Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Pictures

In January, I sewed my first pillow (oh lord, I need to sew some more...that was my last home project!)

In February, I wrestled mightily (but succeeded) with making a tufted headboard.

In March, we went exploring for a day on the Eastern Shore.

In April, we ordered glasses online!

In April and May, we went to Ireland, my first trip out of the country! See pics from all over the country here, here, here and here.

In June, we bought a new dresser, mastered gouda mac & cheese and made my first ice cream!

In July, my pal Bret and I visited the DC area, and I went to the Virginia Derby.

In August, I started painting again!

In September, I finally got to dance my butt off to Girl Talk in concert!

In October, I went to my 10-year high school reunion! Eesh.

In November, I had a great Fall Harvest birthday party.

And this month, I had what I consider my most successful wrapping color scheme yet — green and gold.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Best v. 135

Let's all party Martha Stewart-style.

Tomorrow's the big day! I never seem to have the big blowout New Year's plans you see in movies, but this year, I'm planning to put on some sparkles and enjoy a night at my in-law's house with some good friends and of course, Asti. Here's some links I loved this week:
  • Gawker explains what will really happen if we go over the fiscal cliff.
  • The part of The Sound of Music you didn't see: the Baroness' reaction.
  • Django Unchained is supposed to be really good, but maybe a bit awkward for white folks to be laughing.
  • Drake is expected to get paid for YOLO.
  • LOL-worthy shots of Kellan Lutz.
  • I'm obsessed with watching and rewatching this sexy dance from Freaks and Geeks.
  • Familiar movie locations.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cherry Coke-Glazed Ham

It's not easy to plan a Christmas Eve meal for two. You want to have some of the traditional meals of your youth, but you don't want a fridge full of leftovers for a week. Luckily, I managed to find this tiny half pre-sliced ham and thought I could pull together a great holiday feast appropriate for two.

I decided to try this Cherry Coke-glazed ham recipe. I had to adjust it, of course, for the substantially smaller ham, but it still tasted delicious. First, pat the ham with dark brown sugar, then pour cherry coke over it, then pat it again. I then baked it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, making my favorite roasted potatoes at the same time.

In the meantime, I noshed on a true Williamsburg classic snack: bread ends and special sauce from The Cheese Shop.

I'm sure it's sacrilege, but life's a bit easier when you have a pre-sliced ham.

And finally we sat down to an excellent Christmas Eve meal! It was pretty easy peasy, and I can imagine is only better with the traditional whole cloves studding the criss-crossed meat. Even without them, it was tasty.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas in Pictures

Did you have a great holiday? I hope so! My husband had to work, so I spent the weekend shuttling between my parents and friends, having fun all over the place. Here's a few snapshots of my trip. I bought British-style crackers that included tissue paper crowns, just like in "Love Actually" and "About a Boy."

My sweet nephew Spencer couldn't stand to wear the crown long enough for more than a couple pictures, but here's one of the ones I snagged. He had us dying laughing as he asked us to sing, then told us to "Hush hush hush hush hush!!"

On Sunday, my friends and I met up for our annual Christmas party, where we played a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity. We also played our classic horrible White Elephant, including only items from the dollar store. I won Channel No. 5! 

We had our own tissue paper crowns! I love my friends.

When I got home, I added two new ornaments to the tree that we received as gifts. My mom gave me this gorgeous swan...

And I gave Sean this beautiful typewriter ornament. It was a great trip, but we still have a gift exchange coming up with my in-laws to look forward to!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Best v.134

Don't you just love the incomparable Julie Andrews? I feel like her outfit in this picture would be the perfect Christmas Eve dress! I'm visiting family today, going to my super best friends' birthday party tonight and then hitting the roads back home to have my very first Christmas Eve and Christmas at home with the husband. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Card Display

We've received more gift cards this year than ever before, and table space is at a premium since we don't have a mantel or staircase to adorn.  

I realized that, being the crazy craft supply hoarder I am, I had everything I needed to make a charming and rustic Christmas Card banner display.

All I did was hang twine + wood clothespins and it's been fun to make more room every day for my lovely cards. 

How do you display your cards? My mom always attached ours to a pretty garland around the doorway from the living room to the hallway...I hope to do something similar one day.

Holiday Wine Club Party 2012

It's that time again! Time for the Wine Club Christmas Party. This year, Erica hosted at her beautiful new home, and it was so lovely all dressed up for the holidays. We exchanged gifts White Elephant-style, and sampled champagne with mixers: blue curacao, midori, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, hibiscus flowers and more.

Some of our snacks included red velvet cupcakes with sugar snowflakes...mmmm. We also had cookies and a cookies and cream pie...

I brought a fruit tray with honest-to-goodness mini apples I found at Fresh Market. I want to make mini caramel apples with them.

Erica was excited to use her gorgeous "12 Days of Christmas" plates from Pottery Barn. How beautiful is that partridge in a pear tree plate?!

She also served delicious pork tenderloin. She said she simply rubs it with olive oil and fresh herbs, quickly browns it and then roasts it until the meat is perfect. We dipped it in cranberry sauce and it was the perfect pairing!

Another year, another party. We had a great 2012. Wanna relive it? Here's more Wine Club moments from 2012.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Dressing

Not to brag, but my social calendar this holiday season has been jam-packed and I've been staring at my closet feeling like it's appropriate. I've been shopping around for little pieces to spruce up my wardrobe for the parties and events, and thought I'd share some of the budget-friendly items I've stumbled across in the process. I wanted to be a good and helpful blogger, so I made sure all of this is available in your average mall/shopping center and are still within the online-ordering realm if you need clothes for Christmas or New Year's.

