Take 2

Ah, 2013.  How is it January already?  While 2012 may have been the year Gwen and I started a blog, hopefully 2013 is the year we actually write a few posts for it!  One can hope.  She’s going to have a post for you this weekend, or so I hear ;0).

I’d like to follow through with some of the things I’d hoped to share last year, especially projects around my home.  There are some long ago uploaded “before” pics of my kitchen floating around; if I can get a few half decent “after” pics we’ll be all set there!  Many more projects to come this year, so I’ll try to document as best I can.  The next big one is having new floors installed upstairs so we will actually be using the upper half of our house!  Pretty exciting – moving the master upstairs in order to be closer to the nursery which will be occupied in 4.5 months or so.

Another possible series I’d like to start in lieu of or in addition to “Meal of the Week Monday” is a Julie & Julia style trial of the recipes in the Kreger Family Cookbook.  A couple of my aunts took it upon themselves to request recipes and put them together a couple of years ago – I think it would be fun to try (most of) them and share the recipes and any tips or tricks I learn along the way.  The first of which will likely be – “Don’t bother to make bagels at home if you live in a state where delicious bagels are readily available.”

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are looking forward to a happy year to come.  May it be filled with GGGB blog posts!

For your own Olympics Opening Ceremony party…

Hi all (2 readers),

I’m hosting a little party tomorrow evening to celebrate the kickoff of the Olympics.  However, recognizing that the actual ceremony coverage might not actually be that interesting, I’m opting to turn it into a drinking game (note: this method works for movies and/or boring television events, i.e. State of the Union address).  I was inspired by but not completely in love with the entire lists from a few different sites, so cobbled together my favorite ideas from each (sources noted at bottom of rules).  Click the link to print your own – there are 2 copies per sheet.  I am mounting mine on red and blue cardstock.

London Olympics Opening Ceremony Drinking Rules

P.S. Gwen and I whipped up some patriotic tie dye tees to wear throughout the games in support of Team USA.  Photos and lessons learned coming soon!

Summer 2012 To Do List

So I’m sure you’ve seen lists like this all over the internet, as have I, and I love the idea.  Since college is long over and I’ve transitioned to a year-round, Monday-Friday, 9-5, summers just aren’t the same.  For a few years now Labor Day has snuck up on me, and I’m left feeling like I haven’t quite had a chance to really appreciate and enjoy what has always been my favorite season (although it’s now competing with Spring and Fall since transitioning from a frigid office to the heat outside is no fun).  So this year I’m determined to spend as much time outdoors as possible and really enjoy the season.  Granted this should be a bit easier since as of this week we will have a house with a great deck and backyard!  In deference to the whole home-owning thing, everything I’m listing is free or cheap.  So, in honor of Memorial Day weekend, summer’s unofficial (official?) kickoff, I would like to present my own list.  Hopefully when Labor Day rolls around this year, I’ll be able to cross a few things off and feel like I’ve made the most of summer.

  • Dinner al fresco as much as possible – unless it’s raining or freak cold, I want to be eating on the deck.
  • After-dinner walks to learn our way around town – good for us and the pup
  • Bike ride or walk to get ice cream – this is mostly nostalgia for when we first started dating
  • Block party – if our new street doesn’t do this already, I’d love to organize a casual BBQ with the neighbors!
  • Beach Picnic – nothing fancy, just some bread and cheese, fruit, and a bottle of wine.  Or a bag of chips and a sixpack.   Like I said, nothing fancy!
  • Overnight motorcycle trip – we’re busy the month or so my hubby is home this summer, but I’d love to sneak away for an impromptu trip, or at least a long day ride.
  • Outdoor concert and/or movie
  • Go to the race track – always a fun way to spend an afternoon
  • Go for a hike
  • Train for 1/2 Marathon!
  • Watch fireworks (doesn’t have to be on the 4th, but probably will be – family vacation in Maine!)
  • Get psyched for the Olympics and watch as much as possible.
  • Work on the yard
  • Grow tomatoes and basil
  • Shop at the farmer’s market
  • Read books (minimum 5?  I used to get in trouble for reading too much, but can’t remember the last time I picked up a book.  Sad)
  • Knit something for myself – not that I’ve knitted any gifts lately either, but hopefully something cute that I can actually get excited about and wear will get me back into knitting.

