Monday, December 31, 2012


This will be a short post...I felt like I really had to reach 100 posts for 2012, not leave it at 99 for the year. It's been a great year with the obvious highlights of getting married and going on a great honeymoon. I can't say it's going out too well...both of us had a little stomach bug so our New Year's plans are canceled. Typically I am the one that gets sick since I have one of the germ-iest jobs on the planet, but this time Matt got it too and I'm experiencing my first "man-sickness." 

Let's just hope he's better by tomorrow. Tomorrow Matt goes to New Orleans for work and I get to join him Thursday night. I'm super excited. I have never been there and am very excited to add Louisiana to my 50 states goal. So, my blog friends, if you have any New Orleans tips, please send them my way. I hope you all have a Happy New Year and a fabulous 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Ropa Vieja
This ropa vieja recipe was very simple and made tons of leftovers. As you can see I served with roasted brussel sprouts (recipe here). The ropa vieja was good, but a little on the tomato-y side. I would probably cut the amount of crushed tomatoes, or eliminate the ketchup when making it again. 

1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (with seeds)
Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak or flank steak
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small onion, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice, for serving

Combine the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and 3/4 teaspoon salt in crock pot. Add the steak, bell peppers and onion and toss to coat. Cover and cook on low, undisturbed, 8 hours.

After cook time...coarsely shred the meat with 2 forks, and serve over rice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from 709 and 709's extended family! 

Flaherty Family at Kennywood's Christmas Lights 
Steeler Cousin Love

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Crockpot Potatoes
Ok so this really isn't a recipe, it's more an idea. I had no idea you could do this. I like baked potatoes, but rarely ever have them because by the time I get home from work I don't really want to wait an hour or so for them to cook. Well, I saw this idea on can just put baked potatoes in a crock pot and leave them all day. I tried it for my turn to cook bowling dinner (more on this some other time) to make stuffed potatoes and it worked out great. Just stick as many potatoes as you want in the crock pot (I did wrap mine in foil cause I thought they might get messy or something in there alone) and cook on low all day. The only downfall is that they don't get crispy skins in you are into that, but I would say the potato is way softer and better overall than when cooking them in the oven.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

National Tree Lighting

I mentioned I was going to attend the National Tree Lighting a few posts ago. Here are some very belated pictures from the event. It was definitely an experience. I'm glad I went, but I'm not so sure I will be back for a few years to come. It was very cold, and let me tell you there was a lot of waiting around for the Obama's who were 45 minutes late. I have a theory that good old Melia was being a typical teenager and not wanting to attend because she did not look pleased at all. Neither did Grandma. 

If you look close your can see Baracksies

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Pasta Bake
Back in the day, circa 2003, when I was living the dream, there use to be this pasta sauce on the market called "Pasta Bake." Basically all you had to do was take an uncooked box of pasta, a jar of this sauce, and then refill the same jar with water and dump it in a pan together and bake it til edible. I might have been living the dream, but that grossness I just described (which was delicious at the time) is not so dreamy. That being said, I would take my college lifestyle sophomore year in good old 208 Carlton Apartments any day. My roommate Jordan and I has some very interesting recipes that were go to and Pasta Bake was a winner. I guess this is my grown up version.

This pasta is filled with eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and spinach. I also made the sauce. To start I put the chopped veggies in a skillet and cooked them until soft. I also cooked and drained one box of pasta (in the picture above it's the end of one box and the beginning of another thats why there's 2 shapes). I put a few spoonfuls of ricotta in the cooked pasta and stirred it together and then added the sauce (recipe below), veggies, and pasta together and combined them. After that I just sprinkled with some shredded mozzarella and baked it for 20 minutes. Obviously you can use jar sauce instead of making it, and use any veggies or meat you would like. 

Simple Marinara Sauce:
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1tbsp. red pepper flakes
1tbsp. oregano
1/2 cup torn basil leaves

In a sauce pan heat olive oil (covering bottom of pan), garlic, and pepper flakes until garlic is golden. Add tomatoes, half cup of water, and oregano and bring to a boil. Turn to low and simmer adding basil and salt and peper to taste. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits (from the Elementary Friends)

Remember how I said the natives were restless? Just a few reports from the day:

Teacher One: Found out one student was selling advertisements for a play a couple of kids are writing and another student is starting his own lotto, while at lunch a student hit another kid because he had to break up with his girlfriend. To end the day a crazy one of my special children answered a math problem correctly and turned around and said "are you going to clap for me now?"

