Friday, September 30, 2011

diy frame mating

I found such a great DIY project via the Michaels store Twitter account. They led me to Kimberly Crawford's "For the Love of Paper" blog with great step-by-step instructions for how to cover the matting with fabric and stamp around the photo (See Stamped Fabric Photo Mat). The only change I made was doing the paint stamp before adhering the fabric to the matting. Also, I used good old fashion Elmer's school glue.

When shopping for a frame be sure to look for one with a big enough mat to notice your stamp design!

I've made two... One for my grandparents and another for my friend. Here are some photos from the process and the finished product!!

Supplies you'll need.
Stamp your design! I used the paint brush to apply paint on the stamp, rather than dipping.
Mark the edges of your frame.
Cut on diagonals towards the corners.
Haha! This photo is me and my grandparents on my Communion day back in 1995!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

nail polish is the new lipstick

My polish collection has recently exploded. My fascination with nail art has grown exponentially. And my searching for tutorials has brought me deeper and deeper into the blogsphere. I thought it was just me. Alas, I was wrong. On Morning Joe this morning TIME magazine presented their newest cover and issue. Inside is an article about how nail polish is the new lipstick. They are referring to the "Lipstick Index" a term used to describe increased sales of lipstick during recessions. The theory behind the madness is that women like to make small purchases, of an insignificant cost, to feel better about themselves when the economy is down. Lipstick is something that won't break your wallet... and neither is nail polish!

Listening to Joe and Mika mention the article it was in my head! And now I come across an article on Refinery 29 discussing the cult around nail art! Then I begin thinking about all the fabulous designs I've discovered (and pine to recreate) on pinterest this week.

Nail polish really has become the new lipstick. It's a small purchase that makes a lot of women happy!!

Here are the next two designs in my line up...

This looks so elegant... and I have four types of scrapbooking scissors I can use to cut the scotch tape!
I'm loving the tan, navy, and gold combo. I don't have a gold so I'm now on a mission. Also, I think the half-moon on the cuticle is such a great look. Remember seeing this on the runway a few years ago!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

high flying death defying

It's Wednesday, folks, you know what that means... trapeze class recap! Last night was a tie-dye theme. Everybody showed up in tie-dyed shirts, tights, spandex... you name it, it was dyed. Here's our class photo!

Peace, Mandy!
Shannon (not pictured) and I even sported the same tie-dye spandex from We Love Colors. A little about We Love Colors... they make affordable tights, footless tights, spandex, and then some. They have a great assortment of patterns and colors. Works great for the trapeze artist as well as the fashionista in me! Remember the post  (<-- click) I wrote about my outfit I wore as soon as the weather turned cold; boots, tights, pencil skirt & sweater jacket? Those tights were from We Love Colors!

PS - you know what was so great about having Water Marble Nail Art this week?! My nails were tie-dye too :)

And last, but certainly not least... here's a video from catching my back-end straddle whip!! A BIG HUGE thank you to my amazing instructors; Mandy, Will, and Marissa for coaching me through my struggles last night and helping me get this trick "catchable"!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

happy birthday rachel

Happy Birthday, Rachel!! Wish I could have joined all y'all for some tacos last night.

Hope to see you soon - miss you. xoxo

Monday, September 26, 2011

water marble nail art

I found this out via pinterest (my newest obsession) and knew I would try it at my very first opportunity! After some research I found and watched the YouTube video (here) for a tutorial and guidance. When I put it on facebook I got a lot of feedback... "it doesn't work", "looks cool", "old trick, oil and water"...

As soon as I got back into town on Sunday evening I hoped up at my kitchen island and got to work! Keep in mind as you read through this that being speedy is helpful, but not so quick that you accidentally knock a bottle of polish over! (No, I'm not talking from experience. Yes, I swear.)

This evening I stopped by a fabric store in Falls Church to collect some fabric on another DIY craft I have coming up and the man at the register asked about my nails. After briefly explaining the basics of the process he replied "Wow, you did that yourself? You should work at a nail salon." That just about made my day! He thought they looked professional :)

Now, on to the good stuff!

On top of normal grooming tools, other supplies you'll need!
Glass jar (the smaller the mouth the better... but large enough to fit your finger. A shot glass could work if you have one... I used a small mason jar. I'd suggest using something that you don't plan to ever put food in again.)
Nail polish (one for a base [e.g., white] and two or three colors for the marble.)
Orange stick (or toothpicks to swirl the polish and pick up excess polish on water.)
Scotch tape (to wrap around your finger and keep the polish from going everywhere!)


