Friday, February 28, 2014

101 in 1001: February 2014

Boy, did February fly by quickly! I know it's the shortest month of the year, but I just can't believe March is just right around the corner. Wasn't it just New Year's? Maybe it's the extreme cold weather this year - it still feels like the middle of winter, instead of nearing the end.

Considering how short the month was, I am happy to say I was able to accomplish quite a bit on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. As promised, here is my monthly update for February. 

11. Read 20 new books. (WildDark PlacesMaze Runner)

I remember back in middle/high school, I was an extremely fast reader. I could typically finish a book in about or day or so; granted, what I was reading was definitely a lot shorter and easier to read. Anyway, now that I have a job, and somewhat of a life, I can only read about a book a week or so. One of my goals with this challenge was not only to read new kinds of books, but to get close to my old speed! This month, I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner. All very different in style, but they have one thing in common - they will all be made into movies this year! I really enjoyed Dark Places and The Maze Runner, but Wild just wasn't my speed.

I was busy in the kitchen this month! I was really excited to try a bunch of new recipes, and enjoy leftovers (honestly, the best thing about cooking for really only one person). Of everything that I made, I think my favorites were the queso dip, and the avocado chicken salad.

28. Inspire someone else to write a list.
I knew this one could be pretty easy, as long as I could find the right kind of person. While at dinner with one of my friends from college, I was pretty easily able to talk her into it. She's chronicling her adventures on her blog here.

45. Try five new restaurants. (The V Virginia Eatery and Brew house)
This one is actually pretty difficult for me, as the immediate area around me is surrounded by chain restaurants, which are in no way being included. However, I was happy to find a new restaurant that's local to me and that I would be willing to frequent again.

I created a Yelp account back in the spring of 2013, and never contributed anything other the occasional review every couple of months or so. I added this option to make better use of my account, and keep track of the good and bad experiences I've had with all kind of establishments.

52. Leave a 100 percent tip.

I've never left an 100 percent tip before, and I think it's a really awesome thing to do. In this instance, it wasn't much. But my fiance and I were having milkshakes at this diner on a Saturday night, and there was hardly anyone there other than us and our kind waitress. It felt like the right time and place to cross this one off my list, and I'm so glad! I would love to do it again - it made me feel so good when I left.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones

Most people consider any dish with pumpkin to fall under the autumn recipes umbrella. I'm not one of those people. Although you're not going to find me eating pumpkin pie in the middle of the summer, I really do enjoy the flavor year round. Today, I decided to break from my normal breakfast routine of oatmeal and a smoothie, and bake up some pumpkin scones instead (inspired by Damn Delicious, as always).

Oh my goodness, are these DELICIOUS! The scones are buttery, soft, and just a little bit chewy. Plus, they have a great pumpkin spice flavor, and are topped not just with one, but TWO sweet glazes. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I can imagine these being the perfect thing for dipping into a steaming hot mug of joe. Read below to see how I made these.


For scones:
-2 cups of flour
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
-1/2 pumpkin puree
-3 tbsp milk
-1 egg
-2 tsp vanilla extract

For white glaze
-1 cup powdered sugar
-2 tbsp milk

For spiced glaze
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground ginger
-pinch of nutmeg
-2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Add cold butter, using your fingers to work it into the dry ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine pumpkin puree, milk, egg, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms (it should be a little sticky).

4. Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a couple of times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10 by 7 inch circle. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half lengthwise, then crosswise. Cut eat quarter of the dough in half again, so you have 8 pizza-like slices.

5. Place scones onto your baking sheet. Place in the oven, and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Make the white glaze by combining powdered sugar and milk. Whisk with a fork until smooth. For the spiced glaze, combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and milk. Whisk, and set aside with white glaze.

Scones immediately after coming out of the oven. Yum!