Teacher Two: Student: "What?! You're not married yet? Well better get a move on Grandma." Of course, said student said this after kissing the counselor's hand & then lamenting when he heard she was "a married woman."

Yours Truly: After telling a student to stop kicking himself in the head, "I will not stop. I am not your pet." This after a 45 minute battle over a spirit stick with the reindeer name Dancer on it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Love(s)

It's been awhile. Soooo to make up for it this will be a multi-topic long post. Sorry! Nothing is really going to be related to each other so bear with me.

1. Penn State. I have contemplated for the past few weeks about writing a post on this season of football. It's been an incredibly emotional year to be a Nittany Lion. I decided against writing a post about it because in the end the haters are going to hate. I am very proud of this years team, however. And yesterday on Facebook my sister really summed it all up:

"I am so proud of Penn State. W. Soccer is going to the championship game, Wrestling and W. Volleyball are #1 in the country, Bill O'Brien is Big Ten Coach of the Year (no doubt because of his and the players commitment to each other) and we are approaching another February where students will dance for 46 hours to raise millions in the fight against pediatric cancer. This just scratches the surfa
ce of Penn State. I hope with each accomplishment the haters and critics feel a bit more idiotic about things that were said over the last year and I have no doubt students and alumni will grow prouder and become more "obnoxious" to the outsiders. But, who knows, I hear its all about football at that school..."

2. Thanksgiving. We had a very enjoyable trip to Boston to visit Matt's family. Although we were nervous about what airport travel could bring, everything went very well and the flights and airports were all that packed in my opinion.

3. School. The BES bears are restless! I typically have lots of events the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it has been quite busy in the mental health department. I might have to pull out my direct access to Santa ASAP. Did you guys know that Santa can listen through the intercom in every classroom?!? This is probably not PC.

4. Christmas. Today we got all of our decorations up. And this Thursday I am going to the National Tree Lighting. My friend at work had an extra ticket and invited me...we have actual seats. I will get to see Michelle, Sasha, and Melia's outfits up close and personal! Pictures to come!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I haven't blogged a whole lot about Girls on the Run this season, but I can assure you it's nothing you haven't heard about good old GOTR before. This picture is from our 5K last Sunday. This is pre 5K. It was FREEZING. Can you tell from looking at the picture? I think everyone was entirely too frozen to smile or even look amused. Grown-ups included.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

I guess we could call this the Thanksgiving edition. I love case you hadn't heard. Last  weekend I decided we needed to have a 709 Thanksgiving with my favorite sides. We are going to Boston this year to spend Thanksgiving with Matt's family and I knew I would miss some of my favorites, and since I like to cook, we decided to have a pre-Thanksgiving. We made our turkey (obviously) and garnished it with butter, lemon, and rosemary. I also made the best stuffing known to man. Seriously, I hated stuffing until I tried this recipe, and of course cheesy potatoes and green bean casserole. If you do nothing else this Thanksgiving, make the stuffing.

You can find the recipe for the stuffing {HERE}. I blogged about it last Thanksgiving as well. 

For the Green Bean Casserole...
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. black pepper
18oz. frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 1/3 cups French Fried Onions

Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions. Bake at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot. Remove from oven, stir, and top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

For the Potatoes:
4 cups frozen hash browns
1 7.6oz. packages butter and herb mashed potato mix
1 stick butter softened
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups boiling water
2 cups french fried onions

Preheat oven to 350. Boil frozen hash browns for 5 minutes and drain. In a large bowl mix hash browns, potato mix, butter, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, salts, and pepper. Stir in boiling water. Place mixture in casserole dish. Bake 35-45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with onions and extra cheese. Cook 5-8 more minutes and serve. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Save Thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. I think it's probably my favorite holiday. I'm starting to think poor Thanksgiving gets zero respect. Halloween (in my opinion, the worst holiday of all time) is more of a production than Thanksgiving. Take Target for example...they have entire sections for Halloween decor, costumes, candy, etc and then even before Halloween happens those same sections convert to Christmas EVERYTHING. Now look at Pinterest. COVERED in Christmas babies, Christmas crafts, Christmas foods, Christmas decor. Someone has to like Thanksgiving as much as I do.

