was exactly that.  and experiment gone well.  very, very well.  and i have to give a. some serious credit- it was all him.  he's officially the juice master.

pineapple carrot cilantro juice
serves ~3

1 whole pineapple; skin removed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of cilantro; rinsed very well
1 lime
3-4 tart apples (we used mcintosh)
6-8 whole carrots

wash and prep all ingredients according to your juicers instructions.  combine all ingredients into a juicer (again, be sure to follow the juicer's instructions) and add all juiced ingredients into a pitcher.  chill for an hour or until the flavors are combined.  enjoy cold.



i’m making the commitment right here & right now.  to each and every one of you.

a few posts ago i made the announcement that i was debating between a half and full marathon.  & after much thought and ample discussion, i settled on the full…for many reasons.
  • i want to do an ironman.  call me crazy (i know you are) but there’s something about rolling in after 140.6 miles that seriously appeals to me.  again, crazy.  that being said, running isn’t my strong suit so i need the practice and what a better way to train for some of the larger triathlons (i have to work my way to the iron) than have 26.2 miles under my belt.  it makes sense to me.
  • lately, a. and  i have had some serious discussions about our future- so hopefully in the very near future, long distance running won’t be in the cards.  that said, i need to start training now.  otherwise it could be a year before i’m running for something other than bottles and diapers.
  • it’s something i’ve always wanted to do.  sometimes i waiver, but looking back, it’s been on every.single.one of my annual bucket lists since college.  yet it’s the one thing i roll-over when i can’t find the time to do it all.  & considering my aforementioned points, it’s time to lady up and go for it.
so here i go.  training began on monday & i know i have a long and challenging path ahead of me.  i'm actually really excited and can't wait to give this a go.  run, walk or crawl...i'm crossing the finish line with my head held high.


out of the office.

today i received the very best out of office, ever.

I have been shrink-rayed to grasshopper size and have headed into the garden to investigate the tunneling system of the earthworms - there is something fishy going on there.  I expect to make the pond by Friday if I don't get caught and squished by an earthworm.  I will be unshrink-rayed by 8:30pm on Friday.  My eyesight will only return to normal the next day, so I'll reply to your messages over the weekend.


i love people with a sense of humor.  it makes for a great day. 

happy tuesday.

welcome november.

dear november
i'm excited for the promises you bring
& i have plenty in store for you this blustery month
i plan to enjoy your cool breezes and morning frosts
and of course, the last bit of color in the leaves

my word for this month is patience- as much will be required
i'm planning to get my life back on track since
the months that were september and october
were emotional and chaotic and while ever-so-wonderful
removed me from my routine

so i will require patience with myself and life
as everything will definitely begin to change
in a good and healthy way

this november
we're hosting our first thanksgiving dinner in a long time
& prepping the house for many family visits-
from my mom, sister and a.'s parents
there are plenty of challenges in a basement remodel
cooking dinner for four and
finding that work-life balance

& i have a few extra challenges of my own.
this month i plan to create at least four projects
this month we are committed to eating at home five days a week
this month i start training

so with the falling leaves and first snow flurries
i embrace you november
and look forward to the many wonderful
and exciting things you'll bring to us
and ask of me in return