Sunday, January 31, 2010


After a long day of cleaning, freelance projects, and snow, I decided it was time for some baking! I cracked open the "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes" cookbook my sister got me for Christmas (awesome!) and asked H to choose one for me to bake. He's a big fan of tastykake cakes, so it's no surprise he picked the "Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes."

They were delicious and not too difficult.

Here is the cupcake cemetery. I should have listened when they told me to use jumbo muffin tins. I only had one, so I used that one and one regular cupcake tin. Since the cupcake tin was too small, most of the ones in there puffed up and over the sides, so it was impossible to get them out without the tops falling off. Oh well, I'll think of something to do with them.

Here are the successful ones in all their marshmallow-ed glory.


I'll consider it a success! Recipe can be found here- I didn't make any changes. I did use fat-free sour cream (you know, cause I'm healthy) and it worked fine. Definitely use the jumbo muffin tins though and not regular cupcake ones!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pillow Talk

I think I have the winter blues. I can't stop thinking "tropical" thoughts, decor, everything. Now it's accent pillows. I love the colors and patterns and how much fun they are.




Summer can't get here fast enough!

Living Room Before and Now

After writing about my tropical modern inspirations, I realized I never posted about the progress on our living room. We actually did all this painting Halloween weekend, the first weekend after we got back from our honeymoon. We didn't waste any time!

Most of the walls- living room, dining room, and kitchen were all a muted yellow. Except for the (accent?) wall in the middle, which was sponge painted orange.

Looking into the dining room, from the living room.

The living room from the stairs.

And now- we did the living room and dining room walls a bright, sunny yellow. We also did the accent wall a cobalt blue and the kitchen a natural white, but I realize I didn't take any pictures of it yet!

View of the living room from right when you walk in the door.

View of the living room from the dining room.

Closeup of the honeymoon art on the wall above the sofa.

The dining room table. Yes, those are still our Christmas cards there :P

Antique buffet in the dining room.

It's coming along pretty well! I just wish I had the cash to decorate as much as I want to :P

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tropical Modern

When I get bored or uninspired decorating-wise, I like to think of more or less random adjectives to Google in front of "decor" just to see what I find. Today I chose "tropical modern" because that's kind of how I feel our living room is. It has a bright sunny yellow, cobalt blues, dark brown, and natural white and the painting we bought on our honeymoon is most definitely tropical-inspired. I found a whole lot of bright colors and airiness and natural accents laid-back-ness.

Love the light, airy feeling of the white and the natural accents.

(from user xJavierx on

I like the effortless combination of styles, and the pops of color.

(image from

The earthy color palate really works here.

(images from







Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Recipe Review- Healthy Shrimp Newburg

As part of my 101 in 1001, I committed to trying a new recipe each week for the next 1001 days. While I don't promise to blog about all of my accomplishments in the 101 list (I highly doubt anyone is interested in the extra $10 I put into savings or if I called my mom that week), this is one that I'd really like to keep up with.

So last week, I decided to try Rachael Ray's healthy version of "Shrimp Newburg," recipe here. I saw it in the magazine and it looked delicious, so creamy and "shrimp-y" and flavorful, but it was a bit of a disappointment. It didn't really have any flavor at all. I ended up dumping a few teaspoons of garlic powder in, which made it better, but still nothing exciting. Granted, I used skim milk instead of the recommended 2% milk because that's what we had, but I have trouble believing that was the problem. Oh well. They can't all be winners.

It looked pretty anyway. I served it with orzo pasta and steamed broccoli.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

iStock art

I am really inspired to do a DIY art project for the computer room. I'd love to hang a series of three abstract canvases above the loveseat. I can vaguely picture what I want to do, but wasn't even sure where to begin to look for inspiration. I'm not sure why, but I turned to since I end up using them a lot for design work. And sure enough, they had a few that caught my eye.

I like the yellow in this one, it's a good pop of color, but I think there is too much going on.

I like the texture here. And something like this has good potential as part of a 3-set.

