It’s the very last Friday of 2017!

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Hi guys!

It’s Friday once again, but this is a particularly special Friday, because it’s the very LAST one of 2017! I’m happy to report that the year is wrapping up on an awesome note, and I’m super excited to see what is in store for 2018!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Is it just me, or is the week between Christmas and New Years always a bit of an odd blur? And this time around it’s been quite the FROZEN blur! We mostly stayed close to home on account of the below-zero temps…brrrr!!!

I finished reading Wonder by RJ Palacioย — it was SUCH a lovely little book. I loved the “voice” of Auggie and thoroughly enjoyed every heartwarming page. It even made my eyes tear up a couple times! I haven’t seen the film yet but I can imagine that it’s amazing too!

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I have already ordered my next book and am eagerly awaiting its arrival! According to the tracking info, it should get here today. I can’t wait to get started with it –>ย Beneath a Scarlet Skyย by Mark Sullivan! It has over 13,000 reviews on Amazon and an average 5 star rating! I don’t normally gravitate towards war-time books, but this one looks incredible. Actually, now that I think about it, another one of my favorite books is also set during a similar time frame –> The Book Thiefย by Markus Zusak (highly highly HIGHLY recommend!). I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my sister-in-law who introduced me to my all-time favorite vinaigrette is the VERY SAME person who first told me to read The Book Thief!!!

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My mid-morning snack yesterday consisted of a piece of 12-grain bread (this kind is our fave) and Nutella! Fun fact: this snack used to be in my post-run rotation during marathon training! You KNOW that deep hunger that sets in after a long run — sometimes the only thing that would hit the spot for me was bread with nutella ๐Ÿ™‚

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We went over to Ikea to browse their furniture and also look at their curtains. We have been debating whether to put curtains versus blinds over our patio doors. Turns out blinds don’t come wide enough for the door frame, so I guess that made the decision pretty easy –> curtains it is!

Side note: Does anyone else get a little stressed out in Ikea? I am not sure if it’s because it’s set up like a maze that you have to walk through in order to escape (hah!). Thankfully it wasn’t too crowded and we were able to make our way through it pretty easily.

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We checked out the bar-height table/chair options at Ikea. We’ve been wanting to get something bar-height for the deck, and they had a few decent options for relatively cheap. Since their furniture isn’t really made for outdoors, we’d probably need to coat it with some kind of sealant to protect it from the elements. We didn’t end up purchasing any furniture but it was nice to see what their options were. Several months ago we went to Jordan’s and found an awesome bar-height patio set, but it was crazy expensive ($3000)! In comparison, Ikea’s prices were VERY reasonable.

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I have never eaten Ikea food before, but their menu looked pretty yummy (and inexpensive!). Has anyone tried their food, and if so, would you recommend it?

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We ended up picking up lunch at Chipotle. I love their burrito bowls! Whenever I walk into a Chipotle, I am reminded of the time I lived in New York City… my bus stop was right in front of a Chipotle, so I became very accustomed to the smell of their food! Despite standing within feet of a Chipotle every single day, I never bought food from them until after I moved away from New York City. (weird, right? hah!). It wasn’t until we had moved to Houston that I tried Chipotle for the first time, and realized what I had been missing all along! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Joel likes to get their burritos, but I love to get their burrito BOWLS! ๐Ÿ™‚ I often get a combination of their mild and medium salsa, and if I’m feeling extra spendy, I’ll splurge on their guacamole too!

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We then headed over to Home Depot to pick out some BLINDS! We have been living in the house for a year and have not yet put blinds up in the living or dining rooms (all the other rooms already had blinds). Since we’re on a cul-de-sac it wasn’t the biggest deal, because only our immediate neighbors ever go past our house. But it was nice to finally get around to getting our blinds! While Joel was making sure the measurements were correct, I found a nice comfy box to sit on and wait for him. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Weย  also picked up another rollerย for painting the bedroom. With all the holidays (and all of the stuff that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays), we haven’t started rolling paint onto the actual walls yet. However, we officially have not one, but TWO coats of white paint on the baseboards and window frame! Yay for progress! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Two coats of white paint on those baseboards & window frame! Joel wants to put a third coat of white paint on them because there are a few places where the wood grain still peeks through.

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Dinner consisted of Chipotle leftovers and I was perfectly happy with that! I love that I can get at least 2 meals out of their burrito bowls.