Step 1: Ready your nails... cut, file, buff, and apply base coat.

Step 2: Apply scotch tape around your nail, this will help keep polish off your entire finger.

Step 3: Paint your nail a base color, something opaque and simple. I used Marshmallow by essie as I felt the white would help the water polishes pop.

Step 4: Fill a small glass jar/cup/container with water. *The water must be room temperature... if it's too hot or cold the nailpolish won't set right.

Step 5: Ready your nailpolishes (shake them), open them and keep them right next to your water jar. (I may or may not have accidentally let a drop or two fall on the counter.)

Step 6: Drop one or two droplets (I did one) onto the water's surface (a select few dropped straight to the bottom) alternating colors. They will spread across the surface of the water. **Depending on the width of your container's mouth, the polish may or may not reach the edges of your cup/container. This is important to note because can cause error or frustration in Step 7.

Step 7: When you have all the colors on the water's surface, take an orange stick or toothpick and drag across the surface to create lines, blends, swirls, etc. Don't get too crazy, simple is good! ***Note, if the polish hasn't reached the edge of the container, start the toothpick within the confines of the polish. If you start the drag of the toothpick outside of the polish (between the polish and edge, as shown by water in the diagram below) you'll pick up all the polish sitting on the surface and it won't work.

Step 8: Bend your finger at the first knuckle to submerge into the water. The polish on the surface, exactly where your finger hits it, will adhere to your nail! Keep your finger submerged.

Step 9: Using the toothpick or an orange stick, swirl around the top of the water to collect the remaining polish floating on the top.

Step 10: When the water's surface is clear, lift up submerged finger. Repeat this for all ten fingers.

Step 11: Remove scotch tape.

Step 12: To remove the excess polish on the sides of your nail and cuticle I suggest using a brush with nail polish remover. 100% acetone works the fastest, but whichever you prefer will do the trick. You can use a Q-tip as well, but I much prefer using a small brush... I found mine in the cosmetics aisle of the supermarket!

And... VOILA! You have beautiful water marble nails. Here are a few of mine. Last night Ross and I were looking at them like clouds, "What do you see?"

how to unplug

 This past weekend Ross and I spent time with his family in the Charlottesville area! It was really great to unwind, without a cell signal, all weekend. We spent Saturday afternoon cider tasting... this was a great alternative to wine tasting and something I highly suggest if the opportunity arises.

We stopped first at the Albemarle Cidery. Their site is a beautiful, large white barn! They were setting up for a wedding, so I couldn't help but sneak a peek. The tasting room is off to the side with a side patio overlooking pastures and a still lake out back. We only saw a few sapling apple trees on the lot - but the plot is huge. See what I saw in the next three photographs, below.

 Three of the four ciders at Albemarle were sparkling and quite tart as they were made with Pippin apples. The last was flat but lacked some flavor. 
Such a beautiful patio to enjoy a bottle of cider together!

Next we were off to Albemarle Ciderworks. These were tasty ciders with quite a bit of flavor! Our favorite was the "Ragged Mountain" - their most traditional of flavors. Not as sweet as the commonly found Woodchuck, but you can really taste the apples in here.

All in all, glad we did cider tasting! And hope to do it again soon but maybe we'll hit up a brewery first!

Friday, September 23, 2011

community family life services

My Junior League (of Washington) placement this year is with a great program called Community Family Life Services (CFLS). You can read all about their mission at their website, here, but I'll provide you with a brief synopsis! They help low income and homeless families, usually single parents, by providing transitional housing, life coaching, and a positive environment for the family.

The Junior League's involvement with CFLS started as a book club for the mom's... it has transitioned to so much more! The group of volunteers come once or twice a month to provide the mom's and kids with dinner, then we divide the moms and kids for separate activities. We hang out with the families for 90 minutes during each visit.

Last night the children decorated cookies for their moms! And I joined the conversation with the mother's... we played two truths and a lie. Mine was:

  1. I am a twin.
  2. I blog.
  3. I do flying trapeze.
Can you guess which one is the lie?! :)

After introductions we read a page of quotes on happiness and talked about what makes everybody happy. I found out that one of the moms is a blogger too! So, I am going to have to get her site and post it here to share with you all. Another mom said that horseback riding makes her happy! Not sure if I've written about my horseback riding adventures here but I used to ride for the Penn State Equestrian Team (just one year) and rode as a kid for a couple of years. I'm a novice by most means, but I did get a ribbon during my one show with Penn State! 