This one is my favorite! Love the color and texture and simplicity!

And then I found some drool-worthy real ones!

These are all from Linda Kent Paintings and she seriously has some awesome stuff on there. Those would look a-maz-ing as a series of 3. I wish! But seriously, I'm looking forward to getting my hands dirty and playing with color and texture and canvas. It'll be fun!

Office Progress

We got a desk!

Here was the old one we had in the room:

I don't have a true before picture of it in use (this one is from our craigslist listing), but here it is. This desk was huge, and I mean HUGE. At about 6' long, 3' deep and 5' tall (seriously, it took up about as much floor space as a twin bed), it had tons of storage space, but it just took up too much space in the room we wanted to be more multipurpose.

And we truly didn't need all that space anymore. In the past few years, we both replaced our desktop computers with laptops. (And plan to remain "laptop people" in the future) And during my Fresh Start week, we reduced the amount of boxes of "stuff" in the desk from six to two.

So we were looking for something compact, yet still had some storage space and under $100. We searched Ikea, furniture stores, and scoured craigslist, but we were mostly finding large executive style set-ups that were way more than we wanted to spend or had room for. We found a few smaller, more budget-friendly options, but they were mostly just a table with a small drawer. We still needed some space!

And then we were in the furniture section of Staples and found this for only $60. It's compact, fits perfectly in the room and still has a good amount of storage. No, it's not gorgeous, nor does it go with my aqua, red, brown, and white I have going on in there, but it gets the job done. It's also small enough to fit in a nook in the media room should that room ever hypothetically need to be turned into a nursey. Hypothetically.

Well, here it is:

I realized this photo doesn't show the placement in the room at all, but it is in the corner to the left of the door. We're planning on putting a shelf above the wall adjacent to the door as well, so we have just a bit more room.

*Disclaimer- this is totally a BEFORE picture! It will definitely look a lot better in the near future!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Officially on the Bandwagon...

I've officially jumped on the bandwagon. The bandwagon of 101 tasks in 1001 days that is. I was reluctant at first; I thought I'd never be able to think of 101 things I wanted to do and I didn't think I'd really have the motivation to finish them all. But once I started writing the list just to see if I could, everything flowed. I actually had to edit it down by the time I was done! The categories helped, it was easier to think of things I wanted to do in specific areas than just in general. And perhaps I'll lose interest, or not finish, but I'm going to try. These are things I truly want to do so that will definitely help me with the motivation. My deadline is October 10, 2012- just before our third anniversary.

Here we go!

1. fill up a journal
2. take boudoir pictures
3. rock a strapless dress
4. see a movie by myself
5. watch the sun rise
6. keep a dream journal for a month
7. get a psychic reading done
8. learn to speak French again
9. buy an awesome vintage handbag, piece of clothing, or piece of jewelry
10. clean and preserve/donate/etc. (whatever I decide to do with) my wedding dress
11. make a new list of 101 things

12. write H a love letter
13. choose photos for our wedding album
14. continue monthly date nights with H (20/33)
15. spend a night in the hotel we got married in
16. eat dinner together in dining room, no distractions for 2 weeks straight

17. call my mom at least once a week for two months
18. host a cocktail party at our house
19. host a game night at our house
20. host a holiday meal for one or more sides of the family at our house
21. adopt a dog (wasn't sure where to put this one, but I figure he'll be part of the family so it works)

22. become CPR certified
23. reach and maintain my goal weight (0/20 lbs)
24. wake up at 6 AM to exercise for one (work) week straight
25. go on a bike ride through our neighborhood
26. enter and run in a 5k
27. enter and run a 10k
28. enter and run in a half-marathon
29. eat vegetarian for a week
30. take a Pilates class
31. take a ski lesson
32. go ice skating three times (1/3)

33. take an art class
34. take a baking class
35. learn to knit
36. create a scrapbook
37. sell something homemade on etsy
38. make a piece of art (collage, painting, etc.) for our house
39. make our holiday cards instead of buying one year