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Joel did the actual work of putting up the blinds, while I made myself useful by being a good cheerleader and helper. The blinds look awesome!

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What is everyone up to tonight? Joel is going to a basketball game with a few of his friends. While he is out in the sub-zero temps, I will 100% be snuggled up, warm and toasty with a soft blanket on the couch! We finished our show (Rectify <– really good!) and are now on the hunt for the next show to dive into… suggestions welcome!

Have you ever eaten at Ikea? Got any book or show recommendations to share? What are your plans for New Years Eve?ย ย 

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A few memories from our Christmas + our painting progress!

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Hi friends!

I hope you’re all enjoying your week so far! It’s hard to believe Christmas was a couple days ago. This year we spent Christmas day with a few friends, and it was just perfect! Since we didn’t travel farther than 10 minutes from home, it was awesome being able to sleep in our own bed.

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Before we headed over to hang out with the Christmas crew, we cooked a turkey at home. We’ve had this turkey sitting in our freezer for a while so we decided to go ahead and cook it up. We froze a bunch of it so that we can have it for later. Joel made turkey broth from the carcass, bones, and neck. We felt pretty accomplished!

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While the turkey was in the oven, we made Christmas brunch of pancakes, bacon, and eggs (the eggs didn’t make it onto my plate lol). We don’t usually do a big brunch on Christmas day if the main meal is in the afternoon, but since this time our Christmas meal wasn’t until the evening, we decided to go for it! It was delicious! Our favorite pancake mix is THIS kind!

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It snowed in the morning but was all done by the time we wrapped up brunch. I don’t think I’ve ever had a white Christmas before! It was lovely seeing the beautiful snow come down. We got 2-3 inches of the fluffy stuff. It was super pretty! Joel was able to shovel the driveway very easily since it was so light and powdery. ๐Ÿ™‚

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After all the shoveling was done, we watched some of the Disney Christmas parade on TV. I couldn’t resist a few of these Japanese rice crackers. We picked these up last weekend in NYC when we were in China Town. I have probably said this a million times, but I have a SERIOUS love for China Town! And these little crackers were absolutely delicious! I will definitely have to pick up more of these the next time we’re in the city (or order them online lol). They have JUST the right amount of sweet and salty in every crunchy bite.

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Our neighbors brought over this tin of cookies as a Christmas gift. It was so nice of them! I used to have these as a kid, but I haven’t had them in a long time! I don’t remember them having such a strong vanilla taste, so that was a surprise, but they are still yummy. One of my highschool friends used to dunk these in milk. I have never tried that but I’m sure it’s tasty. My favorites are the ones shaped like pretzels (but I’m pretty sure they all have the same taste lol)!

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We headed over to our friend’s house at around 5pm. She lives 10 minutes away from us so it was a super easy drive. Several other friends made an appearance too, it was a fun little group! Joel put his fire-making skills to good use. There’s nothing like a warm, crackling fire to make things nice and toasty!

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There were a bunch of these little beetles hiding in a bag of newspaper kindling. When Joel was putting the newspaper into the fire, he noticed these little buggers all over the place. At first we all thought they were stink-bugs, but after some googling, our friend Jeff decided that they must be some type of Japanese beetle. These beetles must have made a nest in the bag and couldn’t have been too thrilled that we were disrupting their peace!

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The cheese and cracker board was a big hit. I especially enjoyed the spicy pepperjack cheese with the butterfly shaped crackers. The butterfly shaped crackers were unreal! Every time I have them, I am reminded how good they are! My friend Charlene was all about the cheeseball. Whenever I see a cheeseball, it reminds me of junior high. Our dorm-mom at boarding school would make these incredible homemade cheeseballs for all of us girls. Great memories!

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Dinner was pretty SPECTACULAR! Beef roast, green beans, and shredded potatoes topped with cheese! This was my first time eating potatoes prepared like this, and I very much enjoyed the experience! The cheesy layer on top was pretty stellar too! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Dessert was this unbelievably YUMMY gingerbread creation by Amy. I could have gone back for seconds and thirds of this. She also made the most amazing hot chocolate to go with it, which took the whole thing to the next level! I will be needing more hot chocolate in my life, for sure!

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Amy has 4 beautiful labs (2 are hers, and she’s fostering 2 for a year while the owner is deployed). The dogs were super well behaved and came out to join the party after dinner. Hanging with these pups made us all want to adopt a rescue right away!