I had a great time during my first night at CFLS and look forward to going back in two weeks!! 

make his, yours

This morning as I got ready for work I threw on some staples; black pants, white dress shirt, and some jewelry. While putting on my make-up and pulling my wet hair up into a messy bun I looked in the mirror and noticed that I hadn't put on a belt. Since all my jewelry was gold I couldn't wear my small black belt because it has a silver buckle (there are times where I am willing to mix my hardware and there are times where I am not!). As I noticed this void in my outfit I expressed "I wish I had a skinny black belt with a gold buckle" at which point Ross, who I had no idea was listening, responded "you can wear mine." I thought this was so sweet, and it actually reminded me of the time I wore his cufflinks to work!
Almost one year ago I packed a french cuff shirt during a sleepover at Ross'. When I got dressed in the morning I noticed that I failed to pack the cufflinks to my shirt (you know, the Brooks Brother's standard white knots!) to which Ross replied, "Here, you can wear mine." At first I hesitated because his cufflinks are monogrammed, but who would really notice? Besides, my other alternative was folding up my french cuff sleeves pre-9AM and that didn't sound very enticing. So in went the cufflinks! At work that afternoon my coworker Cindy exclaimed, "Are those Ross' cufflinks?" The girls got a good laugh and thought it was very considerate of Ross to offer them for my use. When I saw Ross later that evening and shared this story along with "I've always wanted a pair of monogrammed cufflinks" he really listened because a few months later, on December 24th I opened a box which contained a beautiful pair of silver ovals engraved with CAV.
When Ross first offered his belt to share I responded, "No, thank you." I continued getting ready... pittering here... pattering there... and not ten minutes went by before I had Ross' monogrammed belt with the gold buckle on! Ross noticed a few minutes later... and my coworkers noticed a few hours later... but you know what? I don't care! I'm happy to wear Ross' brand (whether it be belt or cufflinks!) and proud to call him my boyfriend :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

rss feed

Thanks for all the love and support, readers! It's so exciting to see my pageviews go up each day (don't worry I disabled my computer from counting!).

If you are nervous about reading my blog in a place you shouldn't be... perhaps between the hours of 9 and 5 I've got some options for you!

1. Subscribe to my blog through Google Reader.  You can simply type in my web address and Google Reader will notify you when there's a new post.

2. Here is a link to a more bland, I mean plain, feed of my posts (RSS):

3. I may create a black and white version for more friendly day reading.

Thanks again for following! Please leave comments... I will read and respond :)

tis the season

I know it's typical for summer's to be slow and for things to pick up after Labor Day but this is almost out of control!! Okay, so I know I have a problem saying no which is likely why my plate is overflowing at the moment but I was a born multitasker, people, I can handle this! Based on the trailers I've seen I feel like my rant on life is going to sound a lot like that movie trailer with Sarah Jessica Parker and Greg Kinnear - "I Don't Know How She Does It."

The next three weekends I'll be out of town, followed by a four day trip to Texas for work training, then a bachelor/ette party, followed by a weekend celebrating my birthday (yay!), another weekend out of town, then two out of town weddings back to back in the beginning of November (which Ross and I are both participating in!)... then comes my trapeze show... Thanksgiving... and possibly a trip to France for a social media conference. That's just my weekends! (Except for Texas.) During the week I've also got 2 hour trapeze class on Tuesdays, Junior League volunteering every other Thursday night for two hours, as well as night-time work events and other Junior League signups. OHMIGOD I am not going to rest until Christmas.

Shoot - rereading that paragraph reminds me that I have to go to Michaels and buy the supplies for a DIY craft that will serve as a number of gifts in the coming weeks (anniversary, birthday, maybe plan ahead for Christmas)!!  I'm making "Stamped Fabric Photo Mats" (via For the Love of Paper - Designs by Kimberly Crawford) to go back in the frames and accompany personal pictures.

Oh, did I mention I'm also event planning on the side? Yeah, helping two friends plan their weddings! (Which is really, really fun by the way.)

I'm crazy. And exhausted. But I will get it done.

french seventy-five

Last night I joined a group of colleagues for a happy hour at the 701 Restaurant in DC. Nice swanky place with fun cocktails! I was really excited to try a new drink (for me!) so I wasn't even tempted to scan the drink menu.

