Gold Status...


If you know me at all, you know how I love rewards programs. I take great pride is being a loyal customers - and the perks that come with it. You have a loyalty card? I want it. I need it.

So, when Starbucks announced last year that they were upgrading their Starbucks Card program to be more of a loyalty program, I was on board. As a result of my "student" status, I didn't visit as much as I did when I was a full-time worker bee so gaining "GOLD" took a bit longer than anticipated. But.... I finally did it and as a result, I'm going to capitalize GOLD in this entire post.

Plus! They only give you one star for each visit - regardless of how much you spend in dollars or drinks. Fail. I would have had GOLD Status during the summer after all of the post-gym visits where I procured 2 Tazo Passion Ice Teas (one for me, one for a friendly face).

Reasons I'm excited to be GOLD status?
  • Free Drinks... I only have to buy 15 to get one. I do wish it was more like 10.
  • Customized membership card. In GOLD. Yes please sir.
In honor of this occasion, I might take this party to Starbucks for the afternoon and enjoy my free refill privileges and internet.

Hello fall .... in a dish.

I'm a huge fan of seafood - scallops and mussels are my favorites - and I love soup.

So when I saw this recipe in Women's Health magazine, I was on board instantly. The best part? I think the rest of the family will be on board as well.

Anticipated changes?
  • Since I have a giant weak spot for croutons/toasted bread/bread/carbohydrates.... I'm going to use the rest of my homemade Sourdough for some small croutons. Not everyone in the house loves scallops, so it'll be a great little add for them.
  • We have a family of 5 here, so I'm going to need to double the recipe.
Seared Scallops with Pumpkin Soup
Serves two people

12 oz fresh sea scallops
1 can (15 oz) unflavored pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp roughly chopped hazelnuts
8 to 10 chives, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Put it together:

  1. Toast chopped hazelnuts, either in the oven (10 minutes at 400°F) or on the stove in a stainless-steel saute pan.
  2. Combine pumpkin, honey, butter, and broth in a medium saucepan, and heat the mixture on low until it's warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep the mixture warm. 
  3. Preheat a cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper to taste. Add oil to the pan, and then add scallops. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they're firm, browned, and caramelized. 
  4. Pour soup into wide-rimmed serving bowls. Add scallops and hazelnuts, and garnish with chopped chives.

I'm Making Bread: Part TWO

So when I last left you, all I had was some yeast-y goodness percolating in my oven... and when I wasn't looking it "exploded".

Yep, a wee bit of fail there... but don't worry I just transferred it into a bigger bowl and went back to work.

When I woke up the following morning, I had predicted that I would have bread ready for a delicious BLT lunch.... not quite the case. Apparently, this lovely loaf of Sourdough required 2 more periods of "resting" - so the bread arrived a bit later in the day - but it still arrived none the less.

Here is the loaf after I added bread flour and let it rise for 90 minutes in the oven (again).

I gently kneaded down the dough from above into a perfect little ball with the "seams pinched" as per the directions. It then had to rise for YET ANOTHER HOUR.... sweet Jesus is this bread ever going to be ready?

Answer? Yes. It did finally finish and here is the evidence. I like to think its shaped a little bit like a heart because I made it with love ... yep thats corny. I know it. 

End result? 
  • The bread is pretty tasty - but not perfect. But since I have my "starter" all ready, the next loaf won't be a total effort in exercising patience.
  • I've had sourdough toast for the last two mornings - and it was super tasty - in part because I made it.
  • I think my next bread attempts will be a rosemary bread, an olive bread, and perhaps asiago because you doesn't love cheese?
Here is a link to the album - and I even did captions on a lot of them this time! 

So, we know I love maps...


I'm no interior decorator ... thats pretty obvious.

If I was... fyi, the new trend is stacks of moving boxes. I highly recommend Iron Mountain - they give it a little extra something.


When I do get the opportunity to fully personalize my living space, I'm certainly going to use maps. If you recall, I did a post in July all about my love of maps... and Etsy. I've gotten a lot of comments on my Minot and Martha's Vineyard pendants.

I saw an excellent post on Apartment Therapy that was ALL about decorating with maps. Some of the designs and rooms shown are a lot more obvious - where as I would be more comfortable with something perhaps a little more subtle.... but who knows :)

Images shown are from Apartment Therapy post
A recent pass through Etsy revealed a few new map favorites that I'd love to use / gift for special occasions ...
"You are Here Now" Poster
Vintage Map cufflinks
Map Cuff
State Cutting Board

Happy Birthday Google!


painted by Wayne Wayne Thiebaud. article link

Today is Google's Birthday.

I think for all the reasons that people are afraid of Google... I'm in love with Google. I love having all of my information in one place. I just checked and I have nearly every email I've sent since 4/23/05. Yep, thats right. If you sent it to me, I probably have it.

