2012: a year in review

Just a look back at 2012...
In January, I attempted the vegan thing, I hosted a friends Christmas, we celebrated Tanya's birthday 80s style, and the Hubs turned twenty-seven.

In February, I celebrated turning twenty-five a few times and did a little traveling for work.

In March, I traveled a decent amount for work, we celebrated St. Patty's Day, and I luckily had a mini-spring break.

In April, we celebrated Easter, we tried a few new restaurants and I worked a lot of weekends.

In May, I did the Around the World Embassy Tour, celebrated Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, said goodbye to some of our senior student workers, and had a great Memorial weekend with friends and family.

In June, I went to Arlington to celebrate Alissa's birthday, headed back to school for Alumni weekend, hosted my grandfather and Kim for a weekend, and then Alissa came to visit and we had a food-filled time.

In July, I was sick for the Fourth but I was able to head to St. Michael's that weekend to spend time with Tanya. I also helped throw a bridal shower at work for Gracie, my cousins came to visit and the Hubs graduated from his work class.

In August, Gracie got married and I tried to get a bit of relaxing in before work got crazy in the fall. I also started CrossFit.

In September, we celebrated Kathy and Niki's birthdays, the Hubs and I celebrated our seven year dating anniversary, I traveled almost all month for work, I got to see Jenny in DC, and Ruth and Seth got married. 

In October, I traveled a bit more for work, my mom turned fifty, Nick and Sarah got married, the Hubs and I had our two-year wedding anniversary, and we went to California!

In November, we celebrated Ken and Sharon's wedding, we tried to do a little relaxing, we did Thanksgiving Italian-style, I got to see Laura and Joanna, and we went to see the boat parade.

In December, I got to see a few of my college friends, we went to Chrissy and Devin's annual Christmas party, we had a few relaxing weekends at home, I got to go to CrossFit more regularly since I wasn't traveling for work as much, and we had a wonderful family-filled Christmas. 

2012 really flew by and I can't wait to see what 2013 brings. What was your favorite part of 2012?


weekend: grandparents and old friends

just a little photoshoot with my grandparents . . . in the middle . . . fire pit
a little inspiration for the coming week:

i want to live here

how to correctly remove a blemish

do you need a little NYE outfit help?
Friday, I made a few soups to freeze for the Whole30 and I did a bit of laundry. After CrossFit, the Hubs and I went to see Les Misérables. I absolutely loved it and, although the Hubs was bored out of his mind, he proceeded to sing instead of talk for the rest of the night.

On Saturday, we were up early to head to my grandparents. We hung out for a bit and then went to lunch at the Macaroni Grill. After a quick stop at Trader Joe's, we said our goodbyes and came back to Salisbury. After dinner, we drove to Ocean Pines since some of the Hubs' college friends were in town. We sat outside by the fire pit and then I learned how to play Apples to Apples over a few ciders.

Today, we slept in, went grocery shopping and went to lunch. After doing a bit more laundry and cleaning up the house a bit, we relaxed and I proceeded to eat way too many cookies that my grandmother had sent us home with.

How was your weekend?


a bit of my winter break

this should be snow . . . with the hubs on christmas eve . . . antlers on peyton . . . a comfy outfit for christmas day . . . bloody mary's for breakfast . . . my in-laws christmas tree . . . opening some wine before dinner . . . carving the turkey . . . peyton is very interested in how to carve a turkey . . . dinner candles . . . our meal . . . celebrating a birthday . . . outlet shopping
On Monday morning, my SIL and I got a manicure and pedicure. After that, we had lunch with the Hubs and her boyfriend. Then we got ready and headed over to the in-laws for a glass of wine. After that, we went over to the Hub's godparents for dinner and a get-together. 

On Christmas day, we slept in and then headed over to the in-laws for a late breakfast. After breakfast we opened presents and then hung out for a bit. We had a nice big dinner and then we celebrated my MIL's birthday. She gets cheated with having her birthday that day so dessert is always a birthday cake and we open her presents separately. 