This little baby is what's called a, "French 75". My friend and co-worker, Laurie, introduced me to them. She's a fan because "it's the only way I can drink champagne!" (Something tells me this will be occupying her flute on her wedding day!)

It's a really simple drink that you can order at any bar; a combination of gin, champagne, lemon juice, and a bit of sugar (simple syrup). My drink last night was not too sweet, I could still taste the tartness of the lemon while the sweetness of the champagne left a lasting impression on my palette!

But what's more impressive than the drink is it's background story! Thank you, Bryan for sharing this wonderful history with me!

The combination of ingredients was sweet and delicious, but when 
you finish you feel like you just got hit by a French 75. For all you 
non-gun-slinging folks out there (a.k.a., ME!) a French 75 is a very 
powerful gun also nicknamed a "75 Cocktail".

I didn't have quite this reaction to my glass, but I'll admit... it is a potent little one. Can't wait to have some more, though! This is definitely going to be joining my list of go-to cocktails. So, thanks again, Laurie ;-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

flying high

Last night was the second week of my IFW at TSNY DC - the class decided to coordinate a sparkle theme which really turned out great. My favorite was our instructor Will who really took it to the next level...

Now on to the flying... as some of you are aware, I started learning my swings the last week of my mini-IFW in August. Last night was my third class doing swings. This is an integral stage of learning trapeze since the momentum from your swings add height and expand your arsenal of tricks! However some of the timing and movements are counter-intuitive so it takes a lot of concentration while at the same time trying not to over-think things. I'm not sure if my instructors added a trick on to the end of my swings because it would take my mind off the "back-forward-straight-hollow-sweep-seven" calls of the swings and give me something else to focus on... or if they really believed that my swings were solid enough to add a trick at the back end. But whatever the reason - I was so beyond excited!!

Here's a helpful guide to the swinging and what adding swings into a trick looks like. Okay, so I admit, I drew this for my own use, but hey - I like to help educate my readers in all things trapeze!

I learned the back-end straddle whip, which means I get to step on top of the lines before my take-off. My instructor dubbed it the "rope diaper" which I will now forever refer to it as! When you jump off the platform the first swing is backwards (which is very counterintuitive since you're moving forward!) - but after some helpful guidance I was able to get that down. So your first time out you go backward ("sweep"), forward ("hollow"), straight (I focus on pulling my toes down to the ground to help stretch me out!).

On the back it's forward (going against the grain again, which is why learning your swings is such hard work!), backward, trick!! So as soon as you get back near the platform you take off from you very quickly set-up in trick position. Since this was my first night adding a back-end trick, I was a little sloppy and my legs bent going into the straddle. You hold your trick position for the third swing out and whip open to catch the catcher!! I did not attempt to catch this trick, however I was told that I can next week.... CAN'T WAIT!!

Thanks, Tracey for capturing the video of my trick last night!!

Here's a photo of my class and fabulous instructors from sparkle night!!

If you ever have any questions in trapeze or interest in getting involved... there are a number of schools in a lot of cities, please don't hesitate to reach out! TSNY, where I fly in DC, has school in 5 cities... click here for some more information and stay tuned for next week's tie-dye theme along with a (hopefully) catch on my back-end straddle whip!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

for the love of social media

I've officially submitted a claim for my blog on Technorati!! This is really exciting, I feel like my social media universe keeps growing each moment of every day. It's quite exhilarating and thankfully, I am able to keep up with it... for now.

Some of my accounts are connected, while others are not, but I am equally friendly on all of theme, so please don't hesitate to reach out, comment, follow or friend me!

Twitter: LadyXVII
YouTube: Caitlin Viole's Channel <-- lots of flying trapeze videos on here!!
Linkedin: Caitlin Viole
Facebook: Caitlin Viole

I've also dabbled in enterprise based networks such as Yammer, Socialcast, and Chatter. Have you ever used these tools? What are the benefits you get from them?

Monday, September 19, 2011


During our four hour drive out to Penn State this weekend Ross and I got to enjoy the benefits of our new XM radio subscription! This was such an unexpected feature when we went car shopping. And we are still trying to figure out which stations we like best. For now I am partial to 20 on 20, The Blend, 80s on 8, and 90s on 9. I also am loving the fact that Z100 from New York City has a station since I grew up listening to The Z Morning Zoo!

One song that I heard a handful of times was "Faster" by Matt Nathansosn. It sounded vaguely familiar during the first play and I was surprised that I was casually singing along with a few of the lyrics. Then on it's second play I decided to shazam it and that's when it clicked... I have this song on my spotify playlists because the program recommended the song to me recently. It's really catchy and fun to listen to! The rest of his CD "Modern Love" is also worth a listen.

