Friday, December 26, 2014

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

About a month ago, my fiance had surgery on his ACL. It's something that through us completely off schedule for the end of the year, but you do what you have to do. Anyway, we were pretty much confined to our apartment for about four days after the surgery, as there was no way he could go down the three flights of stairs. So, it was up to me to prepare something for us while we stayed in, and what would be more perfect than homemade chicken noodle soup (source here)! Read on for how I made it.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, small-diced
4 carrots, peeled and small-diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 can (15 oz) of cream of chicken soup
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
2 cups wide egg noodles

1. In a large pot over medium, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables soften, which is between 6 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the stock, and the cream of chicken soup (my secret ingredient so the broth isn't too watery) and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the chicken and noodles, and simmer until the noodles are cooked, about 10 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

Sweater: BCBG Max Azria
Dress: Bailey 44
Boots: Lucky Brand
Belt: Alfani

I haven't been putting much effort into my outfits that I have been wearing to work recently. The holidays are such a busy time of year for us (like in just about every other industry), and most days I can't muster up much more energy than putting my hair up, pulling a sweater and jeans. However, now that Christmas is just days away, things are finally winding down and I had some time to do my hair, make-up, and pick out a cute outfit, too!

All of these pieces are things that I had had forever, but I just can't bare to part with! They are all so comfortable and broken in, but look a lot more polished than the turtlenecks and skinny jeans that I have made my unofficial winter warddrobe.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A week in Instagram

I love going on Instagram during the holiday season - I love seeing how everyone captures their city and their homes decorated for all the holidays, plus all of the lights and color! Here's what I've been up to the last couple of week on Instagram.

1. My fiance being a good sport and posing with the Target dog.

2. Celebrating my BFF's 24th birthday in Dupont Circle with the BEST martinis at Russian House.

3. From my boss, an advent calendar!

4. There's nothing like fresh cranberry relish.

5. My new placemats from Kate Spade! They are so festive and I love the glitter, of course.

6. The Christmas shop in Macy's in NYC.

7. Trying Ralph's Coffee, Ralph Lauren's first coffee shop.

8. The perfect nightcap, a caramel apple martini.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Holiday Theater

Dress: Kate Spade
Jacket: Anne Klein
Belt: Target
Tights: Betsy Johnson
Shoes: Coach

The first week of December (yup, I'll admit to being crazy behind on blogging), I went with my mom and aunt to see the Donny and Marie Christmas show at the National Theater in DC. To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with either of them, but my mom was convinced I would love the show, and she was right! I had the absolute best time. They did a mix of holiday songs, songs from musicals they had performed in, and they showed clips from when they used to be on television. It was a great way to get into the holiday spirit!

For the occasion, I wanted to get dressed up and look festive, but I did not want to wear traditional red and green, or red and black. So, I chose this neon pink Kate Spade dress that is much more me! To make it a little more appropriate for the cold winter weather, I wore it with thick tights, a little jacket, and of course a heavy wool coat on top for walking to the theater. Even though it was raining, I decided to wear heels, but pulled my hair back so I wouldn't have to deal with frizzy hair. 
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pumpkin Dream Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Decadent. If that's one word I would use to describe these cupcakes, that would be it. I pinned this recipe several years ago, and I finally decided to try it out a couple of weeks ago when I had a major sweet tooth. Although the recipe makes a 3-tier cake, I didn't have anything to store a cake like that in, so I went with the cupcakes! Here's how to make your own (and trust me, you're going to want to right away!)

For the Cake:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

For the Icing
12 oz (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line cupcake tins with liners and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl/stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla, pumpkin and vegetable oil. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk.
4. Fill the cupcakes liners about 2/3 of the way full, and bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. For the frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Finally, add the  confectioners' sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Ice your cupcakes with either a pastry bag or knife, and enjoy immediately!
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cranberry Orange Relish

You know, I had every intention of sharing this recipe for cranberry orange relish before Thanksgiving, for timeliness. However, with the craziness of my clients because it's the holiday season, and the fact that my fiance's ACL surgery was just two days before Thanksgiving, it just did not happen. With that being said, I think this is a great dish for Christmas! Plus, if you're traveling, it's an easy dish to make ahead and just pack in a cooler to-go.

1 3/4 cups orange juice
1 cup of sugar
1 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
whole orange peel, in a strip
12 ounces of fresh cranberries

1. Combine all ingredients except for cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. 

2. Add cranberries to syrup, and cook over medium heat until berries burst, about 6 minutes. Cool, and transfer to a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

101 in 1001: November 2014

While not much more productive than last month, I feel like I tackled a couple of the more difficult items on my list. Hopefully with the holiday season and some more time off this month, I'll be able to accomplish more than usual. Seriously, who am I kidding. Well, I guess we'll see what happens!

27. Get a credit card.
I've had a credit card since I turned 16, but it was a student card meaning it didn't have a high limit, and it was still linked to my parents account so I never used it. With the help of my fiance, this month I sorted through all the offers that I have been receiving for months, and chose one that I think has the best benefits. Check!

55. Finish paying off my student loans
I certainly didn't think this would be possible so soon, but by paying nearly double or triple the minimum required payment, putting every extra penny toward my loan, and a generous donation from my Grandma who recently passed away, I have finished paying off my student loan. I feel so incredibly fortunate that this huge worry has now been taken off my plate (and I'll be able to start saving a little, too!)

