#BeThankfulChallenge

A lot of my friends are taking part in the #BeThankfulChallenge – see examples one, two and three.

Well, props to them.  They are blogging every day(ish) about things they are thankful for.  I can tell you right now that I will not blog every day in November.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful.  So I’ll do the daily #BeThankfulChallenge on Twitter.  And then once a week, if not more, I’ll give a recap here on the blog.

November 1 – I skipped the first.  Not so much skipped as I didn’t known about the challenge. If I were to go back in time, I’d pick my grandparents.  While none of them are with us anymore, they are amazing people.  Everytime I bake something and our kitchen fills with the warm smell of sweets, I like to think that my grandmother is looking down smiling.  And my passion in politics and community no doubt comes from my Nana and PopPop.

November 2 – Benjamin.  Every day I’m thankful for my loving husband.  He’s amazing.  He supports me in everything I do and pushes me to be the best I can be.  He values friends and family just like I do.  And when I’ve had a bad day, he makes me dinner or orders pizza.  He’s loving, spunky, passionate, and makes me smile every day.

November 3 – My mom.  She’s an amazing person and the rock of our family.  She’s always willing to do anything for family, even when its the last thing she wants to do.  She’s caring, compassionate and a great listener.  I’m so thankful for everything she’s done for me over the last 26 years.

November 4 – My dad.  (Have you caught on to a theme here?)  My father is one of the most hard-working, dedicated and compassionate people I know.  His work ethic and dedication to community is something that has definitely shaped the person I’ve become.  And, for better or worse, he made me the sarcastic, stubborn person I am today.

November 5 – My brother and sister.  These two really each deserve their own day, but I’m trying to keep family to a week.  These two have been great role models for me.  And because they were so much…wiser than me, they are always nice enough to share that wisdom with me.  I’m so thankful for everything they both have taught me and all the laughs we had growing up.

November 6 – My niece and nephew.  These two adorable redheads can do nothing but bring a smile to my face.  It’s amazing how many times I’ve said “it’s amazing how special ____ is until you see it through the eyes of a small child” during the past couple of years.  And the best part – when they get grumpy and start to scream and cry, I can give them back to my sister (love you Julie!!)

And I’ll give everyone a preview of tomorrow’s slection.

November 7 – Everyone else!  My family is too close to not include everyone here.  If you asked me to pick a favorite aunt/uncle, I wouldn’t be able to do it.  They are all special in their own way, and I’m extremely close to all of them.  I love being able to see them all when I’m home.  I’m lucky that most of us live so close and that seeing each other isn’t just reserved for holidays.  And the ones that don’t live close by, we see pretty often too.

What are you thankful for? Are you doing the #BeThankfulChallenge?

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The weekend of the Groupon…

Happy Sunday!  I hope everyone is enjoying the Sunday football game.  Ben and I are sitting watching the Bears/Packers game.  I think I’m rooting for the Packers, cause then at least my Eagles lost to the team that went on to the Super Bowl.

On Thursday, Ben and I realized that we had two LivingSocial coupons for The Madhatter that expired in early February.  We decided to use one Thursday night.  We ordered some of their happy hour specials (I stuck with Bud Light, whereas Ben enjoyed some Bud Light and some Jack and Diets).  We also ordered a TON of food:

  • goat cheese pizzette
  • fried calamari
  • Madhatter Classic – burger with applewood-smoked bacon and cheddar (me)
  • Ribeye Steak Sandwich- Caramelized onion, melted provolone, pesto aioli,
    and horseradish mayo (Ben)

The calamari was only so-so.  It came out kinda cold and a bit tough.  I’ve had it there before, and it was fantastic, so I’m going to just chalk it up on one bad dish.  My burger was really good, and Ben enjoyed his sandwich as well.

On Friday, Ben’s mom flew into town.  We had dinner at Kora – a great restaurant in Crystal City.  We each got a flight of wine (Riesling, Merlot and Chardonnay) and we all split the prosciutto and shrimp pizza and the BBQ short-ribs pizza.  Two VERY different flavors, but both were fantastic.

Saturday, we woke up and used a Groupon to go to the Newseum.  I’ve been before, but Ben and his mom had never been.  Being in PR, I’m really fascinated in how they show (1) how the media has changed through the years and (2) how media has portrayed various events in history.  I think they have a really well done video about media and 9-11.

Piece of the Berlin Wall from Newseum DCBerlin Wall at the Newseum


US Capitol from Newseum DC

U.S. Capitol from the Newseum deck

We then hopped in a cab and headed BACK to the Madhatter to use LivingSocial deal number two.  We watched the Duke game while enjoying dinner.  Again, we got the fried calamari (much better this time).  I got the same burger again – very good. We had the same waiter from Thursday, which was nice.  I wish I knew his name so I could give him a shout out, because he was great.