So I got to thinking and of course now I have a theory...maybe if everyone cared a little more about Thanksgiving (and not the black Friday shopping associated) the world would be better. Ok, yes, I'm getting a little out of control at this point, but seriously. Maybe if we were all a little more thankful for what we have instead of getting all that candy the month before, or thinking about what to get everyone under the sun the month after, Christmas might even be a little nicer. I mean really, how many times have you been to the mall and wanted to fight someone in the parking lot before you even make it into the stores? Now that's the Christmas spirit.

Now don't get me wrong. I love Christmas too, but people get out of control. All I'm saying is that maybe we should throw it back Plymouth, Massachusetts style this year. Remember all that we already have to be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Spend time with the people you love instead of running out at 8:00 ON Thanksgiving to buy them something. Just a thought.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I originally posted this on November 22nd last year. It is our engagement post. I never liked the formatting of it so a few months ago I was trying to fix it and accidentally deleted the post. I tried everything to retrieve it, but it was gone for ever. A few days later Matt found a copy of it that he had saved to Google Reader. YAY! So anyway, I am reposting it so that it can be found on the blog. Also...I still don't like the formatting, but I'm working through it.

Oh, First Grade! Please look carefully and read their notes, or their spellings of Flaherty.

As I am sure you have all read on Facebook, we're engaged! Last Friday, on 11.11.11, Matt asked me to marry him. I will try to make a short version of the story here.

Trying to take our own pic right after

Last Thursday I was really not feeling well. Matt had class and I was at home laying on the couch when he started texting me that we should get up early the next morning to go into DC and check out the new MLK memorial. This is when I knew something was up since Matt NEVER gets up early. I said I really wanted to sleep in because I wasn't feeling good and then hopefully we could go when I woke up if I was feeling good. Matt finally agreed to this plan after some serious back and forth debate.

So Friday morning we got up and got ready and drove into DC. We looked at dear MLK and then Matt said he wanted to go to the Einstein memorial next. I also thought this was weird since it was kinda far away, its not really popular, and I was having trouble breathing since it was cold and I still wasn't feeling that great. I also had teased him a few months before saying I knew he would propose there. But I decided to not put up a fight or ask any questions. So we got to Einstein and there were other people there so Matt started stalling. Then finally he handed me an envelope. The letter inside said that we were going on a mystery ride and I shouldn't ask any questions, he had planned a date. So we walked all the way back to the car and started driving west.

The view from the spot

We started taking exits for Skyline Drive. I started feeling worse so we had to stop for some medicine and water. This is when Matt told me one of the things we were going to do on the date was have a picnic. I asked if he brought any food. He said yes, but we might need to upgrade it across the street at Sheetz (I LOVE sheetz). Turns out Matt had bought food the night before and left it in the car over night trying to hide it from me. I'm glad we upgraded. So we got back on the road and it felt like we were driving FOREVER. After asking him if he was planning to kill me and bury me in the country or starve me to death we finally made it to Skyline Drive. (Sidenote: I will ALWAYS be in charge of directions). Matt asked the lady for a good spot to picnic. She looked at us like we had two heads since it was so so cold. We started driving through the park and Matt was passing every overlook and picnic ground still looking for a place with a good view. I finally had enough because I was starving and told him he had to pull over at a place called The Point. It ended up being perfect. We walked down a little trail and there were two big rocks that looked out over the mountains and that's where he proposed. Obviously, I said YES!

We stayed in New Market for the night. This is where I found out Matt had brought a can opener to open a bottle of wine. It ended up being a little bit of a rough night. I woke Matt up at 7:00 AM. I'm sure he was thrilled. I made him drive me back to Northern Virginia to go to Urgent Care where I found out I had Bronchitis, double ear infections, and a sinus infection. Definitely a memorable weekend!

Finally found someone to take our picture


I thought it would be interesting to write my version and then have Matt write one to see how they compare. Know that we did not read each other's at all before this post. And how for a blogging first...a guest Blog by Matthew, himself.

Our engagement was filled with excitement, embarrassment, adventure, stress,
accomplishment and most of all love! Here is my perspective of how things happened.

After much thinking and planning I thought I had come up with a fairly straightforward
plan. First, I would take Erin to the Einstein Memorial just off the National Mall because
this is where we had “The Talk” and first started being boyfriend/girlfriend. Originally I
had planned on proposing there however after consulting with some friends and
realizing Erin had already figured that out I knew I had to step it up a little. So I decided
to use the Einstein Memorial as a red herring. I would take Erin there but this would only
be the beginning. I would then take her on a “mystery ride” to Shenandoah National
Park. This seemed straight forward enough but I did not account for the many
unexpected events that sprang up including the Penn State scandal, Erin being sick,
and the temperature taking a nose dive.