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Joel and Blitz bonded over the course of the evening. Blitz is such a gentle dog and loved to just hang out near Joel. What a lovely way to spend Christmas!!

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The day after Christmas was nice and low key. We relaxed at home in the morning, ate some leftovers, and caught up on episodes of Rectify.ย  In the afternoon we went out to Home Depot to pick up supplies for our painting project. We got the first coat of paint on the baseboards, window frame, and window-muntins!

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Nothing tasted better after painting than honeycrisp apples. It was exactly what I needed! Back in college I used to love Fuji apples, but when I moved to Texas I discovered honeycrisp and have never looked back!

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The rest of the day will probably be pretty relaxed around here. We are enjoying our time off work! It’s pretty chilly outside so we’re definitely opting to stay warm indoors. We might check out the new Star Wars movie at some point if we decide to venture beyond the house ๐Ÿ™‚ Probably the biggest decision to make now is when to take down the tree…

I hope you’re enjoying your week!

How long do you leave your tree up? Have you ever had shredded potatoes? Are you a dog person? What’s your favorite type of apple?ย  ย ย 

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Our 10 year anniversary trip + Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, friends!!!

I hope everyone is enjoying their lovely holiday celebrations, food, and company!

The festivities kicked off on Thursday night via a breakfast-for-dinner potluck with our smallgroup. Joel and Dooze did a great job manning the stove and making sure the pancakes, bacon, eggs, and sausage were cooked to perfection!

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We just barely managed to fit everyone around the table ๐Ÿ™‚ Everyone’s contributions were delicious — blueberry compote, cinnamon rolls, and banana bread were among the various homemade dishes. Yum! And as always, there was plenty of laughter to go around. We love our friends!

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After stuffing ourselves with way too many pancakes, we played Fishbowl (awesome group game) then did some White Elephant gift-giving. The max to spend was $10 and there were some really amazing gifts! Jamie made a homemade sweet potato pie and packaged it beautifully in a gorgeous box. Jessica brought some artisan honey jars of different flavors. Sadly, Joel and I did not end up with either of these haha! There were a couple gag gifts thrown into the mix too (we ended up with those lol!) –> they might have to be re-purposed for the next White Elephant!

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Friday was our 10 year anniversary (wooo!) and we drove down to NYC to celebrate! We had hotel points, so we got to stay at a hotel in Times Square. Fun Fact: my first job out of college was right in Times Square, on 42nd and Broadway!

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The first thing we did after dropping our stuff off at the hotel was find a foreign currency exchange. Ever since we spent Christmas in the Bahamas last year, I’ve had leftover Bahamian dollars in my wallet because our bank doesn’t exchange them. It felt good to finally change them back to US dollars, even if it was a BIT of an exchange-rate rip-off!

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After that it was getting close to our reservation time for dinner, so we then made our way via subway to the Ethiopian restaurant, Injera! Neither of us had eaten all day (totally accidental!). So we were both SUPER hungry and more than ready to indulge! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s been a long long time since we’ve had Ethiopian food!!!

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In my opinion it’s better to get combination platters rather than single dishes, so we decided on the “meat combo for 2”. It came with 2 beef dishes, 2 lamb dishes, and 4 vegetable dishes. I’ve loved Ethiopian food since I was a child (there is amazing Ethiopian cuisine in Nairobi) and I’m so glad that Joel loves it too!

The food comes on a large flat platter, arranged on top of a big round injeraย (spongy sourdough flat bread made from teff flour). Additional injera was served on the side, which is used to scoop up the meat/veggies — fingers are the only utensils you need! Joel also ordered some Ethiopian honey wine which he really enjoyed.

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We thought for sure we’d have leftovers, but NOPE! We finished every last delicious morsel. We will definitely be back in the not-too-distant future! Highly highly HIGHLY recommend this restaurant if you’re looking for stellar food, lovely atmosphere, great service, and did I mention stellar food???

Here’s a close-up glamour shot of some injera, backlit by candle light ๐Ÿ™‚

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We couldn’t have asked for a more delicious or enjoyable anniversary dinner. It was a perfect way to wrap up the first 10 years of marriage and kicked off the NEXT 10 years! ๐Ÿ™‚

We were RIDICULOUSLY stuffed after the meal, and definitely needed to do some exploring to walk it off.ย We braved the crowds and strolled (or should I say waddled due to the fullness of our bellies?) through 30 Rock to admire the tree. It was even more impressive than I expected. NYC certainly knows how to go big!