7. After the scones have cooled, ice first with the white icing, and drizzle the spiced glaze using a spoon. Allow both glazes to set before serving. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Neutral Tones

Sweater: Lilly Pulizter
Shirt: Lauren Ralph Lauren
Pants: J. Crew
Shoes: Lucky Brand
Headband: Juicy Couture
Bracelet: vintage

I know I've probably said this before, but when all else fails, pull out every neutral piece you own, and throw it on. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but somehow it always works. Anyway, not only is this look ridiculously easy to pull together, it's super comfortable. Perfect for curling up in my desk chair, snuggling, and attempting to get work done.

Happy hump day! What's getting you to Friday? I know for me it's the fact that I'll be going home and spending some time with my family this weekend.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A week in Instagram

Looking back at the last two weeks or so, I'm noticing an overwhelming trend of pink. Well, it is February after all!

P.S. - Stay up to date with me by following me on Twitter and Instagram!

1. Classic prep essentials: chambray, red lips, stripes, and pearls.

2. Wearing bright fuchsia lipstick on a Tuesday morning because, well, why not?

3. Navy nails (Midnight Cami by Essie) and bright pink lips (Anime by Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics).

4. The perfect shirt to wear when trapped inside for a snow day.

5. The only thing I wanted for Valentine's Day was an apple-filled cinnamon donut from Dunkin' Donuts.

6. BUT, I have an awesome fiance, and he got me the most beautiful bouquet of tulips, and several boxes of Girl Scout Cookies.

7. Enjoying some fresh air and exercise this weekend. It was just too pretty to be inside!

8. Thanks to Twice, I was able to score two pairs of Ralph Lauren shorts for FREE! I got a $10 credit just for signing up, and an $10 additional for every device I installed their app on (my iPad and iPhone). Sound too good to be true? I promise it's not. Sign up using my referral link, and start saving on name brands!

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Winter Florals

Jacket: J. Crew
Dress: Diane von Furstenberg
Shoes: Lucky Brand
Scarf: Target

Spring is in the air! Although there is still snow on the ground from our last big storm about a week ago, I know the flowers and warm weather are just around the corner. Today, the temperatures are expected to hit the low 60s. Considering just a few weeks ago it was below freezing, this is beyond exciting news!

Here's a look from a couple of days ago that I'm just getting around to posting. Just another ordinary day at work. Since the flowers aren't out just yet, I figured I would wear this floral printed dress. To keep the look appropriate for the winter, I layered up with my field jacket and a soft scarf. You know there's nothing I love more than a red, white, and blue color combination!
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Christmas Colors

Sweater: Lord and Taylor
Shirt: Lauren Ralph Lauren
Pants: Lilly Pulitzer
Shoes: Vera Wang
Bracelet: vintage

Although the holiday season is long past, I couldn't resist pulling out my hunter green beaded sweater this morning. It's just too pretty to stay in my cedar chest until the Christmastime. Plus, it's still really cold outside, and I don't exactly have a huge winter wardrobe. So, I have limited choices as is everyday.

Sticking with the Christmas color scheme, I decided to layer this red plaid button up under my sweater. Not only does it serve as an extra layer to keep me warm, but  in addition, it provides a cheery pop of color to my otherwise dark ensemble. I finished off with a gold chain link bracelet that used to be my grandma's, and simple black ballet flats. Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Beef Queso Dip

I am a queso connoisseur. If I was stuck on a deserted island and could only eat one food for the rest of my life, I would choose queso over everything else. I am never, ever, sick of it. In fact, it's actually how I rate restaurants. If while looking at the menu I see queso in the appetizer section, I absolutely must order it. Then, I judge virtually my entire experience based on how it tasted. Fair? Probably not. But for me, it's a pretty good determining factor of how good the rest of meal is going to be.

When I found this recipe for beef queso on my new favorite blog Damn Delicious, I knew I would have to try it immediately. There was nothing about it that I didn't like: lots of cheese, spices, and ground beef. Yum! I decided to make some for the Super Bowl a couple of weekends ago, and couldn't get enough of it! Although it was wonderful just with chips on the first day, I really enjoyed smothering this hearty dip on top of tacos and quesadillas for the rest of the week.