My whole plan was based on having it be a surprise so I had to wait until Erin was
sleeping to do most of my preparation. After arriving home from my Reconstruction
class I had a snack and kissed Erin goodnight. Then it was time to go to work. I first
snuck in our bedroom to try to get a change of clothes for both me and Erin because I
had booked a hotel room for Friday night. I snuck in the bedroom and was going to get
Erin’s things when I heard her tossing and turning and she even woke up and asked me
what was I doing? This kind of freaked me out so I decided to get my stuff and pretend
like I was just getting ready to take a shower. I went back a little while later and made
sure to be extra quiet. Erin did not get up this time but I face another problem. It was
pitch black and I realized I have absolutely no idea how Erin organizes her bureau.
After a couple of minutes of feeling around I finally got her clothes. I then went
downstairs to the Condo office to write a letter I planed to give Erin when we got to the
Einstein Memorial. Then I went down to the storage unit to get a cooler I planned to put
a sandwich in for the next day. This turned out to be not the best part of my plan. I also
got a blanket to hide all the items in the trunk of my car. After all this I thought I was
pretty well set.

I went to bed exhausted but feeling under control. This quickly changed when I woke
up and realized I had brought wine and no wine opener. So while Erin was in the
shower I got the wine opener and brought it down to my car. Erin was not feeling well
so even though I asked her to get up early she, understandable, slept in until about 9
a.m. and was not moving the quickest. After some breakfast we were ready to go.

Fortunately, Erin wanted to see the New Martin Luther King Memorial so I had a
explanation for getting to the mall. I decided we had to drive even though Erin said we
should take the metro. This was a necessary decision but did not work out that well
because there was no parking. We had to park a long way off, which did not help my
cause of moving things along. The MLK Memorial was pretty impressive. I especially
liked the quotes. I think my favorite one was True peace is not merely the absence of
tension: it is the presence of justice." (16 April 1963, Birmingham, AL). After we
were done I suggested that we go to the einstein Memorial and without batting an
eyelash Erin says okay. As I suspected, Erin was on to this idea. It was getting
cold and Erin was not feeling well so it was a slow walk. On our way we saw the
Vietnam Day services as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. When we got to
Einstein I gave Erin the note and she gave me a look like “WTF”, Success!!! As I
found out later she knew about Einstein but nothing else.

The drive was nice, it was a sunny day and there was not much traffic. Everything was
going great until we decided to pull over for some cough drops. This was good and bad
at the same time. It was good because right next to the CVS we stopped at was a
Sheetz. I knew Erin loved Sheetz and I was having second thoughts about the food I
had packed so I revealed that my secret involved a picnic so we should get some
Sheetz. The bad part was that I had to reveal my poor planning involving the sandwich,
which I am sure I will not hear the end of for a long time! This also gave me the chance
to get the ring I had hidden in the trunk and put it in my jacket pocket in preparation for
the big event.

On our way home it took us about 2 hours to get home. This definitely was not the case
on the way to Shenandoah. I am a big Google fan but my Google directions failed me
this time. Instead of going on the direct route that involved a highway with a speed limit
of 70 mph we were going through the back country of VA. It was beautiful scenery but it
was stressing me out because of all the previous delays the sun looked like it was
almost going to go down and I definitely did not want to propose in the dark. I drove
probably a little faster than I should have and finally got to the gate.

To my great delight it was a free weekend so we did not have to pay to enter the park.
We also talked to the park ranger because I realized I did not know where in
Shenandoah I was going to propose. I asked her about picnic areas since that was my
ploy but she said the only picnic areas were deep in the woods, which was not what I
was thinking about. We drove along Skyline drive which had some spectacular views
and there were many overlooks that could have potentially been good spots. However,
it seemed like they were either too close to the road, had to many people, or did not
have a good view. We did not eat since breakfast and it was getting to be about 5
oclock so finally Erin said she had to eat soon. I also thought I was going to run out of
overlooks so just decided to stop at the next one. At first site it did not look to be good
because it was right next to the road. However, it had a trail that led to a fantastic spot
on a ledge overlooking the mountains and the sun was still in sight!!!!!