On Wednesday, I headed to the Rehoboth outlets to do a bit of shopping. I really lucked out with the deals and got myself a decent amount of clothes for work and a new purse. After I got home, I went to CrossFit.

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping and then spent a lot of the day cooking a bunch of Whole30-friendly meals to freeze for "emergencies." After that, I took a nap and then headed off to CrossFit. 

What did you do for Christmas? Do you get a few extra days off from work?


the whole 30 january challenge

I have talked about eating Paleo here on the blog but I actually have never done the Whole30. After all of the holiday junk and feeling weighed down and just plain icky, I think it is time. So, starting on January 1st, right when the clock strikes midnight, I will be starting the Whole30.

Basically, during the Whole30, you are eating very strict Paleo - no cheats! It is supposed to detox your body of sugar and those processed food cravings so you can follow the Paleo lifestyle more easily. 

I am not going to lie: over the past two weeks, I have been eating crap. I think it is going to be very difficult for my body to readjust but it is going to be worth it. 

While my SIL was here the past few days for the holiday, she noticed my It Starts With Food book lying around and picked up. She was so impressed by what she has read so far that she is actually going to do the Whole30 with me. She also suggested we check in with each other daily through email to keep each other on track. The Hubs is going to do it with us as well.

But I wanted to give you the opportunity to have a support group too if you are going to do the Whole30. Every Thursday through January, I will post about my progress as well as provide a link-up for all of you. If you are a blogger, post about your experience and link-up. If you don't have a blog, you can comment on my post to let us know about your progress.

To learn more about the Whole30, visit the website. You can also look back on some Paleo posts I have written here. In order to be successful, you need to do a little planning.

Who wants to join in and start the new year off right?


merry christmas!

Just wanted to wish all of you a very merry Christmas! I will be spending the day at the in-laws' house with the Hubs, his parents, his sister, her boyfriend, and, of course, the pup. 

What are you doing for Christmas?


weekend: almost christmas

mistletoe . . . the in-laws' tree . . . with my SIL . . . walking the pup . . . a lasagna dinner
a little inspiration for the coming week:

hey new moms: stop being so hard on yourselves 

a few moments to restore our faith in humanity

this video is so touching

bizarre christmas cards

what six looks like
Friday night, the Hubs and I cleaned up the house and ran a few errands to prepare for Christmas. 

Saturday morning, I woke up early to make myself breakfast before CrossFit - and then fell back asleep and never made it there. When I woke up for the second time, I went for a run and then my SIL and her boyfriend got into town. After we went to lunch, I went and got a facial and then came home and did a little CrossFit WOD at home. For dinner, we went to Green Hill with my SIL, her boyfriend, and the Hubs' parents. Then we went over to their house for a drink.

Yesterday, I got up early to get a few things I had forgotten at the grocery store. The Hubs and I went to breakfast and then we came home and made a big lasagna. Afterwards, we went to lunch with my SIL and boyfriend and then we all watched football until we left for the in laws to eat the lasagna.

I am off this week from work and I am looking forward to all of the holiday festivities. How was your weekend?


my christmas wish list

There isn't too much I want for Christmas this year. The Hubs and I are not exchanging gifts. He  got me the wide angle lens that I wanted before we went to Napa and, since we are going to be shelling out a decent amount for CrossFit this year, we decided that was our gift to eachother. Besides asking our families for CrossFit, there were a few other smaller items I put on my wishlist.
1. I have added to my bracelet collection over the past year. Right now, they are just hanging out on my dresser but I would love a pretty tray to display them on.
2. I discovered Heath Ceramics while I was in San Francisco and fell in love. The price tag isn't cheap but the quality was wonderful and the items will last for years and years. It seemed silly to pack something so heavy in my bag to fly home when I could order online. I want everything from their shop. I have been lusting after their bud vases to put on my dresser.
3. I have been trying to add to my jewelry collection over the past few months. I really want a set of gold bangles like these from J. Crew. I also discovered the brand Fornash recently and love everything in their shop. I think it is time to add a few simple long necklaces to my collection.
4. Although there is a plethora of Paleo recipes online, there is nothing like having a cookbook to inspire. I really want a copy of Practical Paleo and  Paleo Slow Cooking.
5. The Hubs finally made me throw out my slippers a few weeks ago. They were gross and ratty - and now my feet are always cold. I really want a nice, comfy pair like these from L.L. Bean.