40. decrease my use of non-environmentally friendly cleaning products
41. buy mesh bags to use for produce instead of plastic bags
42. get into the practice of unplugging appliances/devices while not in use
43. replace all light bulbs with low-energy bulbs as needed
44. ride my bike somewhere I would normally drive three times (1/3)
45. go to a farmers' market for produce instead of the grocery store at least 5 times per summer (10/15)
46. set thermostat at 2 degrees warmer in summer and colder in winter than it is now
47. maintain a vegetable garden every summer (2/3)
48. plant a flower garden

49. read at least 50 books (my book list)
50. see all Best Picture winning movies (my movie list)
51. visit the Guggenheim
52. visit the Met
53. attend 3 concerts (3/3)
54. see a play on Broadway
55. attend four Phillies games (3/4)
56. join the local public library
57. attend a community festival

58. try one new recipe per week
59. try five foods I've never had before ( 1 2 3 4 5 )
60. make homemade gnocchi
61. maintain an herb garden
62. buy whole coffee beans to grind in coffeemaker
63. make and bottle five different healthier salad dressings ( 1 2 3 4 5 )

64. paint downstairs media room
65. spray paint old table lamps for media room
66. find end tables for media room
67. paint upstairs bathroom
68. paint exterior front door
69. clean all baseboard trim
70. repaint all trim and molding
71. landscape our backyard
72. have the series of B & W photos I took in my college photography class professionally matted and framed
73. redo master closet (paint, shelving, new lighting)
74. decorate computer room
75. decorate master bedroom
76. go to three antique shops (0/3)

77. go river tubing
78. go sky diving
79. go star-gazing
80. have a picnic in the park
81. travel out West
82. take a unplanned "where-ever-the-road-may-take-us" road trip
83. visit three states I've never been to before (1 2 3)
84. go tent camping for a weekend
85. visit a town in NJ that I've never been to
86. go to the driving range with H

87. create a will
88. pay off half of remaining student loan debt
89. start to and continue to contribute to company 401k plan
90. pay off all credit card debt
91. increase emergency fund to 6 months worth of combined income
92. put $10 a week into savings, in addition to what I save already

93. clean out, decorate, and bring some cheer to my cube at work
94. get a raise/promotion
95. create a fully functional, professional level website using CSS and not tables
96. really organize iTunes music
97. import all my CDs onto computer
98. maintain my blog (at least one post per week)

99. volunteer my time 15 times (1/15)
100. give a compliment to a stranger five times (0/5)
101. pay for someone behind me in line

An Exchange with the Husband

I try not to be the type of girl who plays mind games with her husband. The one who comes home and asks if he notices anything different about her, and then gets all hurt he didn't notice her new pedicure or subtle, 1/2" hair trim. I try not to be, but I'll admit I do it a little bit. My hopes are never high, and I never get upset if he doesn't notice what I want him to. But I have to say it's amusing for me to see what he notices sometimes.

Take the linen closet- I added the linen closet to my declutter/donate/organize list and attacked it Sunday while H was taking down the Christmas lights outside. I went through the whole closet and I was able to put two whole sheet sets, a comforter, and 8 full size towels (in perfectly good condition, mind you- I don't know what I was thinking with the colors I chose for my first apartment. Nothing matched, I picked one of every obnoxiously bright color towel I could find), which is about 1/3 of what was in the closet. I refolded and organized everything too, so it looked even emptier. As I was sitting back admiring all the extra space, H comes in. And the following exchange takes place...

Me: "Honey, do you notice anything different about the linen closet?"

H: "Yeah!"

H sounds enthusiastic, like he knows he's right and I'm going to be impressed with his response. My heart skips a beat (it doesn't take much), thinking he's going to compliment my fabulous organization skills.

H: "It's filled with linens!"

Me: "No... no, not quite"

Sigh, oh well.