... and in honor of that special day.... I'm going to list 5 of my favorite Google Products ... and why. I'm not going to list Google Mail because that's just obvious - but if I was to say why it would be for some of the super awesome gadgets that are available like the "forgotten attachment detector".

Google Health. Have you ever really looked at what the Doctor diagnosed you with? Its pretty phenomenal. Plus, since there is no real centralized electronic medical record solution I have my own thanks to Google Health. Now, I don't think that this is the best of the Google products - but I do get a lot of use out of it.

Google Docs. If we are working on something together and I haven't sent you a google doc invite, then I'm probably not working on it. I'm kidddddding- kind of. I use Google Docs for everything from writing group papers in grad school to tracking my ebay sales. It was phenomenal knowing that I could always access the docs - and the improvements they've made in the last six months alone are incredible. The gap between using Microsoft products and online solutions like Google Docs is getting smaller and smaller.

Google Talk. Now, I know we all used to chat on AIM and some of us used Microsoft Messenger ... but Google Chat allowed us to shed the youth inspired names with 7 numbers and odd capitals in them and still talk to our friends. Plus, we can group chat ... or video chat ... and it will save all of the conversations ... and we know how I love to save history. (True confessions: sometimes I can get lost for 20 minutes - conservative estimate - in reading old emails and chats) New addition? You can now make actual phone calls from Google Chat. True Story, its how I ordered dinner in the Washington Dulles Hilton.

Google Voice. Besides email, this might be my favorite and most useful Google product. I transferred my voicemail from Verizon to Google - and now I never have to worry about have a full inbox. Also, all of my voicemails are transcribed so if I can't listen to the message, I can at least read it on my email. This is crucial in areas of bad cell reception since if you don't get the call, you probably aren't getting the message from your provider that you have a voicemail ... unless you have Google Voice then you can get the email. Plus, you can get a phone number for FREE. I give my Google voice number out to anyone that I don't want to have my actual cell number.... its perfect.

Google Calendar. The Family Calendar. Enough said. I love putting events in my calendar about as much as I love eating cheese. The same goes for linking to other calendars. My last MBA year was made a bit easier knowing that we had a team calendar and it was easily uploaded into each of our own personal calendars. With regards to the "family calendar" situation, my parents essentially refuse to learn how to link or add events to the Google calendar - yet my 11 year old brother has mastered the art of adding his Boy Scout camping trips.

A friend of mine actually coined/invented a term to describe people who love Google ... in a moderately unhealthy manner. The word is.... gsnob. Its so official that its on Urban Dictionary. But in the event you are lazy, here is a screenshot of the definition:

I admit I'm jealous that I haven't coined / invented a word and had it published myself.

So Happy Birthday Google. At 12 years old, you've really accomplished a whole lot ... and I can't wait to see what else you get accomplished as a pre-teen.

I'm making bread!

I have a soft spot for carbohydrates.

Particularly those that come in bread form ... and even more those that are freshly baked.

I spent the summer buying bread from French Memories in Cohasset - and believe me it was great. I'd say on average I bought a loaf and a half a week - so over the course of 3 months (June, July, and August for sake of the argument) I procured approximately 18 loaves from them. Now, at $3 a loaf that isn't crazy town ... but it certainly isn't cheap either. Especially when their Sourdough loaves are significantly smaller than the Traditional French Country... and I've bought enough to know the difference. I'm actually the FourSquare mayor of French Memories.

But, now that its getting cooler ... and the idea of spending some time in a warm kitchen isn't repulsive ... I'm going to make my own bread .... or at least give it a shot.

I did a quick Google search for "Easy Sourdough Recipes" and got this one from Emeril Lagasse. I made the starter today during lunch and now it is resting safely in my oven with the light on as indicated. Here are a few pictures so far:
the beginning of my "starter"
resting safely in the oven!
At this time tomorrow, I might even be noshing on some fresh bread!

I like romantic comedies...?

I like romantic comedies. I like happy, predictable endings. I want to know that Kate Hudson is going to end up in the arms of Matthew McConaughey. I go to great efforts to make sure that I watch movies that fit into this mold - and thankfully, the movie industry helps out with such classics as: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Runaway Bride, and Notting Hill. In fact, there is a solid list of "RomComs" as they are commonly called on the Wikipedia page. Check it.

Fun fact? I once got a friend to stop A Walk to Remember - you know the movie where Mandy Moore gets cancer - right before she gets cancer. Yep, to the rest of the world this is a sad movie... for me, LOVE STORY with a HAPPY ENDING.

So, it was shocking to me when I found the desire to see The Town with Ben Affleck. Yes, he's handsome for sure and that didn't hurt - but it had also gotten great reviews. The reviews didn't disappoint either, it was a really great movie.