It was freezing cold by the time we got to the ledge so before Erin had a chance to put
down the picnic supplies I grabbed her hand and went down on one knee. I told her
how much i loved her because of her great family, how she is funny, looking towards the
future, and always has patience with all my eccentricities. I told her about how about 3
years ago was driving down to DC from Massachusetts and not knowing what to
expect. I would have never expected meeting and falling in love with a beautiful, strong,
and overall awesome girl, but I did. So I asked her to marry me and she said Yes!!!!!

We took some pictures and decided it was a good idea to go back in the car to eat our
food. We called our family members to tell them the good news and then started to
drive to the hotel. This turned out to be quite an adventure because on the twisty road
we spotted literally about 20 dear, luckily there were no collisions. After putting our stuff
in the hotel and taking a break we searched for a restaurant that was still open at about
10 o'clock. Luckily there was one, The Italian Job, which was the only restaurant
besides McDonalds that was open in the whole town.

The next day Erin showed me a much faster way to get back. However, I guess, thanks
to being out in the cold Erin was feeling worse and we had to make a stop at the urgent
care where Erin was prescribed 6 different medications for having a ear, synus, and
throat infection. Not the best way to start out our first day of being engaged. We got
home in time to watch the Penn State Nebraska game, take a shower, and a nap.

Overall, not everything went as planned but I am very happy with the result. Erin and I
are now engaged!! Good thing I have Erin to help me plan the wedding!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
This is another recipe from my Wedding Cookbook. This one is by my Aunt Jackie. I did alter it a bit, though. I get freaked out by certain types of I will only eat chicken breasts, no thighs involved so I had to cut that. I also cut out a few steps due to laziness. Like this was started on the stovetop and ended in the crock pot, but I was only feeling crock pot cooking this day so I crossed my fingers and figured it would all work out. I topped the sandwiches with bleu cheese crumbles and I also stirred some bleu cheese and light sour cream together to make a little veggie/chip dip. You can see it in the background there. This is also one of my dishes that produced quite a bit of leftovers so you might want to adjust the amount of ingredients you use based on how much or how little you want.

4 chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red pepper, diced
14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup Frank's Red Hot (I put A LOT in, the original recipe called for 1/3 cup)
3 Tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. yellow mustard

Add all ingredients except chicken to crock pot and stir together. Add chicken breasts and cover with sauce mixture. Cover and cook on high 4 hours, or low for 6-8. Shred chicken and season with salt and pepper. Serve on buns.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

There is currently a heated debate going on in 709. It's actually not about the election, but that's always a fun topic around here too. I hope you can sense my sarcasm in that last statement. More on that in the next paragraph. The hotter topic is PUPPIES! I love dogs. I want one so bad. Matt is not having it. Last week I was so in love with this puppy named Shiloh from Lost Dog and Cat Rescue I thought if I didn't get him I was going to cry. Well since then Shiloh is no longer on the website, and I am no closer to dog ownership. Stupid marriage vows. I thought maybe taking Matt to hold puppies might work. So I threatened (sort of an empty threat due to some small circumstances we won't get into right now...aka that whole lease I signed) to go to PetSmart last Saturday and buy a dog. Well Matt decided he should come too (so I didn't buy anything and bring it home). We held a puppy and Matt didn't care. So annoying. Any tips on how to talk Matt into getting a dog? I have tried every argument you could ever think of, seriously.

I voted today! Yay! Voting is sort of exciting...I think it's only exciting when voting for the president, though. I'm very unpolitical, however, I am married to someone VERY political. I have to listen to a lot of ranting, and naturally my personality loves to just get Matt going so I pretend to be a Republican one day and a Democrat the next. Sadly, the Commonwealth of Virginia somehow found out about my antics (probably cause I'm a registered Independent) and sends me a lot of mail from every candidate there ever was to try to win my vote. The truth is I just like the election cause I love maps and being in a swing state. I just hope they still have my Abby Lee dance show on tonight. I'm slightly concerned how Matt will deal if his BFF Barack doesn't win. I think I'm in for a long night.

Also...random thought...I know there was a whole hanging/pregnant/swinging chad problem in 2000, and there's been a lot of technological advances since the early days of voting, but don't you guys think we should still use those voting booths with the levers? I've been complaining about this all week. I feel like that would be so much more exciting than filling out a scantron, or using a touch screen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Frankenstorm Update

Did anyone else notice that once the storm arrived it was Sandy and not Frankenstorm? That was something I contemplated yesterday during my boredom. Wonder why? Maybe cause they wanted people to take it seriously? Well now that Sandy the Frankenstorm has passed I can say we survived. We are counting our was really pretty much a non-event here in 709. I kinda feel like the derecho storm that we got in late June was more damaging than Sandy. I know other areas weren't as lucky.