Christmas Eve (only a little late)

I just realized I never posted any pictures of our Christmas tree this year. I took a few, and meant to, but just never got around to it. And as I sit here and think about how I already miss the holiday season, it seems like a perfect time to!

We had an amazing holiday. We had Christmas Eve all to ourselves, which was absolutely wonderful. I compromised and made a 4 Fish feast: linguine with red clam sauce, shrimp and scallop scampi, and Parmesan tilapia. Everything was delicious, and we even cracked (popped) open a bottle of champagne we received as a wedding gift. Afterward we cuddled on the couch and watched Love Actually (love that movie!), and H only asked how long it was once. We then opened our presents and called it an early night. It was a wonderful first married Christmas together.

Sorry for the crappy image quality- we had "romantic" lighting that night.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Irish Car Bomb CUPCAKES??

I'm not an Irish car bomb type of girl. Really. Not even in college. Something about chugging a glass of curdling concoction... just doesn't do it for me. The ingredients however? Now that's a different story!

So when I saw these cupcakes on EastVillageKitchen, I was excited to say the least. Those beauties are Guinness chocolate cupcakes with a Jameson chocolate ganache filling, and a Bailey's buttercream frosting. WOW. My first thought was "what a great St. Patrick's Day treat!" but I don't think I can wait until then...

(images from EastVillageKitchen, recipe here.)

I told you this post would be a bit more exciting ;) I think I'll be baking these this week...

My Fresh New Start

As promised, (thrilling, I know) I'm checking in to report the results of my "Five Days to a Fresh Start" challenge. I took a bit more than 5 days, and I didn't get everything done, but I put a large dent in it and I'm really proud of my progress. It feels really good to have everything a little neater and more organized. Let's hope we can keep things this way for a while!


• my closet- done

• office- mostly done

• night stands/dressers- done

• linen closet- done
(what, that wasn't on the list before?!? Well I added it to the list, and it's done!)


• clothes from closet- mostly done
(not donated yet, but they're in piles and ready to go)

• old office desk- done
(we listed it on craigslist- for free- weeks ago, and each interested seller fell through. Finally someone picked it up!)

• stuff from office- mostly done
(we had a lot of working, but old electronics that we are able to donate, and the non-working ones we recycled. I still have to go through the books and CDs to see what we can donate.)

• old dishes/glasses- mostly done
(In piles, ready to go. I just have to check to see if my brother wants any for his apartment before they go to goodwill.)


• my closet- done
(feels so good to be able to walk through it. It used to be a total waste of a perfectly good walk-in closet)

• kitchen cabinets- mostly done


• As organized as I am, H is usually the one who takes care of filing bills, tax info, medical stuff, etc. I have a tendency to "clean" too often and throw away things we need, so important papers are safer in his hands. I'll see if I can interest him in filing away some mail, pay stubs, and papers. However, this is something I try to do on a daily basis so I'm not sure how it will turn out...- done!!!
(I am so thrilled, he cleaned out the filing cabinet! He got rid of so much that we didn't need, it feels 50 lbs lighter. I love him so much!)

• holiday decorations- done
(I was able to sort out everything from the old "wedding" bin and store our Christmas decorations there.

This constantly needs to be done throughout the whole house, but I guess that's a bit ambitious... but what really needs a good, thorough scrubbing is:

• the upstairs bathroom- done

• laundry area- done

• downstairs bathroom- not so much... maybe this week

I promise my next post will be a little more interesting!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Some Modern Bedrooms

As you can see in this post here, our master bedroom was, and still is "minimalist" if you can even call it that. Granted, we've put up some curtains, but there is really no decor whatsoever. And I have to admit the stark-ness is beginning to wear on me a bit.

So I searched for a bit of inspiration...

Love the color! And the hand statue that I think is being used as a jewelry holder.
(image from metropolitan homes)

Love the wall color, and bright colors of the bedding. Also love the arrangement above the bed.
(image from

Love the palate, and how it manages to feel cozy and modern at the same time.
(image from

Love the peaceful feeling and the arrangement above the bed.
(image from

Love the red, and the painting over the bed. And the view :P
(image from

It's Been a Busy Decade...