I don't want to spoil it for any of you, so I'll leave you with a few tidbits:
  • Blake Lively was believable as a Charlestown young mother/druggie ... not that I really know what one would be like, but regardless. She was on point.
  • Jon Hamm .... hottie.
  • pretty descent ending... especially considering you know how I love fairy tales.
All in all. I'd highly recommend it. After all, you probably still want to give Ben Affleck a chance to redeem himself after dating Jennifer Lopez and tricking us all into watching Gigli.

Here is a clip in the event you were still wavering...

Making pasta!


One of the things on my list was to make your own pasta.

Now, I know I said I wanted to accomplish a lot of these before I went back to work but hey, beggers can't be choosers right?

Let's all ignore the fact that I spent my summer reading, sunning myself, tending to my garden, and drinking wine.... and that I had plenty of time to make pasta.

Moving on. Last Saturday night, I decided to make the grand attempt at pasta. To be clear, the attempt was completely fueled by an incredible blog post I stumbled upon when looking for dinner ideas. A Cozy Kitchen did a breathtakingly delicious post for Sweet Potato Ravioli.

My own pictures documenting my process don't even compare to ACK's but ... since we all know how much I love to document.... I'm still going to share them and hope you forgive this picture heavy post.

Can you believe that pasta is made with flour and water. FLOUR AND WATER. Nothing else.

Here is my beautiful ball of pasta dough!

The filling for the ravioli was freshly mashed sweet potato, with butter, bread crumbs, and tasty cheese ... and love. I put some love in there as well.  Doesn't it look delicious? (Say yes.)

 I've never been so great at rolling dough - and the fear of covering my parents kitchen in flour definitely added a small level of stress to the roll out. But after dividing the dough into two portions and going to town, we ended up with about 18 raviolis.

Ta-dah! Here is the finished product. Please don't compare them to the one's on ACK ... I wish I could blame the lack of beauty on wine consumption ... but I can't. I didn't have a single drop.

Into the pot you go.

The meal itself was delicious. I didn't believe the recipe when they said the meal was super filling - but it was. I could only put away 3 or 4 myself.

I'm super happy that I finally attempted to make pasta - and I will definetly do it again. I can't wait to experiment with other flavor combinations this Fall ... and in other seasons as well :)

End result:
- one more thing off my list
- flour all over the kitchen
- conquered pasta

Next up? Perhaps gnocchi ....

Flying High


This time last week I was flying home from the Virginia area. Although it was delayed for two hours in the lovely Washington Dulles airport... the flight was great once we took off.

My new job will keep me on the road a lot and I plan on filling you all in the experience with countless cellphone pictures. I take a lot of cell phone pictures - we know this - and I'm sure that I'll run into a lot of things that need to be photographed.

Regardless. Last week, I took two pictures that I think encapsulate the experience.

Picture 1:
I had a little issue jamming all of my belongings into two carry-ons especially considering I was coming back with one extra laptop and a very fashionable computer bag. ::insert sarcasm right about here::
 Its totally normal to try and carry two laptops and 2 pairs of shoes in your carry-on. Needless to say, I'm going to plan a little better next time. My poor bag is still tired from the workout.

Picture 2:
I never get tired of taking aerial pictures. Its hard because in order to take an aerial that means I have to give up my aisle seat - but it is sometimes worth it.
I have no idea where this was taken over - but there is something super awesome about the sun reflecting off the water and he clouds on the horizon.

I'm tentatively working from home next week, so the only adventurous pictures you'll be seeing will be of BLTs from the Golf Club and giant laundry piles.

Under the weather...


I’m feeling a little bit under the weather today – and actually for the last 3 days – yes, feel free to frown along with me. Its worrisome to me because I still would like to run the half marathon in November but I’m quite off pace for this “alleged training”. I’m still optimistic though – adrenaline can do wonders I hear.


I’m under the weather. Its nothing special, but I’m under it for sure. I went to CVS this morning for supplies and left with an arsenal of treats – and no candy. That’s how you know I’m not 100% - I didn’t even linger at the AirHeads or Halloween Candy Corn.

However, I’m a huge fan of Alkaseltzer. It could be about as useful as Airborne for all I know but I like the fizziness and the citrus, so I buy it. Today I put my mid-day treat in a fancy lighthouse glass to make myself feel special.

It worked. I feel special.

Oh, and I bought a new album off iTunes this morning to help with the work day. I heard this artist on the premiere of Cougar Town last night and loved it. The name is Carey Brothers – and the album is a whopping $5.99 on iTunes and Amazon.
I even “tweeted” about it. So that must mean I really mean it – because nobody lies on Twitter.

Peace out kittens.

1 million dollars


Do you have a meal that totally restores you?

I do... and you are looking at it.

Macaroni and Cheese makes me feel like a new woman. I know that sounds pretty significant but I mean it.... 100%.