We never lost power, it flickered a few times, and I had my bedroom window open the whole time. In case you are wondering's because 709 is always at a tropical climate, even when it snows outside. I made a lot of baked goods. And we have a lot of water storage. The best part? No school or work for Matt and I yesterday and today. I actually did some online shopping for Christmas. Now I need to leave the house at some point.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Pumpkin Roll
You might remember my dislike for everything pumpkin. Well, I'm still attempting to try to like it...29 nine years later. You might also remember last year when I attempted two pumpkin recipes in effort to foster my love. I made progress with these amazing cookies. They are officially still my only pumpkin love. It was my team's turn at school to make birthday breakfast last Friday. I made the pumpkin cookies and added this pumpkin roll this year.

Another story behind the pumpkin roll. It is a recipe from the Stere Family. My friend Sarah, who I use to work with at BES before she was lucky enough to move back to PA, put together a cookbook for Matt and I as a wedding gift. She sent out a letter to everyone invited to the wedding and asked them to submit a recipe. She put them all together in a book. It has been awesome to look through and get ideas from. Isn't she great?!?

And here is her recipe:


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup flour

8 oz. cream cheese
4 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered suga
1/2 tsp vanilla

Generously grease a 9x13 cookie sheet with sides. Combine all roll ingredients and spread mixture in pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately flip upside down on wax paper. Roll up with paper in roll. Cool 45 minutes. Unroll and spread with filling. Roll again and refrigerate.

The Cookbook
A note from Sarah
The letter she sent asking for recipes!

Friday, October 26, 2012


So I'm totally screwed. Once again, I will believe it when I see it. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Chicken-Peanut Stir Fry
1 cup rice
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
2 olive oil
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and thinly sliced
2 buches of bok choy
1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts

Cook the rice as the label directs. Meanwhile, whisk 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon each cornstarch and rice vinegar in a bowl; add the chicken and toss to coat. Whisk the brown sugar, 1/3 cup water and the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon each soy sauce and rice vinegar in a small bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Wipe out the skillet, return to high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. When it begins smoking, add the scallions and jalapeno; stir-fry 45 seconds. Add the bok choy and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the brown sugar mixture and add to the pan along with the chicken; stir-fry until the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the scallion greens and peanuts. Serve with the rice.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Yep. Target opened. It was the highlight of my weekend. I went twice. Seriously. This is like no Target I have even been to either. It has it's own parking garage and the store is on the 4th floor, which makes trying to leave with a cart all the more interesting. Have you ever seen a cart escalator? I have. All this excitement and then I came home and scrubbed my bathtub with Borax and ate dinner from the crock pot.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random Thursday Business

I haven't really written about anything good lately. I feel like life is so boring after my awesome, eventful summer, and having to do that whole day job thing. Recently, I have been trying to figure out how to become a coupon queen, trying some new recipes, and maybe wanting a new hobby.

I really want to use my crock pot more. It seems like it could potentially save a lot of time and you still get a hot meal. You also end up with leftovers which is great for Matt taking food to class. Apparently this is also a very budget friendly way to make meals. Which brings me to my next extravaganza. Matt and I are trying super hard to save money these days. Therefore, I really want to turn into a coupon queen, but that's just too hard for two main reasons. A. I actually care what I eat and can't possibly buy whatever is on sale, and B. Couponing is pretty much a full-time job, especially if you want to be a queen, and we all know my desperate housewife job application was denied. So my questions to you you have any good crock pot recipes? Do you know any creative ways to save money?

As for the new hobby...I already have bowling, which is a post for another day, but I need something that's either far less expensive than bowling and/or profitable. I like making and other things as well. I also need to get back into reading. That suddenly came to a halt at the end of August with the rest of my leisure time. Any thoughts on this are also greatly appreciated.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Crispy Parmesan Paprika Oven Fries
This is a recipe I tried over the summer when we were grilling all the time. Note the hamburger in the background. I always want to make fries like this, but I feel like they never turn out right. And cutting potatoes can be a pain. This actually went pretty well though. I decided not to worry if the shapes weren't perfect and that helped. I would do it again.