What is on your Christmas wish list this year?


chrissy's sausage balls

My friend, Chrissy, makes these for her holiday party every year. And, really, they are like my crack. Instead of eating all the yummy things at her party this year, I stood by the table and ate no less than twenty sausage balls.

And I love that every time I say sausage balls, I laugh. This is probably because I have the humor of a fifteen year-old boy. (I especially laughed when I typed out Chrissy's Sausage Balls.)

I made these a bit more Paleo-friendly by using almond flour and baking powder instead of the all-purpose baking mix the original recipe called for. Also, if you are planning to serve these right out of the oven, I think there is too much cheese. I would reduce the cheese by about a cup so they aren't as greasy. However, if you plan to make these the day before and nuke them before you serve them, like I did for my work party, the measurements of the cheese are just fine. (But I am sure if you still wanted to reduce the amount of cheese it would work too.)
makes about 70 balls

2 16 oz. packages of Original flavor Jimmy Dean pork sausage
1.5 c. almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. finely chopped celery
2 tsp. minced garlic
4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 1-inch balls. Place on a ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Let balls rest for 5 minutes before serving.



2012 holiday gift guide: stocking stuffers

1. Girls always like adding to their nail polish collection. Scotch Naturals are made with the highest quality ingredients and are toxin and paraben-free. Plus, they are biodegradable. 
2. I always have good hand cream in my purse. I hate when my hands are dry and lotions just don't cut it in the winter. I really want to get this Pharmacopia Organic Hand Cream. Since it is made with lavender, it can also help you fall asleep.
3. Socks can be boring stocking stuffers - if the socks are boring. I love fun socks and Happy Socks carries fun, bright, colorful patterns.
4. These Bike Clips are super cute and versatile. They can be used as prettier paper clips or bookmarks. 
5. My earbuds are always tangled, especially when I throw them into my purse. This Applecore Wrap keeps earbuds nice and neat. The ends are still accessible and the bright color keeps it from getting lost in a purse or gym bag. 
6. This glittery little pouch fits perfectly into a purse and holds hairspray, clear nail polish, nail polish remover, emery board, lip balm, earring backs, clear elastics, mending kit, safety pin, double-sided tape, stain remover, deodorant towelette, pain reliever, tampon, breath freshener, dental floss, and adhesive bandage.

And, of course, chocolate is always a nice thing to find in a stocking.

What is your favorite thing to find in your stocking?


weekend: getting ready for christmas

ready for christmas shopping . . . peyton's new christmas leash . . . chili for dinner on a cloudy day
Friday night, I came home, went for a run, and then we headed to Outback for dinner. I was reminded why I really dislike chain restaurants. My filet was very fatty and my shrimp was overcooked. At least our waiter was extremely nice and the wine was good. 

Saturday morning, I went to CrossFit. After lunch, the Hubs and I went to the grocery store. I wasn't feeling too great after that so the Hubs and I spent the afternoon snuggling with the pup and watching This Means War. After that, we headed all the way to West Ocean City so that I could go to the Calvin Klein outlet and get a dress for Christmas Eve. Come to find out, the outlet is now closed. So we headed to Carrabba's (the one chain restaurant I do enjoy) for an early dinner. After dinner, we headed to the bar at Ruth Chris for some wine and dessert. 

