1 Year Ago

A year ago today, a blizzard had descended upon the mid-Atlantic region. Snowfalls of up to (and beyond) 30-inches were forecasted. People were hunkering down in their homes, ready to tough it out for the long haul.

Oh, and also I was getting married.

Reflecting back on that day, a year later, aside from the fact that I’m still amazed that my wedding actually happened at all, what sticks out to me is basically this:

Of course I got married in a blizzard.

I mean, if it was going to be anyone, of course it was going to be me. I just had to be that little bit extra, don’t you know? Besides, with my penchant for overthinking, people-pleasing, and general anxiety, I think that throwing a blizzard at me on one of the already-most-stressful days of my relatively young life was probably a pretty smart choice. It really helped me put things in perspective.

After all, I got married in the midst of the biggest blizzard to hit the DC area in a century, and everything still turned out okay. And here we are, exactly one year later, still standing strong.

Not to brag, but I think Sean and I kind of crushed this whole first year of marriage thing. I’ve heard it said that the first year of marriage is the hardest, which — if true — must mean that he and I are in for a pretty smooth ride! Sure, we’ve had our verbal tussles, great moments and less great ones, and for the life of me I still don’t understand what is so hard about putting your dirty clothes IN the hamper instead of right next to it, but this past year has still, without a doubt, been the best one yet.

I can’t wait to see what this coming year — and then the fifty after that — bring as well. The adventure has still just begun!

My Lobster

Today is January 26th. Here are some facts about January 26th that I just learned right now from Wikipedia:

January 26th is Republic Day in India.

On January 26th, 1838, the state of Tennessee enacted the first probition law in the United States.

On January 26th, 1958, Ellen DeGeneres was born. (Happy birthday Ellen!)

On January 26th, 1998, President Clinton went on television and declared that he did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinksy.

On January 26th, 2004, a sperm whale exploded in Tainan, Taiwan.

And on January 26th, 2012, completely unrelated to all of the above facts (and thank goodness for that, especially with regard to that last one — yikes), I went on my first date with this studly guy right here:

 
Sean and I celebrated our 3-year anniversary on Saturday night — he surprised me with dinner reservations at Mokomandy, a super unique local restaurant that offers both Korean & Cajun cuisine! It was really sweet that Sean remembered me mentioning this place, because I’ve been wanting to try it for forever.

 
We feasted on a true smorgasbord of both Korean and Cajun/Creole foods — I can’t say that I ever thought I’d have jambalaya and bulgogi (or beignets and mochi cake) in the same meal, but somehow, it all worked! And their cocktails are seriously boss. I sipped on the Black Rose Fizz during dinner, which had blackberry & rosemary ice cubes (!!), gin, soda, and some other deliciousness. Good stuff, man. Gooooood stuff.

Aaaanyway, right! Anniversary. Heh.

Our time together thus far has been chock-full of exciting things — my brother Ben’s wedding, my niece Mia being born and turning one, starting my job at Yelp — and has been marked with amazing trips — Ireland, Cabo, and, of course, Harry Potter World (twice, actually!) — but it’s still kind of hard for me to believe that it’s been three entire years since Sean and I started dating. Believe me, I know how cliche it is to say so, but time really does fly!

  
Since my relationship is probably of very little interest to, um, every single person on the planet other than Sean and myself, I will attempt to spare you the mushiest and gushiest bits of the mushy gushy stuff. I will say, though, that I just feel very lucky to have someone who compliments me so well.

 
Sean is like a calming wind amidst my ocean of neuroses and emotion. He knows how to bring me back to reality when I’m going off the rails, and he keeps me grounded while still encouraging me to aim high. He has always been super supportive — of my job (he’s actually the one who pointed me towards Yelp back when I was job-searching!), my interests (he barely even complains when I plaster his face all over my blog, bahaha), and even my various hair colors. What can I say? He’s my lobster.

So, see? For anyone who might be skeptical of whether you can meet anyone of substance on OK Cupid, now you have at least one moderately successful relationship to use as an example, haha.

Okay, okay, I think that’s enough saccharine reading for your Monday morning. I hope you all had a fantastic weekend — as you can probably tell, I definitely did! My only regret is that it flew by too quickly, of course. This week is pretty much my last week of semi-sanity before Yelp’s Fit Club takes over my entire life (which, local friends, you should totally sign up for, by the way!) and so here’s to hoping I’m able to make the most of it!

Snapshots & Stitch Fixes

Happy Monday, friendos! I hope you all had wonderful weekends, the lot of you. Sean and I continued our 2-year anniversary celebration this past weekend, so it was pretty fab… though, as you can probably guess, involved a liiiiittle more foodstuffs than I probably should have indulged in. Thank goodness my weigh-ins are on Fridays now, eh? Hahaha.