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And of course the skating rink at Rockefeller. It was pretty packed on the ice! Going for a skate would probably set you back an insane amount of money…

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The light show at Saks 5th Ave was unreal — so many twinkling lights coordinated with Christmas music! I can’t imagine putting up (or taking down) all these LIGHTS!

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Afterwards we walked back towards Times Square and made a pit stop at Bryant Park. There were lots of little kiosks set up with different things for sale, and it was fun wandering around looking at all the goodies.

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Remember how our new-to-us Christmas tradition is to get a new ornament each year? We picked out our 2017 ornament at Bryant Park! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a gorgeous glass ornament made in St. Petersburg, Russia. Such a beautiful momento to remember our 10 year anniversary by!

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My brother and sister-in-law are in Austria for Christmas so we didn’t get to see them this around. However we did meet up with a family friend at Jing Fong in China Town for dim sum lunch later in the weekend. It was overcast and rainy that day, so there was no line outside the restaurant (there’s usually a crazy long wait to get inside).

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It was so fun catching up over delicious dim sum! The restaurant is absolutely enormous and was so busy that it buzzed like a beehive! We have been here once before and loved it. This time was no different – it’s the best dim sum I’ve ever had! Hopefully we’ll be back again for Chinese New Year (with my brother and sister-in-law too!) ๐Ÿ™‚

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We walked around China town afterwards to explore and pick up random things to bring home. Joel was particularly intrigued by the dried sea cucumbers (dark pickle shaped things in the jars). We didn’t buy them but I am curious as to what they are used for.

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We bought red bean buns and moon cakes to bring home. I love these little mooncakes. They are filled with red bean paste and oh so yummy!

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We walked through the Oculus, which reminded me of being inside a whale because it looks like ribs. ๐Ÿ™‚

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We thought about going up the freedom tower but didn’t have enough time. But we did get to see the reflecting pool, which was beautiful.

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Then it was time to head back home to Connecticut! SUCH a fun little anniversary trip!!!

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I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas and enjoying time with your loved ones! We are heading to a friend’s place this afternoon for the Christmas meal, and are looking forward to enjoying time together.

Merry merry merry Christmas Everyone!!!

 

What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC? Have you tried Ethiopian food or dim sum? Where are you this Christmas?

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My new fave snack might surprise you; my current show; our anniversary!

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Hi friends ๐Ÿ™‚

It is officially our 10 year wedding anniversary today!!! We are so excited to celebrate the past decade of marriage together! Fun fact: we also commemorate our DATING anniversary (our 14th this past October!)… we usually don’t do anything big for that, but it’s fun to remember ๐Ÿ™‚

So what are you guys up to this weekend? I bet I can guess… I’m sure many of you will be traveling for Christmas (if you aren’t already at your Christmas destination)!! To those who are going to be traveling: I hope you all have safe trips wherever you are headed. I wish you all the safety and smooth travel — may you encounter ZERO traffic and NO delays of any kind!

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As for us, we are staying put here in the northeast for Christmas. It will be so nice! I’m excited to cook a lovely meal together, enjoy some time off work, and get ready for another new year. Depending on what the weather does, we might spend some time outside, like go for a walk or hike. The forecast shows rain today and tomorrow, and a possibility of snow on Monday… so it looks like we just might have a chance of getting our White Christmas after all! ๐Ÿ™‚

The week before Christmas is always so busy… we ran a few errands, including dropping packages off at FedEx. The line at FedEx was INSANE! Everyone must have been trying to get their last-minute holiday mail shipped. We waited in line for about an hour… which is officially the longest I have ever stood in line at FedEx.

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When we got home, we did a little more sanding in the bedroom to prep the baseboards for paint. I’m excited to get that first layer of white paint on the baseboards! We took all the pictures off the walls and put them in the hallway. The walls are looking pretty bare now. It always amazes me just how miserable the switches and outlets look without the covers on them lol!

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I felt like grabbing a snack and decided on a banana topped with nutella! I don’t always reach for bananas (they are more Joel’s thing) but this totally hit the spot. I don’t know why I don’t eat this combination more often… it’s such a nice treat! I will have to keep it in the snack repertoire and add it into the rotation more often ๐Ÿ™‚

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You’ll never guess what Joel found… he found our 2 foot pre-lit Christmas trees! Apparently they were up in the attic all this time. We haven’t set these out in YEARS — since we lived in Texas! I honestly thought they had gotten lost in the move! Joel wanted to put one in his office, and we’re still deciding where we want the other 2 to go. Eventually I may put one in each guestroom to add some festivity to the bedrooms. We won’t have overnight guests this Christmas, so I’ll probably wait to do that next year.