This morning, the Hubs left early for the Ravens game. I got up, did some laundry, and then went in search of a dress for Christmas Eve. I didn't have any luck so I will be shopping my closet. After doing a bit of cleaning, I went to Enza's to get my hair cut. The pup and I have been snuggling and catching up on Scandal.
I just wanted to take a moment to say how absolutely broken up I am about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning. It is heartbreaking to watch a community go through so much loss, especially the loss of children and those that protected them. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. 

Everything I did this weekend was conscious. I was grateful to wake up and make myself eggs in the morning. I was grateful to put a silly Christmas collar on Peyton. I was grateful to spend a nice evening with my husband. These are things these children will never get to do and these are things that these parents will never get to watch their children do. Let's honor them by being grateful for the little things that we get to do every day. 


2012 holiday gift guide: the dog

1. For the dog that likes to stay stylish while out and about, get this cute scarf
2. I always feel like I am getting Peyton the same stuff over and over again. With the BarkBox, you choose your dog size, choose a monthly plan, and you get a box of goodies delivered to your door. Plus, 10% of all proceeds go to a local shelter or rescue. Each month you get information of an organization that they are sponsoring.
3. Peyton is obsessed with Greenies. They are a little expensive so we don't get them all the time but they make her breath smell SO much better.
4. I love this collar with an engraved buckle. It is a nice change from the usual tag and you can them in a variety of colors.
5. Peyton has had the same bed for the past four years. She loves it but it is getting pretty ratty and there is barely any padding left. Since Peyton is getting older, I want to get her one of these ComforPedic Memory foam beds. I just need to find something with sides since she prefers those type of beds.
6. These Eco Tennis balls are perfect for a game of fetch. They are made of 100% natural rubber and have felt with 100% azo-free dyes. 

See the gift guide for the dog from two years ago here.

What are you putting in your pups stocking?


2012 holiday gift guide: the baby

1. Prints with baby animals would be the perfect addition to a new nursery. Get an extra large print for a dramatic effect or buy a few smaller ones for a mini gallery.
2. You know I love stripes but little striped baby booties make my heart swell. These booties are non-toxic, made from organically grown cotton - perfect for baby's skin.
3. I remember owning a Gund bear when I was little and loved it. It was little and pink and fat - and super soft. This precious Gund bear would be the perfect gift for baby to snuggle with as he or she grows.
4. I have seen these floating ducks a few times over the past few years and I love the modern look of them. Plus, they are much easier to clean since there aren't as many nooks and crannies. 
5. For the little one who loves being read to, this wooden book will hold up from any wear and tear.
6. Keep baby warm after their bath with this adorable owl robe.

You can see last year's gift guide for the baby here.

What would you buy for baby?


2012 holiday gift guide: the girly girl

1. Keep her dry on rainy days with this beautiful lace print umbrella.
2. Every girl needs a pretty catch-all to hold her everyday earrings and rings. This peony bowl comes in a variety of colors.
3. It is so hard to stay stylish when it is super cold outside. Keep her cute with these adorable bow gloves.
4. I love these gumdrop earrings by Kate Spade. I seriously want one in every color.
5. This jasmine bottle stopper would be a welcomed addition to any girly girl's bar cart.
6. Help your girl travel in style with these sparkly, pink pouches.

See last year's gift guide for the girly girl here.

What would you get for your girly girl?


2012 holiday gift guide: the kids

1. No need to go to the bowling alley when your little one has his own set of bowling pins. I love the old school look of these wooden pins and you can personalize them which only add to their charm.
2. For the little artist, get these natural beeswax crayons. They come with twenty-four different colors and are not toxic like normal crayons.
3. Philip the cat is crocheted by hand and is so dapper in his anchor slacks. 
4. Why not make the game of memory even more memorable by creating your own? All you have to do it upload your personal photos and they are mailed to your door. I think this would be especially great for the child with long distance family - just upload pictures of grandma and grandpa. 
5. Forget your traditonal rocking horse - Mocha the Monkey is much more fun. Your child will go bananas when they figure out Mocha plays music as well.
6. Keeping your kid hydrated is much easier and way more fun with this connectable drinking straw. Plus, clean up is easy since the straw breaks apart and is dishwasher safe.