Now let's be clear. I love M&C but not all m&c are made equal. Taking a quick poll of my living room, there are a variety of favorites ... Stouffers and Auntie Annie's stick out. I will pretty much each any type of Kraft Mac & Cheese they make. When my brother was a toddler I didn't even pretend that the Blue's Clues version was him ... I owned it. I loved having a little blue paw in my dinner.

Probably my other favorite Kraft version is fondly known as the "green wigglers" and has also been discontinued ... as far as I know. But to be honest, I also had to give up m&c for a few years in order to support my love of wine. I can only take so many guilty pleasures - and frankly wine can be consumed with others and I don't like to share my Mac & Cheese ... as is evidenced by the picture below.

I'm not the least bit embarrassed either to share this picture with you.

Especially since I feel like one million dollars again.

Is this for real?

I saw this video on the Ellen Show today and I couldn't believe that it was for real.

Apparently, some people are so confused by digital cameras that they are reverting to 35mm cameras.

Just think friends... for only $10 you can buy a technology that has been around in its current state for quite awhile. What a steal!

You'd think if you were looking for something "easier" you'd jump backwards to an Advantix camera that had easier to load film.

Apparently people will buy anything....

Hi Ocean.


Dear Morning Ocean,

You are gorgeous. Can't wait to see you on Friday.


This picture was sent to me by a friend, who knows how much I love the morning at the beach. How thoughtful :)

Modern Family

The return of fall is only okay for a few reasons, of which here are a few:
- red wine
- fire pits
- autumn colors

but also because of Fall tv premieres. I waver in whether I'm a huge tv watcher or not - and often it depends on whether or not I'm near my Tivo. My Tivo hasn't been set up all summer since I STUPIDLY upgraded to the new Tivo. (Unbeknown to me, you need a special card for the Tivo... and a wireless adapter ... and a sign from heaven practically in order to set it up)


I'm super excited for MODERN FAMILY to be back! I caught an episode last night and was reminded of what a great show it is. I love how each episode ends with some sort of family bonding. Tears people. Tears. (Well not really, but you know)

So in the spirit of loving on Modern Family... I'm going to share 3 clips with you.
1) one of the best known clips!

2) one of my fav clips!

3) sneak preview!

I can't wait to see what Phil Dunphy does this season. I see some giggles coming my way.

Things that make me happy....


I spent the summer doing things that made me happy - drinking wine, walking on the beach, taking pictures... and eating bagels. One might even call it the summer of bagels.

The last Friday before I went back to work we made homemade pizza and had smores by the firepit. It was awesome.

How can you say this doesn't look awesome?

The homemade pizza dough was pretty good but I think failed perhaps in that it didn't taste like pizza dough? Here is the recipe we used by Giada DeLaurentiis. We put motzarella cheese, pizza sauce, and prosciutto on the pizza. The prosciutto was delicious - but then again who ever turns down a salty meat product?

Certainly not this kid... who specifically requested it!

Hotel Life


Dear Hilton Hotels,

I am a new guest to your brand of hotels and I'd like to point out a few "pain points" during my stay. Now, let's be clear... by "pain points" I mean ... things I have come to expect in hotels that are apparently missing at the Washington Dulles Hilton.

I'm used to seeing the sign letting me know that they won't change my sheets without my specific request. Informing me that if I want new towels I'll be harming the icebergs, but just to leave my old ones on the ground... etc etc.

So, I was not surprised to see any of those polite messages in my hotel room, I was however surprised by the following:

I have performed a very informal and casual survey amongst my new colleagues... and it appears that nobody has a bathtub. Is this a bathtub-less hotel? I did not think this was something I would have to ask about when I check-in. It seems so personal to ask for a bathtub. Can't this just be an automatic?

I'm not looking for a luxurious tub. I don't need jets. I might not even use the tub - but is it so wrong to want options?

(2) Where does all my trash go?
My environmental friends I believe still love me even though I don't really recycle. I save cans, I save bottles (especially wine) ... but that's kinda where it ends. You usually know when someone wants you to recycle because of number of bins, subtle messaging, or perhaps bin size .... so I'm confused by the miniature trash cans that Hilton puts in the hotel rooms.

See the picture? Where do I put my trash? This baby is tiny.

I even did some googling "Hilton trash bin small size" and got one hit - that was not really appropriate ... but managed to also mention Paris Hilton. Thanks to the picture they provided, I do know we were both upset about the small size.

I'm sure I'll have more of these comments going forward - so get excited.

Perhaps, I'd be less confused about these if room service had remembered to bring me my glass of wine with my pasta dinner.

Hopelessly Yours

p.s. also, Hilton thanks for losing power during the finals of Wipeout. I love watching America get covered in foam and run around in lifejackets before getting vaulted into the water.
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