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Just cooking up a whole lot of broccoli — our favorite way do broccoli is with extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt on the stove top. It’s so easy and tasty! I usually cook them over medium or high heat until they turn bright green with just a little bit of char. It normally takes just a few minutes for smaller batches. Since this was a larger-than-normal batch, I used lower heat with a covered pan. Stirred frequently to prevent the ones on the bottom from burning. It took a little longer than usual but totally worth it! And it made for some great leftovers!

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I chopped up my broccoli to match my chopped up salmon — the salmon started flaking apart while cooking so I just embraced it – made it cook faster anyway hah! Quinoa was added to the plate after the photo. Side note: ever since my sister gave me her rice cooker, I have been using it to cook quinoa, beans, and rice! (It’s so much easier to cook quinoa in a rice cooker compared to boiling it in a pot… it comes out perfect every time!)

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Our current foyer situation. We don’t wear shoes in the house and I like to leave a shoe mat near the front door so that guests have a place to put their shoes. The bench was a craigslist purchase and makes for a good place to sit while taking off or putting on shoes. The coat rack is from Pier 1 – we bought it a few years ago and it has served us well. Eventually I would love to get some “real” foyer furniture — I’ve seen some nice (but pricey) options from Pottery Barn. But that’s more the long term plan, because what we’ve got works just fine, so there’s no immediate rush to change things up just yet.

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Joel had some projects to catch up on for his job, and decided to work on them after dinner.

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While he was hard being a productive human, I parked myself on the couch and caught up on episodes of Rectify! I’m really enjoying this show. I love the character development and the acting. The story follows a man who has been released from prison after DNA evidence showed that he was wrongfully convicted. It makes me really think about how tough it must be to re-acclimate to the general public when you’ve been removed from society for so long. The show has a slow-moving feel, which I am really enjoying, because it makes the characters and storylines feel more real. I always tell my brother in the entertainment industry when I find a good show, and he texted me saying that it had gotten good ratings. If you’re looking for a good binge-worthy show, you should consider Rectify!

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And I’ll leave you with a parting shot of my dinner from 2 nights ago… brown rice, broccoli, and rump roast! I can’t get enough of this roast! All we did was add some teriyaki sauce to the crock pot –> ridiculously good ๐Ÿ™‚

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I hope you all have AMAZING Christmas and/or holiday celebrations! Enjoy all the cookies, candy canes, and pie, and soak in every single precious moment with the ones you love!

What’s your favorite mid-day snack? Where are you spending Christmas?

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Sanding of the baseboards, and my new fave way to cook salmon!

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Hey there friends!

It’s been a busy couple of days around here. We decided to get started with sanding the baseboards and window trim in the spare bedroom to prepare them for white paint. The first thing we did was remove all the outlet covers from the walls — I guess we could have waited until after sanding to do this, but doesn’t hurt to get them off early. ๐Ÿ™‚ I feel like the outlets look so sad without the covers on them lol.

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We then put painting tape down along the floorboards. Granted, this may not be the most exciting part of the process, but gotta keep those floors looking nice! Getting the tape down BEFORE sanding also helps to protect the floor from getting scratched while sanding. Back in my early 20’s was the first time I ever painted a room by myself, and I did not use tape… it did not end well — there was definitely copious amounts of paint on the floors and ceilings.ย  #fail

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Next step: sanding! We do not have a power hand-sander, so we used good old-fashioned elbow grease to get the job done. The muntins on the windows pop off which made them easier to sand (and will also make them easier to paint)!

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Fun fact, we once sanded an entire dining table and 4-chair set BY HAND – it took maaaany hours and my arms were really sore the next day. Luckily the baseboards and window trim did not take nearly as long. ๐Ÿ™‚ We should probably go ahead and get a power sander at some point haha! This Black & Decker sander looks like it would be perfect!

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We popped out to Home Depot for some supplies (our weekly routine lol). I just love how these wide planks look! If we ever have to re-do our floors, I would love to get wide planks — the lighter colored ones in the middle are my fave. However, for the sake of our budget, let’s just hope our current floors will hold up nicely for MANY years to come!