Mall Holiday 1

  1. Green Dress, $30 at Old Navy
  2. Pyramid cuff, $20 at Forever 21.
  3. Red dress, $118 at J. Crew Factory store.
  4. Rhinestone Peter Pan collar, $25 at Forever 21.
  5. Sequin skirt dress, $52 at Dress Barn (I know, I was stunned, too. I thought that was the frumpiest store, but they actually have some great stuff these days and a wide range of sizes).
  6. Rhinestone earrings, $13 at Target.

Holiday 2

  1. Green silk blouse, $65 at J.Crew Factory
  2. Lace top peplum dress, $60 at Dress Barn.
  3. Sequin tank, $25 at Old Navy.
  4. Faux leopard ankle boots, $28 at Old Navy
  5. Prismatic earrings, $16 at Urban Outfitters.
  6. Stone necklace, $9.80 at Forever 21.

Holiday 3

  1. Sequin dress, $62 at Dress Barn.
  2. Magenta suede heels, $60 at Macy's
  3. Teardrop crystal ring, $13 at Target.
  4. Feathered hem dress, $250 at Macy's. 
  5. Jersey dress, $25 at Old Navy.
  6. Drop earrings, $6.80 at Forever 21.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Edible Gift: Preserved Lemons

Making preserved lemons is simultaneously one of the easiest/most tedious edible gifts you can make. Unfortunately, they take about 30 days before they're ready to use in cooking, so if you want to throw some together, you'll have to include a note with your gift that mentions they'll be ready to use in about February (LOL). I received some a few years ago and the flavor was amazing...just a little sliver could make Moroccan chicken, lemon orzo and other dishes taste incredible. 

Here's what makes it tedious: the lemons work best if they soak in salted water for three days, with the water changed each day. Also, your jars will need to be sanitized

Once they've fully soaked in their brine, scrub them and cut them into four wedges, only cutting halfway so the lemon is still attached together. Be sure to take juice one lemon for reserve juice.

Pour kosher salt into the lemon and rub it on the outside.

Squish the lemon into one of your sanitized jars (I used a Weck jar I bought at World Market...make sure your jar has a rubber barrier. The citric acid can corrode metal lids), making sure the lemon juice comes out. Repeat until the jar is full, and top off with reserve lemon juice and salt.

And that's it! Now, just let them preserve at room temperature for 30 days before use. Occasionally turn the jars upside down. The lemons make a great gift, but be sure to include some ideas of how to use them!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy Honey Chipotle Meatballs

Martha Stewart has this recipe for honey chipotle turkey meatballs that seems great and easy. But why not make it a touch easier, for quick nighttime cooking? Rather than make my own turkey meatballs, I bought some pre-made ones and left myself the easiest prep ever: making the sauce.

While I cooked the meatballs in a skillet with olive oil, I mixed 2 tablespoons of honey, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar. Fiddle around the amounts of each ingredient to find the right mix for you; we both think we can handle more spice than we actually can, so next time, I'd go heavier on the honey. 

Once the meatballs were browned on all sides and heated through (check on that...I had one or two that were still a little cold), pour the sauce over and let it bubble up and then simmer until it has reduced, thickened and coated the meatballs. This is the method Martha recommends, but it works just fine.

We had ours with rice, which was perfect, if a little bland to photograph. It was a good, quick, spicy dinner.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Best v.133

Do you read Beyonce's tumblr? I'm kinda obsessed. This is a shot she took at Art Basel and I am so jealous she didn't invite me to come along. 

It's the end of the year, so that means a million end of the year lists have come out. I always read them and end up spending 2013 playing catch-up with the best books, music and movies of the previous year. Here are some of the lists I'll be using as my spirit guides for early 2013 (along with other links I loved this week!):

Friday, December 14, 2012

Jams of the Week

Doc Jam: "Where I'm From" starring Jay-Z

This is a bit lengthy, but it's a fascinating behind-the-scenes doc of my favorite rapper. The moment when he explains who he is to the old lady on the subway is classic.

TV Jam: "Nashville"

Are you watching "Nashville" on ABC? I love it. I love the songs, I like the drama, which actually seems semi-realistic in some aspects (not so much in others). I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I'm really digging it.

Holiday Treat Jam: So Delicious Mint Chocolate
My friend Bret told me I had to give this a shot, and it is totally delicious and guilt-free! I think it's 50 calories per serving, but is rich enough that one serving satisfies that craving. It's nice to know there's one little thing that can offset my ludicrous candy/cookie binging around the holidays.

Reading Jam: Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer

If you live near a Trader Joe's and you get the "Fearless Flyer," seriously take the time to read it one day. I look forward to it every month and I swear, it's got the best copywriting in the ad business. I always end up giggling over some silly pun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Scenes from Christmas Town 2012

On Sunday, we made our now-annual trip to Busch Gardens' Christmas Town, the most magical place ever! Seriously, it's become one of my absolute favorite things about living where we do. I thought I'd share some pictures of the beautiful lights:

Wine club girls on the skyride!

The newest attraction: a 50's-themed Christmas!

It was great fun as always. If you're interested in going, I can't recommend going on a game Sunday enough...the lines were moving fast! Tickets are $25 each and once you buy a commemorative mug, you can get 99-cent hot chocolate refills all night! Hot tip: if you've been before, you can bring the mugs back and save yourself about $10.