What are you hoping to do this summer?

Meal of the Week

So.  This clearly was not MoTW material.  But sadly, boxed mac & cheese is an easy fallback when the husband is out at sea.  Not exactly a detox staple!  Luckily for me and the future of this weekly series, Gwen’s birthday this week provided an opportunity for plenty of deliciousness.  I don’t have much in the way of recipes, but will share what I can, and provide updates as I get my hands on the recipes.

We started off the night with some mojitos and awesome appetizers.  I definitely need to plant some mint so mojitos can be a standard summer cocktail.  Soooo refreshing!  They were enjoyed alongside crostini with brie, as well as topped with handmade fresh mozz, tomatoes and basil.  My sister, the master behind last week’s Greek nachos, this time brought lettuce wraps to be filled with an awesome peanutty pulled chicken and bright pineapple salsa*.  We made an impressive dent in all of this considering we’d be following up with homemade pizza for dinner!  Note: this is not an instagram filter, but a result of the awesome lighting on Gwen’s porch.

After polishing off a pitcher of mojitos, we moved on to a very basic sangria.  I kept it simple, just lots of sliced fruit (two each lemons, limes, and oranges, and one apple) and one bottle each of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, and then we topped each glass with some seltzer.  I didn’t bother with brandy or sugar and we still managed to enjoy it!

And now, the star of the night, Gwen’s first ever homemade pizza – including dough (I think she used this recipe) and sauce (from Giada’s Family Dinners) from scratch!  Our first (pictured here) was topped with shredded mozzarella, caramelized onions, and salami.  Awesome.  We went healthy-ish with the second, using a partially whole wheat crust, and topping it with goat cheese, more of the onions, as well as sauteed mushrooms and asparagus.  The pizzas were a hit and something I imagine we will be whipping up on a regular basis.

And, to end the night, Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes.  Sadly, I completely overcooked the cupcakes and they were very, very dry.  On the plus side, the frosting was awesome – basically chocolate mousse.  Hard to go wrong with that when the only ingredients are good chocolate, powdered sugar, heavy cream, and butter.  I’m opting to not even try to calculate the calorie content.

I hope you all enjoyed the great weather this weekend, it definitely got me psyched for summer.  I’m working on a summer to-do list of quintessential summer fun and will post it later this week.  Any suggestions?

*Update for Lettuce Wrap “recipe”:

“i didn’t really follow a recipe, so i can’t give you amounts but here we go:

Chicken: broil large chicken breasts (2) until cooked through.  shred chicken using fork, then chop to make smaller pieces.  in a large frying pan, add a little olive oil, the chicken, teriyaki glaze (bottle from a&p, enough to coat the chicken), a dollop of peanut butter, chili lime hot sauce (to taste) and a sprinkle of mint.  let simmer (with lid) on very low heat for 30-60 min to let flavors marry

Salsa: dice pineapple into small pieces.  dice onion.  dice mint leaves.  mix.  add salt and pepper (to taste).”

On not being a slacker…



So, big news to share this week – we are closing on our first home one week from today!  There has been a slow trickle of packing happening over the past couple of months, but now that the big move is officially imminent I’m a bit more motivated.  My mentality has shifted.  Everything that seemed like it should be packed closer to the move can suddenly be packed now!  My lovely SIL offered to come down and help me plow through and make some progress last night.  She is a much more effective packer than myself.  At one point, she suggested half a dozen things she could work to pack up, and I of course had an excuse for why each one wasn’t packed yet and couldn’t be packed yet.  Hmm, maybe my mentality hasn’t yet shifted as much as I thought!  After a couple of white wine spritzers I was much more willing to admit that perhaps I do not need 3 hoodies to tide me over the next few weeks.  And I suppose I can’t wear all of my shoes in the next couple of weeks either.  Anyway, end result, some progress was made.  These guys helped:

So anyway, I’d like to consider myself officially a non-slacker for the immediate future.  There’s just too much to do to have it any other way.  Speaking of, anybody know of good movers in NJ?