Check it out here and let me know what you think :)

host with the most

Saturday was the wedding shower for my dear friend and college roommate, Rebecca and her fiance, Michael. We all went to Penn State together and they're incorporating the blue and white color scheme into their wedding!

To launch the activities of their wedding we had a Jack & Jill shower at Rebecca's parents home! This was hosted by the bridal party (myself and six other lovely ladies; college friends and the bride's sisters) and her parents. The day's events really represented the couple well. We had yummy snacks like cheese and crackers and fruit salad. As well as some beer and vino... and of course some apple cider to welcome in the fall weather!

 As I mentioned earlier, the color scheme is blue and white which we incorporated into a number of different aspects such as tableware, favors, and gifts for the couple! For party favors the bridesmaids rounded up two dozen mason jars with the dry ingredients for chocolate chip cookies and chewy brownies!! Each jar was topped with a piece of fabric, either blue or white, and a recipe with the additional wet ingredients, time and temperature was tied to the necks. This was a really great favor that all the bridesmaids were able to partake in.

As a gift from the bridal party, I painted a wooden sign with the married couple's new last name and "established 2011". It came out really great!! The background is painted a navy blue (though it looks a bit lighter in this picture) and the font was an off-white. I also lightly brushed some off-white on the edges and sanded and wiped these parts for a distressed look.

I didn't use a stencil! This was done free-hand while
Hurricane Irene stormed right outside the window :)

For activities we printed out The Good Wife's Guide from Housekeeping Monthly in 1955! Michael read a number of these "expectations" out loud which was really funny for the whole party. If you have not seen or read this article, check it out here! After this we started the newlyweds game... who knows each other better?! The bridesmaids had previously collected the answers to a number of questions. When Rebecca and Michael were asked to guess their partner's response it was really rather comical! Rebecca won with 11 out of 18, but Michael wasn't far behind with 8. The prize options were a bag of baby carrots (because what bride isn't on a wedding diet!) and a bag of M&M's. Rebecca chose the baby carrots and then also got the Penn State koozie!!

We got back into town yesterday and I haven't had a chance to upload my pictures yet... so I'll share more photographs of the party later tonight or tomorrow!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

the creamery!

Yesterday I took Ross on a quick driving tour of campus! I pointed out my freshman year dorm, lecture halls, the nittany lion statue, the church where Rebecca and Michael will get married in November. Then we parked and made our way to the Creamery!

I've been talking about Penn State ice cream for so long he was real eager to try it. We ordered a bowl of Bittersweet Mint (mint chocolate chip) and WPSU Coffee Break (coffee ice cream with chocolate pieces). We did some damage but didn't come close to finishing either one :)

One of the great things about the Creamery is that they have dry ice and will pack up ice cream for your long drive home!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

weekend fun!

Boom - it's after 5PM on a Friday and I'm still working, but that's okay!! Because as soon as I'm done I get to pack my bags for Penn State this weekend. I have not been back to my alma mater since Senior year. I did graduate a semester early, but I went back to visit my roommates that Spring... two and a half years ago! I can't believe I haven't been back to Happy Valley since then. Also, I'm really looking forward to sharing my love of nittany lions, creamery ice cream, west halls, and the quads with Ross. Hopefully I can keep him somewhat entertained and pull out those random tidbits of information I could spatter out like a professional tour guide. If not, I'm sure he'll politely follow my hops, skips, and jumps down Pollock Road thinking to himself "I don't care, I didn't go here."
The catalyst for bringing me back to campus is my college roommate's wedding shower!! Tomorrow afternoon we'll all be gathering at her parent's house for a Jack & Jill style shower.

Here's a picture of the bride (top-right), myself (bottom-left), and two other bridesmaids at the Nittany Lion statue after graduation. We were all roommates throughout our time at Penn State... maybe we'll recreate this picture over the weekend?!
Do you go back to visit your college or university often? What do you miss most about your campus and what do you look forward to during a visit?

i have a theme after all

As some of you may know, Patent Leather Shoes used to have a theme; fashion. My tag line was "trend spotting and trend setting" - I happen to still really love this tag line, but I found that it was no longer applicable as I relaunched my blog.