76. Contribute dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Half done! For this Thanksgiving, I contributed my cranberry orange relish, the receipe for which I'll be sharing on my blog soon!

89. Convince my fiance to get a passport.
We know that we're officially going to St. Marteen, so I filled out the paper work for him, took him to get his photo taken, and helped him set up an appointment at the post office to turn in everything. We should be receiving it back in about eight weeks!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Midnight Cami and Artsy

It feels like I haven't done my nails in forever! Every time I have sat down to paint them, I felt like they would be chipped and messed up within a couple of days, and just didn't want to bother with the maintenance.

Last weekend though, I was shopping at Ulta, and I saw this sparkly blue Revlon polish, "Artsy." I can never resist a glittery polish, and dark blue is one of my favorite non-traditional colors. Well, immediately after purchasing it, I knew I just had to use it right away. This time, I layered it over a coat of Essie's "Midnight Cami." Together, I think the pairing makes for a unique holiday manicure.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Warmth

Vest: Eileen Fisher
Shirt: Lauren Ralph Lauren
Pants: J. Crew
Shoes: Lucky Brand
Earrings: Charter Club

It feels like the winter weather kind of came out of nowhere this year. The past couple of weeks were pretty mild, and most days were  in the mid-50s. Unfortunately, the cold front came through this weekend, and the harsh, bitter cold days of winter are here. So, when I was getting dressed to go out in DC for a friends birthday this weekend, I was really conflicted as to what to wear.

Normally, I would probably wear a cute silk blouse, dark jeans, and heels. However, I knew I would have to walk about a mile and a half from the metro to the restaurant, and who knows where else. There was no way I was getting all dolled up, so I went for comfort and warmth (you know you're getting old when...). This puffer vest has been a staple in my winter wardrobe since I purchased it last year, and you can never go wrong with classic riding boots and a chambray shirt.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

I Feel Pretty

Dress: Kate Spade
Cardigan: Kate Spade
Shoes: Coach
Necklace: Vintage

I am embarrassed to admit that I had this dress for more than a year before I ever wore it. Now, this isn't because I forgot about it or anything like that, no, I noticed this dress sadly hanging in my closet at least once a week. But when I got it last November, it was already far to chilly to wear this how I wanted to (with bare legs), and every other time just didn't seem right for some reason.

Anyway, so after more than a year, it felt like just the right time. Once I put this dress on and looked in the mirror, I felt so good! Just like with most Kate Spade items, this dress hugs my body in all of the right places, and has such a good personality. I love the square neckline, the fuller skirt, and of course, the fun and colorful print.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A week in Instagram

Whew! The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. I've been spending a lot of time in the car travelling to spend time with my family and friends, but it's all worth it. 

1. Checking out the local creamery with my fiance. He had a peanut butter chocolate milkshake, and I had dutch apple ice cream, which was the obviously the better choice.

2. Girls trip to Hershey Park! Here we are waiting in line for the Super Duper Loop.

3. Yup, still waiting in line. But this time, we managed to get everyone in the shot!

4. My college roommate was visiting from Kansas, so we all got together for brunch. And took lots of pictures afterward, of course.

5. My favorite of the carved pumpkins at work - Jack the skeleton.

6. The prettiest sunrise basically ever that I snapped a photo of on my drive to work.

7. My camera simply could not capture the beauty of the fall foliage in Charlottesville.

8. Visiting Thomas Jefferson's house, also known as Monticello.

9. Enjoying a crunchy walk in the leaves at the University of Virginia.

10. Pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon maple cream cheese icing (recipe to come)!
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Monday, November 10, 2014

101 in 1001: October 2014

Okay, I'll admit my accomplishments for October were pretty lackluster. With so many weekends spent away from home, it was hard to get much done. However, I did manage to cross two items off my list:

7. Finish all the Harry Potter books. 

8. Watch all the Harry Potter movies.

For a long time, I just could not get through the fifth book, so I never thought that I would finish the whole series. Once I finished that though, it was smooth sailing from there! I loved the sixth book, and was very pleased by how the whole series ended. 

Here's hoping next month will be much more successful!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Spring in the Fall

Jacket: Kate Spade
Shirt: Kate Spade
Pants: C. Wonder
Shoes: Tory Burch
Earrings: Neiman Marcus Last Call

Without the blazer, this feels like something I would wear in the first few days of spring. However, when I discovered this top in my mom's closet the last time I was home, I knew I couldn't wait until the warm days next year to wear this colorful blouse!

While initially I thought I might wear this with basic blue jeans, I decided to take advantage of all the color in this top, and pair it with a matching pair of lilac jeans. As I checked out my outfit in the mirror, I really was quite pleased! Of all the outfits I've worn this month, I think this one is my absolute favorite.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Engagement Session in Frederick, Md.

I'm so excited to be sharing my engagement photos today! My fiance and I have been engaged for more than a year now, and getting these photos taken was just one of the first steps we have finally taken in getting ready for our big day.

We met my freshman year in college, so all of the photos were taken at a park near our school where we spent a lot of time, and our alma mater. We had the best time with our photographer, and our so happy with how they turned out!

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