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While we’re on the topic of house projects, I requested help hanging a painting on the wall. Over the years I have come to realize that I move things around in the house every so often… like making little adjustments here and there until everything “feels” right. I’m glad Joel is easy-going and doesn’t mind if the coffee table is suddenly switched out for the ottoman… ๐Ÿ™‚

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We got some snow showers earlier in the week! It wasn’t enough to bring out the blower, so Joel took care of the driveway with a couple shovels. I wonder if we will have a white Christmas this year. I feel like the last couple years we didn’t really get snow until January… although now that I think about it, last year we were in the Bahamas for Christmas so I have no idea if it snowed that week!

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I almost bought these red bean steamed buns from the grocery store. I really like them, but I didn’t think we’d eat the whole package before they went bad. Maybe next time I’ll freeze half of them for later. We like to get FRESH red bean buns whenever we are in China town. They are best that way!

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Another grocery store purchase: salmon! We want to eat more fish, and so far have been enjoying incorporating it more into our weekly meals.

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I usually bake salmon in the oven, but last night I decided to cook it on the stove top with butter. It was pretty stellar! I think this way is my new favorite way to cook salmon! So easy! The only things I had to watch out for were the butter explosions which would periodically spray me with hot butter — but this wasn’t an issue after I covered the pan (hah!). I kept telling Joel the salmon was fighting back! ๐Ÿ™‚ In any case, it turned out super tasty! We added lemon juice and salt, and ate ’em with broccoli and garlic knots. ๐Ÿ™‚

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One of the garlic knots! We got these from an Italian restaurant in Hamden that sells them by the dozen. Yum! It was our first time ordering these (Joel had a hankering for them) and they were so good that we will definitely be back for more.

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We didn’t eat all 12 at dinner, and saved the leftover knots in a ziplock bag for later (they are delicious the next day!)

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We decided to wrap our White Elephant gifts in newspaper. Our small group is having a breakfast-for-dinner potluck on tomorrow and we’ll be doing a gift exchange via White Elephant. The max amount was $10. I got a four-pack of Starbucks Mocha Frapย drinks which are such a delicious indulgence for any caffeine lover! Joel went the practical route, his gift was a flashlight!

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Just re-heating some leftover pancakes and bacon (and cooking some eggs) for breakfast — we don’t normally do pancakes or bacon during the week but had some in the fridge from brunch over the weekend. Made for a breakfast of champions! What is your favorite way to cook eggs? Joel and I like over easy, and sometimes sunny side up! My least favorite way to eat eggs is probably boiled…

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We had the slow cooker and rice cooker going at the same time, and it felt like one of those “look ma, no hands” situations lol ๐Ÿ™‚ I got this slow cooker a few years ago at the recommendation of my sister in law who cooks all kinds of incredible meals in hers. I just cooked a rump roast in ours — it was around 4 lbs and I cooked it on low for 7 hours then cut it up into cubes, then cooked it for another 90 min. I wasn’t actually planning to cube it, and did that on a whim. It turned out really nicely — each cube absorbed the marinade (as opposed to only the outermost layer) and it tasted good.

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What’s your favorite salmon recipe? What was the most recent home project you worked on? Got any painting tips/hacks to share?ย  ย 

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What’s your fave slow cooker roast, and a few more photo memories!

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Hey there friends!

First thing’s first – what did you do over the weekend? We went and picked up paint for one of the bedrooms — super excited to get some painting done! The “grey cloth” color is going to look so lovely. I seriously want to eventually do the entire house this color. We had wanted to at least get started with painting the room, but time got away from us. We aren’t in a huge rush, so we’re fine with delaying it for a rainy (or snowy) day.

The fact that Christmas is only a week away is mindblowing to me. Since we did a big trip to the Bahamas for Christmas last year, we decided to stay local and low-key this year. Plus, it’ll be our first Christmas in the house!

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We recently discovered a new-to-us restaurant nearby called J Roos. One night we decided that salmon sounded great — the first place that popped into mind was actually Red Lobster, but I wasn’t enticed by their salmon dish (it came with shrimp and I’m not the hugest fan). Joel suggested J Roos, it’s a restaurant we drive past at least once a week and always say “we should try it sometime”… And I’m glad that we finally did! They have an awesome menu, generous portion sizes, plenty of side options to choose from, and seriously delicious food. My dinner leftovers tasted awesome the next day for lunch! We will definitely be back to J Roos to try more options from their menu.

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All this brisk weather has given me the hankering for soup. There’s nothing better than a big bowl of hearty soup when temps dip below freezing.

