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 Thanksgiving...in 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 meat...like 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.