Anyway, in the spirit of always being honest and transparent with you guys (plus the fact that I’m a weirdo and I love seeing what other people are eating), I figured I’d share a few snapshots of some of the things I’ve been eating recently. I promise it’s not all from dining out, too! I even have a couple of recipes to share with you guys this week, so there.

Untitled

Whipped up a glorious batch of my (and Katniss’s) favorite Lamb Stew with Dried Plums — although evidently the Polar Vortex made it so that there was no good lamb at the grocery store, so I used beef instead. Still delicious!

332A9583.jpg

Played a game of pantry roulette and ended up creating a hot steaming bowl of deliciousness that included farfalle pasta, bacon, peas, and amazing mushrooms with a super light cream sauce just to bind it together. I know you all probably read the word “cream” and your collective buttcheeks all tightened, but I promise that it was still a very diet-appropriate dish. Recipe to come soon!

Tuskies Collage

A iPhone pic collage of some of the amazingness that we experienced at Tuscarora Mill, where Sean took me for our anniversary dinnah. It’s in Leesburg and it is DEFINITELY worth the drive. You can peep my review on Yelp if you want deets about everything we ate (spoiler alert, it was a lot more than what is shown, hahaha), but that on the right there is a truffled goat cheese ravioli with mushrooms and pulled short ribs. I KNOW. I had never been so excited to eat leftovers the next day IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

332A9597.jpg

And, finally, last night my friend Reema came over and we whipped up a recipe from my homegirl Cassie’s AMAZING new cookbook: Beer & Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese. It really was just as delicious as it sounds, and even Sean got on board with the hidden butternut squash in the sauce. Mm-mmm, good. I’ll post more deets about the recipe (and Cassie’s cookbook!) soon!

So, lots of good eats (though in retrospect, I realize that there is a lot of pasta pictured. I promise I’ve been eating, like, vegetables and salads and stuff, too, hahahaha.) over the past few days, and even better ones to come!

So, in addition to all the deliciousness, time with friends, and anniversary celebration stuffs, I also had another fun addition to last week: I received my first Stitch Fix! Those of you who are already familiar with Stitch Fix are probably sick of hearing about it, and honestly, I kinda was too. But just before the holidays I had a chat with my friend Rachel about how much she was enjoying it, and I finally gave in and figured I’d give it a try. And when they hit it RIGHT OUTTA THE PARK with my very first box, I knew I had to share it with you all!

Untitled

So, for the uninitiated, Stich Fix is like a mail-order personal shopping service. You set up a style profile and you can do one-time or monthly recurring “Fixes” (same price either way, $20, which is applied to the cost of the clothing if you end up wanting to keep anything) and they send you five items that they think you’d like! I was skeptical as to how personalized it would really be, but they let you link to things like your Twitter, your Pinterest fashion board (if you have one), and I even put my blog address in the extra field at the bottom. And when I received my box, and it came with a personal note explaining all of the items, AND it also pointed to my love of polka dots which they would only have known if they really HAD checked out my Twitter and blog and whatnot, I knew this was pretty legit.

Untitled

Of course, it helped that the totally knocked it out of the park! I received a dress, two cardigans, a shirt, and an infinity scarf. Every single item is absolutely my style, and has details that I looooove. The dress has a light polka dot pattern and has that vintage-ish silhouette that I love, the blue cardi has polka dot detailing on the pockets and down the button closure area, the red cardigan has a light butterfly cut-out print and AWESOME buttons — each button is different! — and the infinity scarf is a bright, fun orange and THEY PUT A BIRD ON IT. Many birds, in fact.

The striped shirt was the only item where, before trying it on, I was kind of meh about, but once I did put it on, I LOVED it. It’s actually really flattering, incredibly soft, and super comfortable. Horizontal stripes! Who knew?!

I ended up feeling the most iffy about the red cardigan after trying everything on, just because from a distance there was nothing too special about it. But because Stitch Fix offers a 25% discount if you end up purchasing all five items, it was essentially free — the cardigan cost less than the amount I ended up saving from the discount! Plus, it ended up being way cute when styled with the dress instead of on its own — I ended up wearing the combo to Tuscarora Mill for our anniversary dinner!

Untitled

Speaking of pricing, you can set your price points for all the various categories of stuff they offer. So in that way, you can totally emphasize the clothing items that are most important to you. For example, for jewelry and accessories, which I don’t particularly care about, I put “As cheap as possible,” but for dresses and outerwear, I said I was comfortable with paying over $100 for those. Now, it just happened that every single item in my first box was between 28 and 48 dollars (yes, even the dress! I ended up paying just over $100 for all five items with the discount and the $20 styling fee I already paid going towards the total), so this was like a double-win in that arena.