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It’s hard to believe I have yet to bust out my lovely littleย slow cooker yet this season. However, we just picked up a roast, so we will be putting the ol slow cooker to good use for that. What’s your favorite way to make a roast in the slow cooker? My sister-in-law gave me a recipe a while back that involved condensed mushroom soup, and I loved it! I need to hunt around to find that recipe again!

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Well hey, now is as good a time as any to share a few more photo memories from the archives! Get ready folks!

Back in college, Joel and I used to take road trips to Maine every summer to visit his family. On one of these trips, we went to a flea market just outside his town. Joel was pretty interested in the golf clubs! I think he ended up buying a set which he STILL has an uses (different golfbag though). He didn’t used to golf very often, but now we have a country club near our house and he’s gone several times this year already.

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My college roommate Emily and I at a Baltimore Orioles game! We took a road trip down to Baltimore with a group of friends. Emily has the most hilarious personality and incredibly musically talented! We roomed together during our junior and senior year. One of my favorite things about Emily is that she never took herself too seriously, and was SUCH an awesome friend!

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In our senior year of college, Joel and I hiked about 20 miles of the Appalachian trail. We brought sandwiches, snacks, and water in our backpacks, and set off on the trail! We aimed to hike to a certain natural formation (I think it was called “Table Rock”?) – it was supposed to be a big flat rock with an amazing view, so we wanted to have lunch there. Sadly we must have walked right past it without realizing, oops! We ended up eating lunch on a random rock (still a great view though)!

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The summer after junior year was spent in Kenya volunteering at several medical clinics/hospitals. I was a biology pre-med major in college and had every intention of going to med school to become a surgeon. That summer, I shadowed several doctors, and spent a lot of time in medical facilities. I didn’t end up going to med school (I went the grad school route) but I’m still grateful for the experiences that I had. While in Kenya I also got to watch some good rugby! It was a lot of fun, especially since I rarely get to watch rugby in the US. Below is the varsity rugby team from my former high school. They were participating in a tournament called Black Rock, which includes teams from all over Kenya. It was a blast catching up with some of my former teachers who showed up to spectate. One of the bigger guys on the team came up to me and was like “DAWN!! DO YOU REMEMBER ME!?” …….and for the life of me I could not figure out who he was!… turns out we had been in choir together 3 years prior, and he had grown about 2 and a half feet taller since the last time I saw him!

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Halloween party back in 2006. I had recently graduated from college several months before this, and was still figuring out how to do “life” on my own. I moved to New York to work in Health Public Relations and fend for myself. That Halloween I was a referee haha. I was living out of suitcases in a studio apartment on Staten Island and commuting 4 hrs round trip to Manhattan every day. This was the only costume I found that I actually wanted to wear. I remember that I had also just come down with some nasty bug, and was feeling pretty sick that night. I kinda wanted to leave the party early (parties are way less fun when you’re sick). But I didn’t want to ask my friend who gave me a ride to leave, because she looked like she was having fun. So I took one for the team and curled up in some random corner lol. At some point that night I ended up going outside and calling Joelย to tell him that I felt ill haha. He was in Texasย  (his first post-college job moved him to Houston) and of course couldn’t do anything about it except tell me that he was sorry I felt sick. Ah memories haha!

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Last photo: when I graduated with my PhD, my family came to Texas to celebrate from all over the globe. My younger brother and sister got to come hang out for a while. It was so fun taking them to our favorite spots in Houston, and introducing them to our friends! Lots of warm fuzzies from that time ๐Ÿ™‚

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Looking at old photos brings back some major memories, and a few feels! It makes me wish I had taken even more photos over the years! ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s your preferred photo printing service? Do you have a favorite soup? Have you ever been to a flea market?ย 

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Repainting our walls, deviating from my breakfast norm, and what I add to noodles

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Hey there friends!

Happy FRIDAY everyone! It’s been a long week so I’m excited to get some relaxation in this weekend! Joel was in Michigan for a 2-day business trip earlier in the week, so I held down the fort here at home.

I watched a lot of “Lizzie Borden Chronicles” on Netflix — quite creepy and intense at some points, but very good! I have loved Christina Ricci since the Casper movie (talk about a throw-back!). Lizzie Borden is not exactly a “feel-good” show… it actually got rather gory at times, so be warned! Watch with caution! I feel like my gore tolerance has increased after seeing all the various zombies (and killings thereof) on Walking Dead. So although I found some parts kinda gross, they didn’t render the show un-watchable for me.