I've heard so many people say "I can't believe it's 2010 already!!" Well, I can't believe it either...kinda. I can certainly believe it's a new year; they fly by fast enough now that's it's not exactly a big deal. A whole new decade though... I'm having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around that one. I was 15 when the last one started and I cannot believe how much has changed and everything I've gone through in the past 10 years.

I went to prom / got my drivers' license / graduated high school / had my first real, "grown-up" boyfriend / started college / lived in and explored a city of 1.5 million on my own / traveled to Europe / lived through being completely and totally broke / got over the "just a friend" stigma to start dating the most perfect man in the world / fell in love / went to Vegas (haha, not what it sounds like there) / graduated college / traveled to Hawaii / created a portfolio of work I put my blood, sweat, and tears into throughout college (literally, I've cut my fingers with xacto blades more times than I can count) / saw my little sister start high school / watched my brother go away to college / landed my first full-time, real-world, adult job / rented my first apartment on my own / helped one of my best friends look for apartments in NYC / got engaged / got laid off / used professional connections and a revamped portfolio to score a new job / became a home-owner / was a bridesmaid for one of my best friends / became someone's wife / had a kick-ass wedding celebration with all of our friends and family / had someone I truly loved pass away / celebrated our first holiday season as our own family...

I've met so many incredibly people and learned a lot about myself and those around me. I've become so much more confident and sure of myself. I am so grateful I gave a "friend" a chance and ended up marrying the most perfect person for me. I've developed a whole new love and appreciation for family, I've become closer to my siblings, and I am so proud of the amazing adults they've become.

I can't even begin to imagine what the next decade brings. But whatever it is, I'm ready for it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Very Handy Kitchen Shelf

You know how when you move into a new place, and you look around at all of the empty rooms and closets and cabinets and think, "what am I even going to do with all this storage space!?!" And then you get all your pots and pans/ furniture/clothes/what-have-you in there and all suddenly all this space all but disappears.

Well, it's happened to me. Multiple times. Perhaps I need to become a better judge of space, but what's done is done. And that being said, I really do like our kitchen; the problem is a lack of a pantry. My parent's house growing up and even my old apartment both had pantries so I've become used to the huge amount of extra storage space they provide. Without one, our food has begun to take over the space for our pots, pans, dishes, glasses, and gadgets. We decided to do something about the pots and pans, because they were the biggest headache to store and would give us the most room by moving somewhere else.

I decided my ideal solution would be to put a stainless steel grated shelf on the empty wall above the "coffee corner" and hang the pots and pans from S hooks all sexy commercial kitchen style.

So we took a trip to Lowe's and looked at kitchen shelving- it was pricey and smaller than I preferred. So then we looked at garage shelving, and found some that was the perfect size and only $50 for 2 shelves. That was about a quarter of the average price of the kitchen shelving! And eventually we'll put the other one in the garage, so it won't be a waste to have two. I debated it for a while, wondering if it looked too industrial. But I decided the most industrial-looking part of it was the slightly textured black/silver finish, and that could easily be taken care of with a couple coats of spray paint come spring.

(we obviously need to shorten the light fixture that is just resting on top of it now)

Another problem our kitchen had was my height. That's right- all 5'2 of me. Each kitchen cabinet had 3 shelves, which would have been great- had I been able to reach them all. The top one was just out of my reach, and I've strained my neck and shoulders countless times trying to reach something up there. Enough is enough. So I had H take out the top divider and move the bottom one slightly up to create 2 larger shelves instead of 3 smaller ones. Now I'm able to stack boxes and cans and tall bottles on the top shelf and still reach them by grabbing the bottom one.

(this one is the corner cabinet, so much room now!)

Nice! We've tackled two top cabinets so far. I'm not sure if we'll do the other two, since they do provide some extra storage for things we don't use as often.