After dinner, Mrs. B and I walked from Dupont to Georgetown to use yet ANOTHER Groupon.  Last year, Ben bought his mom and I a massage from M3.  The Groupon was for a Swedish or a Sports massage.  We both went with the Swedish.  I would definitely recommend M3 to anyone looking for an affordable massage in D.C.

The spa is on the second and third level of a townhouse right on M street.  You go one flight of stairs and check in at a very calming, clean-looking lobby.  They offer water and tea to customers, and have lots of space to sit and wait.  They also sell some skincare products.  It wasn’t a brand I recognized.  My masseuse came and picked me up from the waiting area and took me to a small room on the third floor.  He brought out a Tupperware container that I could keep my clothes in, which I liked.  Overall, he did a great job with the massage.  At points, I thought he could have used a bit more lotion, but  think that’s just because I like to drown my skin in lotion.  When I asked for more pressure, he adjusted appropriately and went out of his way to make sure I was relaxed and enjoying my experience.

M3 Massage roomphoto credit

In case you’re curious, M3 generally charges $80 for an hour massage.  I think that’s a pretty good price, especially here in D.C.  I usually think an hour massage will be at least $100.

This morning, we woke up, had breakfast, and sat and chatted for a bit about wedding stuff.  The three of us then headed to the gym.  Today’s run wasn’t terrible when you look at time and distance.  However, it felt really tough.  Its crazy how much of running in mental.  When I’m having a great day, my runs tend to feel better than days when I’m frustrated.

But all in all, two and a half miles in 25 minutes isn’t bad (and that includes a two-minute warm-up and a two-minute cool down).  I then did 5-10 minutes of yoga and one set of arm weights.  We came back, showered, and sent Mrs. B on her way back to South Carolina.

So we had quite a busy weekend.  But when as was said and done, we used six Groupons/LivingSocial deals.  We were actually supposed to use a 7th today for lunch, but we ran out of time.

YAY for Groupons!

Weekend Update

This weekend, Ben’s brother and his wife we in town.  I hadn’t seen each other in a really long time, so it was great to just hang out.

They arrived Friday night, and we enjoyed some fancy beer, snacks and exchanged Christmas presents.  I got a cheese baking dish.  Additionally, they got us the Kodak Playsport video camera.  Its super small, about the size of a cell phone, and it has EXCELLENT quality.  We took a quick video and was about to put it on our 60 inch tv and the quality looked fantastic.  It also can record in HD.  And the best part – its waterproof!  They bought it so we can take it on our honeymoon and capture the whole trip!  Thanks Will & Debbie!!!

Kodak Playsport Camera

Saturday, we woke up and I made french toast casserole.  The recipe is below.  We then went and gave them the tour, showing the various monuments and hot spots around town.  We also showed them the collection of where we have lived during our time in D.C.  We had lunch at Good Stuff, which has quickly become our go-to place to take out of towners during the D.C. tour.  Afterwards, we hung out a bit before heading to Maggie’s improv show.  She did a great job – the girl is a natural at improv!  We came home, ordered wings and watched SNL before going to bed.

Now, I’m waiting for Ben to get home from a run so we can go to CCSP to watch the Eagles game with some friends.

French Toast Casserole

based on Planet Green recipe

  • Butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 loaf Challah bread
  • 3 cups skim milk (the recipe says only 2 cups is necessary if you aren’t letting it sit overnight, but I was)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn splenda (or regular sugar – I used splenda because we were out of sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 tbsp liquer of your choice (optional – I didn’t add, but that was because we didn’t have anything on hand)
  • 1/4 cup raisins or almonds (optional – I didn’t add, again because I didn’t have any on hand)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 – 2 tbsp butter
  1. Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter.
  2. Rip bread apart and arrange bread in two tightly-packed layers in the pan.  If you use raisins or almonds, you can add these to the bread mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and liqueur (if you are using) until well combined.  Pour mixture over bread and sprinkle with cinnamon. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
  5. Serve!

I don’t have any pictures, unfortunately, but it was really good.  I had some of the leftovers today for lunch, and it reheated quite well.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today’s blog posting is dedicated to a very special woman: my mom!

My mom (a haiku)
always there for me
even when my room’s a mess
makes awesome dinner
fantastic mommy
even better grandmother
showers us with love
thank you for always
being there and pushing me
to be the best

Blizzard False Alarm

Well, I wasn’t totally sure that I was going to make it back to D.C.  They predicted a huge snow storm to hit the east coast.  Well, it hit some of the east coast, but it didn’t cause nearly the hassle predicted. 

Both my mom and my sister were very concerned about the drive back to D.C.  Like didn’t want me to go concerned.  They spent a good portion of Christmas night trying to talk me into staying.  While staying would have resulted in me working from home on Monday (while my mom makes me breakfast and lunch), it also would have meant a long train ride and not getting back to D.C. until like 11:00 on Monday night.  Not ideal.