ANYWAY. Enough talk about Stitch Fix and my latest obsession. I promise that this is not a paid promotion or a sponsored post or anything like that — they’re not paying me to say these things! (Though, as a disclaimer, the “Stitch Fix” hyperlink above is my referral link for the site.) I was just REALLY impressed with this service, especially because I was admittedly worried that I was too big to fit anything they offer. Which, now that I bring that up, is probably the only real problem with it, because the biggest size they offer on their style profile is 14… and, let’s be honest, that is deeeefinitely pushing it for me right now. So it bodes well for my continued weight loss efforts, but it was kind of a crapshoot whether I’d be able to fit everything they sent this time around. Thankfully it did all fit… but still. Broaden your sizing horizons and you will be utterly perfect, Stitch Fix!

OKAY. Sorry, sorry, enough chatter for now. Hope you’re all having utterly tolerable Mondays, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

Early Anniversary

Happy (or, well, whatever emotion it is you feel today) Monday, everybody! I hope you all had restful and relaxing weekends. I had a particularly great one! Friday night kicked off with an epic hangout with my good friend Lara, her friend (who is now also my friend, heh) Sabrina. In involved a delicious recipe for LASAGNA SOUP (it was amazing), some homemade ice cream with my new ice cream maker, and a glorious re-watching of Pitch Perfect, which is seriously so hilarious it actively hurts (aca-SCUSE ME?!).

20130107-095830.jpg

20130107-095525.jpg

20130107-095533.jpg

So, yeah. Pretty awesome weekend kickoff, if I say so myself. Saturday Sean took me out for a surprise mystery date. He’d been hinting all week that we were going somewhere Saturday night, but wouldn’t give me any hints or clues as to where. Weeeell, it turns out the sneaky guy is kind of amazing, because he took me back to Nostos, the fantastic Greek restaurant where we had our first date!

Untitled
Untitled
And UNLIKE on our first date, where I was on my very best behavior, this time I didn’t feel ashamed to take a zillion pictures, hehe.

We even ended up at the same table, though that was due entirely to coincidence and not to Sean’s planning skillz, hahaha. Our anniversary technically isn’t for another few weeks, so I was totally caught off guard. It turns out there was a very specific reason for the early celebration, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, FOOD!

Untitled
Untitled
Tzatziki and pita

Nostos offers both regular-sized entrees and a selection of mezze, or small plates. Being the food sharer that I am, of course I opted for the mezze! I did this on our first date, too, and was very pleasantly surprised to find out that Sean is A-OK with food sharing. That gave him a definite check in the “Pros” column that night, hee. Of course, had I KNOWN we were going to this place, I would have brought my REAL camera with me, and had actual, good photos to share. But I’m pretty sure that me leaving the DSLR at home was part of Sean’s plan all along, haha.

Untitled
An eggplant tomato dish

Untitled
Dolmades – rice and beef stuffed grape leaves

Untitled
Filet skewers (these were AMAZING)

Untitled
Yes, that is flaming cheese.

Untitled
Which naturally turned into ooey-gooey, melty, delicious cheese.

We got almost all different things than we got the last time we were here, so it was really nice to sample more of the menu. I kinda missed the octopus though, no kidding! Back when Sean set up our first date, I looked up Nostos on Yelp and saw that everyone recommended the grilled octopus. I asked Sean if we could get it, and he complied (oh, the willingness that we all have to do things we don’t want to do when we first start out dating someone, hahaha) but it turned out to be ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. If anyone in the area goes to Nostos, the things I absolutely, 100% recommend are the tzatziki, the flaming cheese, and the octopus.

Untitled
For dessert, we shared a creme caramel which was drenched in orange liquor sauce. Mmmm.

As if dinner wasn’t enough, Sean also had tickets to the Ari Hest show at the Barns at Wolf Trap, which is exactly what we did on our first date, too. So yeah, he recreated that entire evening, except this time there was far less nervousness and a lot more casual handholding. 😀

Untitled

If you like folksy, acoustic-y music, by the way, you totally need to give Ari Hest a listen. He’s like Joshua Radin (my loooove!) but a little bit deeper, a little more rhythm… and he is just the BEST performer. Seriously. I’d never heard of him before Sean took me to see him on our first date, and I’m usually not someone who likes to go to concerts of artists I don’t know. But I LOVED him. Right down my alley, and such an entertaining performer. My favorites songs are Dead End Driving, The Weight, and Business in America, if you need a place to start. <3 The weekend had a pretty anticlimactic ending, with the Redskins losing their playoff game to the Seattle Seahawks. (Yes, I watched the game, and yes, I actually paid attention to most of it. WHO AM I?!?) But the rest of it more than made up for the slightly melancholy ending. Are you an anniversary celebrator? I used to go a little bit overboard and insist that every relatively long length of time needed to be celebrated — 3 months, 6 months, first dates, first kiss, etc, etc. But I think I’m pretty good with the single annual thing now. I’m sure we’ll still be doing a little second celebration (probably just a gift exchange or something) on our actual day (January 26th), but this was really the perfect way to ring in a year with my love.

Okay, stopping the cheesiness here. Except, you know, I’ll never stop the cheese-y-ness. Especially the flaming kind.