-8 ounces Velveeta, cubed
-1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
-1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
-1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles
-8 ounces cooked ground beef
-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


1. Add Velveeta to a large saucepan, stirring until melted. Stir in Monterey Jack cheese, diced tomatoes, and green chilies until well combined. Stir in spices.

2. Add cooked ground beef and cilantro. Stir until combined and heated, about 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately with chips, and enjoy! Pin It

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Belated Valentine's Day

Vest: Eileen Fisher
Shirt: Ralph Lauren
Pants: Lucky Brand
Shoes: Coach
Earrings: Neiman Marcus Last Call
Bag: Kate Spade

I love Valentine's Day. I love wearing pink and red, eating as many little candy hearts as I can in one sitting, and sending cards to my loved ones. However, this year I just haven't been in the holiday spirit (although I eagerly bought just about everything in the clearance section at Target this weekend). So, my fiance and I decided to make really low-key plans for the weekend, and hang out in our apartment for the actual holiday.

We decided at the last minute to go see a basketball game at GMU, where my fiance goes to grad school, and grab an early dinner at this hole in the wall Mexican place across the street. I have to say, we had the absolutely best time! Apparently, it was homecoming weekend, so they had a lot of entertainment throughout the game. In addition, because we popped in for dinner so early, everything we ordered ended up being half price. You can't beat that! 
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

All things preppy

Shirt: J. Crew
Button up: Delia*s Warehouse Sale
Skirt: Theory
Tights: HUE
Shoes: Vera Wang
Necklace: Claire*s

Remember how I mentioned last week that I was trying to put more effort into my work attire? Here's today's attempt. Basically, I pulled every classic preppy piece that I own out of my closet, and put it on. I wasn't sure that the look was going to coming together, and I'm still not entirely sure if it does, but I don't really care. I kind of love how this turned out! 

The only thing this outfit is missing is navy tights. I swore I had a pair laying around, but as I dug around in my dresser, it was clear that I was mistaken. Although I was really looking forward to another monochromatic blue look, these berry ones work just as well! I finished with a swipe of red lipstick (currently loving Fiery from Stila) and black mascara, and headed out into the cold.
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Monday, February 17, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

Thanks to Damn Delicious, I think I'm finally beginning to break out of my weekday dinner rut. Goodbye (for now) to spaghetti with meatballs, tostadas, and grilled cheeses. Yes, these meals are beyond easy to make, but they are boring.

Every recipe on her page is mouthwatering, and for the most part can be made with ingredients you already have on hand. This week, I decided I would try her recipe for slow cooker chicken teriyaki. Personally, I love Asian inspired dishes, but my fiance isn't a fan. Courtesy of this dish though, I think I may have changed his mind.

-1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
-1/2 cup chicken broth
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-4 cloves of garlic, minced
-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
-green onion, chopped, for garnish
-sesame seeds, for garnish

1. Whisk together teriyaki sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic.

2. Place chicken breasts into your slow cooker, and cover with teriyaki mixture. Cover, and cook on low heat for 3 hours and 30 minutes.

3. Remove chicken from the slow cooker, and shred in a medium size bowl. Add the shredded chicken back to the slow cooker, and cover and keep for warm for an additional 30 minutes.

4. Serve with white rice, and garnish with chopped green onion and sesame seeds. Bon appetit! Pin It

Friday, February 14, 2014

Midnight Cami

Even though today is Valentine's day, this week I've been feeling blue. Last year, I'm pretty sure I wore shades of pink, red, and white almost exclusive through February, but this year has been different. So, it's only fitting that I decided to do my nails in a deep shade of blue.

I decide to forgo my traditional favorite blue, Essie's "Aruba Blue" for a new polish I picked up recently, Essie's "Midnight Cami." It's a deep navy with a little shimmer, but can look nearly black in some lights. Rest assured, it's much prettier than traditional plain black. In fact, I think it will look beautiful with dark blue or black glitter on top, kind of like a night sky. However, because this polish is so dark, it has a tendency to stain - so wear a good base coat underneath!
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February Funk

Jacket: J. Crew
Scarf: BCBG Max Azria
Dress: Vertical Designs by Lord and Taylor
Shoes: Lucky Brand

Recently, things at work have been rather miserable. Besides being insanely busy conducting training sessions and going to meetings, everyone has been in an especially sour mood. Maybe it's a post-holiday slump? Or everyone is just sick of the below freezing temperatures and threat of snow every day? I'm not quite sure what it is, but it has made me dread going into work, which I hate. 