2 large baking potatoes
Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pat the potatoes dry and cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Turn each slice flat and slice again lengthwise into even 1/2-inch-thick fries. Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, seasoning and salt. Toss well to combine, then transfer the fries to a large baking sheet and arrange them in one even layer so that they are not touching. Roast, scraping the potatoes from the baking sheet with a spatula and turning them over halfway through, until golden brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with desired amount of salt, cheese, and paprika. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Would Like to See the Counselor

Sadly, the counselor has been informed that it is not permissible to become a trophy wife at age 29...she still has to go to work everyday. Until desperate housewife status comes, at least I get these special notes in my mailbox on occasion. Maybe then I can go to Starbucks and Jimmy Johns and have my biggest worry be about when Honey Boo Boo comes on. I'll start hoping to win the lottery.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

Greek Salad Skewers
So can you tell this was my first food photography with my new camera? It makes my food look so much more appetizing. I took these to a Labor Day picnic with the fabulous 5th grade team at my school. I think they are delicious and obviously they are super easy...the hardest part is getting the feta on the skewer without it crumbling to pieces. You can also put any leftovers on some lettuce and there you have a Greek salad. I made my own vinaigrette, but I'm sure you can buy some Greek dressing from the store if you want.


grape tomatoes
feta cheese, cut into (1/2-inch) cubes
pitted kalamata olives
red or sweet onion, cut into (1/2-inch) pieces
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
wood skewers

2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the Skewers: Thread the skewers starting with a tomato, then a piece of feta cheese, an olive, a piece of onion and finish with another tomato.

For the Vinaigrette: In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar and oregano. Whisk in the olive oil until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the skewers on a serving platter. Spoon the vinaigrette over the skewers and sprinkle with the chopped oregano.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Remember This?

This reminds me of that first grade teaching objective about yesterday and today. If you have followed my blog since the get go your may recall my occasional mention of the construction I live in the midst of every. single. day. Well it's finally coming to a close. I looked back through my blog and found a few pictures of the progress that I have accidentally documented. I feel like maybe my little blog might be featured in a history book someday of the evolution of the Dunn Loring-Merrifield area. 

From February 2011

May 2011
August 2011
August 2011

The pictures I have a from documenting the occasional weather event (what a snow day in VA looks like, the city garden, and that hurricane that came through last summer) on the blog. I have to say the construction has been ridiculously annoying being that it could be 2am, 7am, or 8pm and it would still be happening, but we will have bars and restaurants in our backyard now. And while this project is finishing up there is still much more going on... thankfully on the other side of the building. Apparently we are getting a grocery store and some other stuff over there. And then at the next intersection down a TARGET! I'm so excited about that one. That project will also be accompanied by more restaurants and some retail I believe. So my conclusion...I will be able to say I live in Merrifield when it only had an H-Mart and a Rite Aid. 

September 2012
September 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Recipe of the Week!

No Bake Granola
Here is a very low maintenance recipe. I made a whole bunch of these before we went to Hawaii. My intention for them was to serve as some travel snacks. Well...that worked for the way to the airport. These aren't exactly travel friendly and had I actually thought it all the way through I should have figured that out pre-travel halfway around the world. Anyway, these are pretty good and freeze very well. I would totally make them and eat them for snacks or breakfast at home.

Ingredients (for about 12):

2 large overripe bananas
1 cup oats
1/2 cup crunchy cereal
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp dried cranberries
2 – 4 tsp cocoa powder

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Mash the bananas. Add wet ingredients and cocoa powder and mix well. Add all other ingredients, mix well then press into prepared muffin tin. Freeze at least 60 minutes before serving. Eat soft or frozen, or somewhere in between!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Alive

Oh, September. You're back. Blogging has been scarce. I would say September has really hit me hard this year. It's always a little tough to get back in the swing of things, but after a whirlwind summer, a fabulous wedding, and a dream vacation, September is even harder. And you know who doesn't care? Public education.

We have been back for two weeks. The first two weeks are like herding kittens. At my day job I currently run, sweat, try not to yell, make sure people eat their lunch. It's glamourous, really. September at least usually comes with the fall air...something unforeseen the first week of school, and football. Well so far football has been slightly painful. There were some redeeming games this weekend, however. So maybe things are looking up.

Things are looking up here on my scarcely updated blog too. I will return with recipes of the week this week. I also have stories to share about my new found pastime...bowling. And I'm sure that I will have a fabulous BES story or two to share as well.