While we’re on the topic of shows, who here watches THIS IS US??? It has got to be my favorite show of all time! My favorite character in it, Randall, is played by Sterling K. Brown, who was nominated for a Golden Globe. I really really hope he wins! It would be so well deserved!

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Remember all that snow from last weekend? It’s mostly gone now after temps raised to above freezing and it rained… but this is what it looked like when the snow was done coming down — we got around 6 inches total. It was very pretty! There’s something so magical about freshly fallen snow. Everything is so quiet and peaceful. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Temps have been up and down all week long (mostly down hah), which means I haven’t been excited about spending a lot of time outdoors. But you know what, it sure is nice to snuggle up indoors in cozy blankets! It may be chilly out there, but I love how festive and warm our home is with our Christmas tree lights twinkling. Speaking of the tree, I mentioned before that we were going to tie string/fishing-line to these pinecones and hang them on the tree…

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…we finally got around to it! I love how the pinecones look on the tree ๐Ÿ™‚ I also really like that these came right from our very own backyard — our first DIY Christmas “ornaments”! It was so easy. I am thinking it would look extra pretty to spray-paint white “snow” onto the pinecones (likeย THIS!).

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Guys, remember how I ordered a 20-pack of ramen noodles from Amazon? They arrived earlier in the week! I’m super excited!

The first thing I did was whip up some noodles for lunch… ramen topped with salad leftovers and grilled chicken! It was pretty delicious ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s got to be the easiest and yummiest meal ever! And it’s also a good way of incorporating leftover veggies and/or proteins into a meal without feeling like you’re repeating the same thing over again (although I do not mind repeating meals haha) ๐Ÿ™‚

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…Case in point… my inability to stop puttingย this vinaigretteย on EVERY salad in sight! I should probably just go ahead and buy stock in this company because I foresee many bottles in my future. I still haven’t tried it with strawberries yet so I think THAT must be my next mission. ๐Ÿ™‚

Joel usually eats 2 eggs every morning for breakfast, and on most days I happily join on in on that bandwagon. However, yesterday I decided to deviate from the norm and instead munched on a honeycrisp apple with my favorite peanut butter. For some totally unintentional and unfathomable reason, it’s been a while since I’ve had peanut butter – I think it’s because I was on a nutella kick recently, but I sure am glad to have it back in my life!

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So I finished my book club book “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen… it was such a good read! I found myself genuinely rooting for the main character, and I shed a tear at the end because my heart was so touched (I got super invested hah). I love the pace of the writing, and felt like it was so palatable all the way through. I am actually sad that there aren’t more chapters to read. I’ll definitely be checking out more works by Sara Gruen! I’m a fan of her writing for sure.

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I can’t wait to meet with my book club to discuss Water for Elephants, and hear everyone’s opinions. We will meet in mid-Jan which seems so far away! I definitely have time to read another book in the meantime. I ordered Wonderย and am very VERY excited to get started! ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t seen the movie yet (I’ll wait till I finish the book) but based on previews and book description, I have a feeling the book will majorly tug at my heart-strings!

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So guys, when we bought our house, two of the bedrooms were painted light pink. The previous owners had two daughters so the pink made sense. But it isn’t really “us” so we have been planning to repaint both rooms.

I actually repainted one of the rooms back in February so that Joel could use it as his office. The color we chose was a “blue-toned white” (it reads more light blue than white). The lighter color REALLY brightened up the room and make everything feel incredibly fresh. Sidenote: Joel didn’t end up using that room as his office because he decided he needed more space, so he ended up moving his office down to the basement. The room has now been converted to a guestroom. In any case, we are pretty happy with the new paint color.

We are now finally getting around to painting the second pink room. We picked out a light grey color and got some swatches up on the wall. The color is called “grey cloth” which I think is quite appropriate! I wish our whole house was this color!

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On the left is the swatch with two coats, and on the right with one coat.

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The floor boards and window frame are currently varnished wood (not sure what kind of wood, but maybe oak?) and we plan to paint all of those white. I love a grey and white color combination! I’m excited to jump into another house project and freshen up this space. Hopefully we’ll be able to get it all done this weekend!

What do you have planned for your weekend? Any fun holiday festivities or parties?

Got any tips or hacks for painting walls? What house projects have you worked on? Did you DIY any of your Christmas ornaments?

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