You can see last year's gift guide for the kids here.

What kid-friendly gifts have you had your eye on?


2012 holiday gift guide: the tomboy

1. I love the mix of leather and cotton on this belt. It is fun and colorful while still being classic.
2. Keep your tomboy warm this winter with this quilted sherpa hat. I would love one in this olive green color that seems to go with everything.
3. A continuation of her best-selling book from thirty years ago, True Prep covers how to stay classy in the new world of cell phones, reality TV, and rehab. It touches on everything from clothing to food to money. 
4. Help her stay on time with the Timex Slip Thru Weekender watch. She can even change out her strap to match her belt in true prep fashion.
5. For the girl who likes to travel light, get her a magic leather wallet. It fits her cash, credit card, and license and still fits right into her back pocket.
6. So she can always find her keys, get her a colorful key fob. This one is made of beautiful Italian leather and comes in her fave color combination.

You can see last year's gift guide for the tomboy here.

What would you get for the tomboy?


weekend: putting up the tree

trimming the tree . . . christmas puppy
Friday night, I came home, went for a run and cleaned the bathrooms. The Hubs went out with some friends so I stayed in and relaxed. 

Saturday morning, I went to CrossFit and then went to the grocery store. After lunch, the Hubs and I came home, watched some TV, and then put up our Christmas tree while we listened to Christmas music. After that, we decided to try a new Italian place in town called Aqua. The mussels and my chicken jessica were so-so but the Hubs' chicken parmigana was excellent. I would go back for that.

This morning, I got up and cooked a bunch of food for our office's holiday food week. After lunch, I worked on some stuff I had brought home from work. This evening, I caught up on Homeland.  I can't believe there are only two episodes left.

How was your weekend? 


2012 holiday gift guide: for the francophile

It has been awhile since I did a francophile friday post so I thought today we would celebrate with a gift guide for the francophile in your life.

1. How chic are these French-inspired notecards? Featuring a 1960s girl with a topknot and polka dotted pajamas, they had me at bonjour!
2. For the francophile that loves to cook, get her this apron with a print of le metro.
3. I have professed my love for macarons many times here on the blog and I was so excited when I got to eat a few while I was in California. I would get two of this ornament, one in pink and one in green since my favorite flavors are framboise and pistache.
4. This lunch bag is eco-friendly and informative, not to mention cute.
5. Every francophile knows that a dash of red lipstick goes a long way. Why not treat her to one from Chanel?
6. Even if your francophile is not planning a trip to Paris any time soon, the book, The Markets of Paris, is still a wonderful browse-though. Foodies and shoppers alike can find a market for them. And a girl can dream...

If you need more ideas, you see more francophile gift guides from 2011 and 2010

What would you get for the francophile?


holiday party drink tags

I wanted to take a break from the holiday gift guides to share with you a cute idea for your next holiday party. My friends, Chrissy and Devin, used did this at theirs this past weekend. Chrissy made sure to tell me that it wasn't her idea - she found it on Pinterest. Gotta love Pinterest!
First, set up a table near the door with the Polaroid camera, ribbon, and a hole punch. Devin put out an example with his picture and a Santa hat for a prop. 
As guests walked in, Devin snapped a photo of them in front of the Christmas tree. Then the guests let their photos dry, punched a hole in them, and then tied them around their wine glasses or beers. It is such a fun alternative from the usual wine rings.
At the end of the night, a lot of guests left their tags to decorate our hosts Christmas tree but they also made great favors as well. 

This would work great for any type of party. If you are planning to have a large group, just leave a little sign with instructions.

What fun party ideas do you have for the holidays?

{Also, don't forget to check out my other work outfit on Nine to Five today!}