P.S. Happy Birthday Gwen!

Meal of the Week

New Weekly Feature!  Meal of the Week Monday!  I love to cook, especially for family and friends.  I’m always sharing recipes back and forth with my Mom and SIL and thought it’d be nice to share some of the particularly tasty ones with our readers!  Kind of silly given that Mom is one of our two readers, but oh, well.

Yesterday Mother’s Day provided a great opportunity to test out some new recipes, and I would say they were all successful.

First off, my sister’s awesome Greek Nachos: Make pita chips by splitting pitas horizontally and cutting into wedges, toast in the oven until crisp.  Spread them with hummus (she used 40 Spice), then sprinkle with crumbled feta, diced tomato, red onion, and kalamata olives.  Bake for another few minutes then sprinkle with diced cucumber.  Serve with Greek yogurt with lemon juice stirred in.  We all loved these.  They were seriously awesome and I’ve already requested she make them again over Memorial Day weekend!

We also snacked on a dip I whipped up.  It wasn’t my favorite of all time, but others seemed to enjoy it, so I figured I might as well share the recipe.  Mash 1 can of rinsed and drained white beans with 4 oz of blue cheese, the juice of half a juicy lemon, some salt and pepper, and a few tablespoons of the beans canning liquid (add to your desired dip texture, I used about 3 T).  I also added in some chopped parsley, but mostly just because I had parsley.  We served this with crudites.  (Note: in a pinch, a pastry blender works just fine to mash!)

Both appys were made even more enjoyable by the gorgeous weather yesterday which facilitated cocktails out back on the deck.  Definitely got me psyched up for summer!

Dinner was lovely.  Mom’s lime-marinated chicken (limeade concentrate, olive oil, garlic, ginger, salt & pepper) with cantaloupe-bacon relish (make this. now. seriously.), goat cheese crostini, and plenty of veggies.  Followed up with my sister’s boyfriend’s mom’s (there’s a mouthful) baklava.  That stuff is dangerous.  Kind of wishing I had a piece right now.

Happy Belated Mother’s Day, and I hope you enjoy some of these recipes at your next BBQ!

Mother’s Day Love

Happy Mother’s Day! As a Mother only to my precious pup, Jackson, I have to hand it to all the fabulous Mom’s out there! Certainly feeling thankful for mine. In celebration, I baked a berry pie with strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries – fresh fruit and a generous pinch of sugar makes for a delicious light (tasting) treat. Recipe to follow!


Hello, Summer

Just back from a much needed relaxing weekend at the beach! Awkward sunburn aside, it was the perfect mini getaway. We read on the beach, drank white wine spritzers (atleast I did, the husband drank old milwaukee – class), and ate dinner at our favorite clam bar. Back home and feeling refreshed, excited, and only slightly horrified at the thought of bathing suit season. Here’s to a happy, healthy Summer!

Cleanse update

Better late than never! Or something. The above cuteness is meant to distract you from from the fact that I didn’t post this update last week as promised.

So, the cleanse. Well, I did manage to tough it out for the full 3 days. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but apparently there was a bit more sodium in my diet than I realized! I say this because on day one I dropped about 4 pounds of water weight right off the bat. That was some pretty solid motivation to keep it up. As far as side effects are concerned, I’ll admit, I was a bit headachy and a little nauseous. I respectively blame those on sugar withdrawal and digesting so many veggies.

What I have taken away from the cleanse is a realization that I might not have been eating quite as healthfully as I always thought prior to this. Since, I’ve been trying to make better choices. I think those better, more moderate choices have been at least somewhat successful so far because a weekend of dinner out (see Gwen’s mention of a wine laden SIL dinner), a bridal shower, and afternoon cocktails and snacks with Mom at UL did not result in the scale jumping right back up this morning. I am officially sold on keeping up cleanse-like meals during the week if it means I can enjoy myself on the weekend. Add in a little exercise and I just might be ready to welcome bikini season! That is if the sun ever shines in NJ again.

Happy Monday!