So the kid I was carpooling with and I left at 9:00 in the morning and we were prepared for the worst.  For the first hour, as we drove to Philly, we had some moderate snow.  Visibility was fine, but the snow was definitely falling around us.  From the moment we entered Pennsylvania until the moment we entered D.C., we didn’t see a single snowflake.  And once we got to D.C., it was extremely light flurries. 

After arriving home, Ben and I made wings (hot wings for him, honey bbq for me) and put away all our Christmas presents. I’m just sad there is no Eagles game to end the night!
 

Christmas at home

Nobody decorates for Christmas quite like a mom.  Its no nice to be home and see the house decorated for the holidays.



Our Christmas tree.  Totally in the wrong room of the house.  It’s been in our family room forever, but recently my mom decided to move it into the dining room
Ever since I was in the Nutcracker when I was in the 2nd grade, my mom has collected nutcrackers.  We used to have enough ornaments to fill a second tree.  One of the books in this display has my entire cast’s signature.  

Remember when I told you my mom had every piece of the Lenox Holly china.  To show I’m not exagerated, above is a picture of not one, but three small lamps that are part of the Holly china collection.  See, the collection expands beyond plates and dishes.  We also have a lovely china nativity collection.  When I was little I was afraid to go even NEAR this nativity set for fear that I would break a piece.

Cute little mini-town
I guess Ben should be lucky that I only decorated our apartment a little bit, and didn’t turn the whole thing into a Christmas wonderland :-)

Christmas Time!

Thursday night, Ben and I headed out to get what was to become my very first real Christmas tree!

Growing up, my family always had a fake tree.  So I’m super excited to have my very own, real Christmas tree!

Picking out the tree!

Me with the tree hanging out of Ben’s jeep
Our tree!

Well, we weren’t able to actually decorate the apartment until tonight.   So first we set everything out to prep tree decorating.

While watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we put the lights, beads and ornaments on the tree.  The lights are mostly white (warm white LED lights – we had to go to two different Targets to get enough) with a bit of red scattered around the tree.  Then we put the red beads draped around the tree with silver and red balls, clear and silver icicles, and silver snowflakes.  And of course, a red star at the top!

 We also decorated the rest of the apartment.

Christmas pillows for the couch

Vase with silver beads and sparkly flowers

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Mr. and Mrs. Awesome

So, this is my blog.  I’m allowed to brag a bit.  Especially when I have exciting stuff to brag about….the past couple of weeks have been pretty awesome for us.

In early October, Benjamin was promoted to a GS09.  The GS system is how the government ranks their employees.  Most people only jump one level, but with the classes, trainings and real experience Ben is getting, he was able to jump two levels.  I was super super excited and proud of my baby!

Then, about a week later, my manager put my review on my calendar.  She actually scheduled it for the morning we were leaving for Charleston.  The review went very very well, and I was promoted.  I moved from an “Associate Account Executive,”  to “Account Executive.”  My day-to-day won’t change much, but it allows for more opportunities to do things.

But just wait.  It gets better.  I was very confused when I found out Ben had been promoted to a GS09.  It kind of happened without fanfare – no review, no meeting.  It just kind of happened.  We this past week he finally had the review (although, with already knowing he received the promotion, we knew it would probably be a positive review).  Positive doesn’t describe it enough.  Ben hit it out of the ball park.  He received one of the best scores in his program and got a pretty good bonus.  I was such a proud wifey-to-be!

This week we went out to celebrate.  I don’t have pictures of our meal, but it was fantastic. But best of all, it  was great that our promotions went hand-in-hand, so we could celebrate together!

Labor Day!

To celebrate Labor Day, Ben and I traveled home for the long weekend.  We left Friday night (got in about midnight) and got back this evening.

Saturday we woke up and went for a run on the boardwalk.  Ok, so mine was more of a walk/run than a solid run.  But whatever.  We went from my house to Albany ave, and then ran interval sprints back.  It was just under 4 miles.  So at the end of the day, it was still a good work out.

We spent the night having a fabulous mommy-cooked dinner, playing cards and picking out wedding invitations.  Maybe.  We still have some samples coming in the mail, and the ones we picked were a little pricier than what we originally wanted, but they are really nice.  We have a few details to work out first, but if we got the ones we picked out Saturday night, I would be a very happy bride.

Sunday, Ben and I got up and went to the beach for a bit.  Then we headed over to my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a wonderful celebration – it was my niece Shannon’s birthday (she’s FOUR!!!) and my cousin was home from California with her newborn, Delia.  Delia is such an adorable, well -behaved baby.  I’m so glad I got to meet the  baby!

Me and the birthday girl!!

Today, we woke up and headed to the outlets in Atlantic City.  I got some great tops and a skirt that I can wear to work.  Ben got some clothes too.  Very successful shopping trip on all fronts. 

How was your Labor Day?