For now, though, I will tell you about my weekend adventure. Yesterday was my birthday. We went to Cirque Du Soleil's TOTEM. It was my first time to a Cirque Du Soleil performance. It was so cool! Those people can't be human. Afterward's we went to 2 Amy's for dinner. I got the margherita pizza which was awesome. Matt and I decided they have the best pizza crust. I thought the whole pizza was fab, though. Which leads me to my next discussion...who has the best pizza in DC? Matt and I had an enthralling conversation on the best pizzas. We LOVE Mad Fox's Fig and Balsamic Blues. And then the 2 Amy's, but what's your favorite?

Tell me what you think, and I will be back this week with a recipe (not pizza, though :)

Monday, September 3, 2012


View from our balcony.

How is summer over? So unfair. I guess I am trying to hang on to the last bit of it by posting about our honeymoon. Matt and I had a wonderful time on our honeymoon in Hawai'i. I wish there was somewhere like it closer so we could just go anytime we wanted. We had a good mix of adventure and relaxation. We also had some nearly serious mishaps. I lit myself on fire...sustaining only a burn on my arm and some seriously singed hair. Matt had an allergic what we still aren't really sure. And I lost the rental car keys, but luckily got them back soon thereafter.

Red Sand Beach on the Road to Hana
On to the more exciting things. We used the guidebook Maui Revealed all the time. I had never used a guidebook really, but this thing was AMAZING. It had tons of hidden spots mapped out, all the best places to eat (that actually ended up being the best), and literally covered everything. I would highly recommend Maui Revealed to everyone. The best meals we ate were local food. Seriously if I could have one thing from Hawaii it would be the food. Everything is so fresh and so delicious. I ate so much Ahi Poke, fresh fish in general, and Hawaiian lunch plates it was borderline out of control. It was hard to go back to cooking most nights when we got back.
Haleakala Summit
Haipau'ena Falls on the Road to Hana

As for adventures we drove to the summit of Haleakala for sunrise and traveled the Road to Hana. Definitely some of the most scenic parts of the trip as well as the most adventurous. We did a small drive around West Maui doing a couple of hikes and a lot of snorkeling. We actually did a lot of snorkeling in general...once with a whole bunch of sea turtles right outside our hotel. That was pretty awesome. They were huge! Of course we had a lot of beach time as well. I'm so sad it's over...I hope we can go back soon :)

Sunrise on Haleakala

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 12, 2012

First look. We chose to see each other before the ceremony. Highly recommend.

Watching guests arrive before the ceremony.
It's really hard to sum up your wedding day in a blog post. I also don't want to go on and on and on. So I will try to keep it simple. Everything went wonderfully! All the minor (maybe even sometimes major) meltdowns beforehand were worth it because everything went so smoothly that weekend. Instead of rehashing the whole day and citing my imfamous timeline (which we actually stayed on, or were ahead of schedule I would like to note), I think I will stick to a THANK YOU post (with a lot of pictures). We have so many people to thank... our parents who helped to and provided to us a celebration that we will remember for a lifetime. Our fabulous bridal party, especially my sister and brother-in-law who held the whole thing together and all of our generous and wonderful guests who travelled to be with us for our special day.


There are also a few beyond amazing vendors that made of day truly special. Andy Booth is not only Pittsburgh's best DJ, but also such a super nice guy. Michael Williams and his wife Jennifer of Michael Will Photography who were the coolest photographers ever and helped the day to go extra smoothly. I can't wait to see the pictures. The people at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory who thankfully are more type A than me. And then Maryanne Evankovich who literally saved the day with all my dress alterations! And Kelsey Reagan, my favorite cousin-in-law, who stayed up all night making a cake and cupcakes that were beyond what I could have ever imagined as perfect both visually and tastefully :) and Dee's florals who made my crazy hen and chicks love work into a wedding. And the Church Brew Works for hosting our rehearsal dinner and maybe making a few unwanted donations to our bridal party's kitchen cabinets. This is a lot of people now that I'm listing them all. Finally, Father Tom at Christ Church Fox Chapel who took us on and married us after THIS whole ordeal!

Checking out cupcakes!
Cupcakes by Kelsey!
Matt and I are so lucky to have such great people in our lives. We can never thank everyone enough for helping to bring the day of our dreams together. Now if only it didn't have to go so fast and we could do it all over again, it really would be perfect.
Our favors featuring both Pittsburgh and Boston