To combat the funk, I've decided to put more time into getting ready in the morning, and looking pretty. I've found that it significantly increases my mood, and makes me more productive (and pleasant) throughout the day.  Typically, I have no issues with jeans, a soft cardigan, and a make-up free face when I know the day is going to be hectic, but that's just not cutting it this week. 

What do you wear when you need to get out a slump? Let me know in the comments - I'm looking for suggestions!
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A week in Instagram

The past couple of weeks or so have been hectic! Thankfully, things have calmed down a lot recently. Anyway, here's what things have looked like through the lens of my iPhone.

P.S. - Stay up-to-date with me by following me on Instagram and Twitter!

1. Chinatown by evening.

2. Enjoying a quiet morning and the view of the Potomac River from Alexandria.

3. Playing with the fluffiest kitty I've ever seen.

4. Date night with my fiance at a local bowling alley. Unfortunately for me, I didn't even break double digits.

5. Sending out pretty Valentine's.

6. Helping a good friend make birthday cakes for her niece and nephew. This one is inspired by the Avengers.

7. For her niece, a Little Mermaid style cake. Just missing the topper!

8. Put my leftover chicken teriyaki to good use by making Asian style nachos!

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Monday, February 10, 2014

My Strongest Suit

Blazer: Kate Spade
Top: BCBG Max Azria
Pants: Kate Spade
Shoes: L. K. Bennett

I've never owned my own business suit before. There was no reason to, really. Throughout college, whenever I had an interview or an important meeting to attend, I could typically get away with a pair of dress slacks and a nice blouse, or a blazer and a dress. Post graduation, whenever I was in a pinch and needed to look super professional, I could always borrow from my mom who thankfully is the exact same size as me.

However, I'm no longer living at home, and I've reached the stage in my life that I do need a business suit. Of course, it's not something that I'm going to be wearing even once a week, but it's definitely going to come in handy. Anyway, while shopping in NYC this past December, I was delighted when I stumbled upon this Kate Spade number on the clearance rack. As luck would have it, I was able to find both the blazer and the pants in my size, and both fit me perfectly without any alterations needed (score).

As usual, both of the pieces hung in my closet for quite awhile before I found the perfect occasion for their debut. In this case, a huge presentation that I had to lead. A couple of weeks ago, I talked about wearing a dress for a bit of luck, but for this meeting, luck wasn't going to cut it. I needed to be taken seriously and as an authority, and command the attention of the room. I knew this suit was the only thing that would fit the bill.

Thankfully, everything went off without a hitch. Of course, it helps that I spent days preparing and doing research prior to my meeting, but it's important to be confident in how you look too!

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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cajun Dirty Rice

If you're looking for another easy and simple dish to throw together after a long day at work - here you go! I love just about everything about rice dishes: they are cheap, filling, and work wonderful as leftovers. This recipe is no exception. Read below for how to make it yourself!

P.S - I had the hardest time finding Cajun seasoning, so I just made my own, which was super easy to do. If anyone knows where I can find some, please let me know in the comments!

-2 tbsps vegetable oil
-1/2 large onion, diced
-1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
-2 large celery stalks, diced
-12 ounces kielbasa, cut in bite size pieces
-2 tablespoons homemade Cajun seasoning (equal parts paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper,onion powder,cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme)
-2 cups white rice
-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
-1 cup water
-2 or 3 scallions, for garnish


1. Over medium-high heat, preheat oil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Add chopped onion, peppers, and celery. Saute until the vegetables soften, about four minutes or so. Add the kielbasa, and cook for another four minutes or so. Mix in Cajun seasoning.

2. Add rice, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Put lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to as low as it will go. Allow to cook untouched for 20 minutes.

3. Top with scallions, if desired. Enjoy!
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