I stopped posting about two years ago because I felt constrained and forced to write on specific topics. Posting wasn't fun anymore, it was work and took effort. And while I will still post about fashion and trends now, I have more freedom to go outside that box. I'll talk about weekend plans, cooking, crafting, a random thought... anything that I might be doing and interested in sharing! This was much more appealing as I relaunched this past August. Hence my new tag line "'s all about me!"

Unfortunately (or fortunately), my vision for a theme-less blog has been disrupted. It seems that I have a theme after all. It's one would call a "lifestyle blog" because as my friend Nev put it "well it's about your life and your style and your preferences... right?" Okay, Nev, I suppose your right. I'll through in the towel and admit defeat. I have a themed blog after all.

But this can be a good thing... now when I market my blog and my posts I'll have new hashtags to put into the mix!! So, if you're on twitter follow me at @LadyXVII (the XVII stands for seventeen... the date of my birthday which is next month!) and also keep track of my new hashtag #lifestyleblog!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

days fly by

Ay yay yay! Have you ever had a day where you look at the clock and are just shocked at how much time has passed by? Recently I have been so busy at work it seems this is the case more often than not.

It's a busy week for me - lots of meetings with lots of important people. Though tomorrow will be the "creme de la creme" with our CEO coming into town for a quarterly assembly! I have been busy busy getting all the details in order and logistics straightened out. Now the team is ready to roll.

However, if I have to wake up at 6:45 again to work on powerpoint slides while sitting on my couch forcing my eyes to stay open I will not be a happy camper!!

On a happier note - Ross and I got our first car together last night!! We leased a Hyundai Elantra and are soooo excited to use it during our trip up to State College, PA this weekend! I am also really looking forward to posting all about the DIY crafts I did for the wedding shower we're going to. Being a bridesmaid is so much fun and I did not want to spoil the surprises for the gifts and favors to the bride, so I have been very hush hush about the shower planning on her. I promise to include an elaborate post with a party recap when we get back into town on Sunday.

Also... last night was my first class in my Intensive Flying Workshop (IFW) for the fall! It's so nice to back on the trapeze after two weeks off, even if my palms are burning and tender from swinging for two hours. Next week the whole class will be in glitters and sparkles, so I'll be sure to include some videos and photos of all!

More pictures/posts of cars and crafts as soon as my life resumes a normal pace :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

essie colors for fall

Correction, my lovely blog readers (and I do mean lovely - after all, I had 165 page views yesterday!! Thanks for the love, y'all!) - my essie nail polish color is called "Carry On" not "Catch Up". It's a new color in their Fall 2011 line - I feel so trendy having it on without knowing it was from their new line (thanks for the gift, Mom!).

Thank you, Krista, for sharing your love of essie nail polish with me because you helped me correct my previous post. You have also given me an itch to stop at Bed Bath & Beyond on my way home from work to pick up "Power Clutch" - that is one fab dark gray polish that I can't wait to get my fingers and toes on this fall.

What's your favorite color?
Shop Now Here!!
Also - apologies for a quiet blog today... it's been a busy day!

Monday, September 12, 2011

i can wear dark polish... yay fall!

Let me preface this blog with, I know it is not technically fall, yet. However, it's no longer summer vacation and it's post-Labor day so I have decided this gives me free reign to start embracing the fall season early. Deal with it. Additionally, I much prefer living in places with four distinct seasons as this let's you really appreciate the differences in your wardrobe and accessories. Specifically shoes and nailpolish. Have I mentioned my affinity for boots lately?

Last Friday it was time for my self-mani/pedi (if I had the time, I would paint my fingers and toes every other day or to match my daily outfits!). While I do enjoy sitting in a nail salon getting professional services done, just like any other girl, I really like painting my own nails! Ross claims this is due to my "meticulous nature" (code for OCD). He's probably right, but I digress.  To get ready for fall (or to pretend it's already here) I went with dark colors... yay fall! I believe that the polish on my nails is called "Catch Up" by essie, it's a very dark purple. You actually can't see the purple tint until the light hits it just right. But it is purple, I promise.
Secondly - now that the rain has stopped my suede shoes have come out to play! *Correction, my suede Manolos! So happy to wear these around the office today :)

Cheers, y'all!

i love wine!

Lots of vino consumption this weekend... and there's nothing wrong with that!! On Saturday we were finally blessed with a day of sunshine and blue skies after 5 days of clouds and rain. Ross and I were ready to be outside so we headed off to Delaplane, VA to the Barrel Oak Winery. It's about an hour outside of DC on Route 66 - an easy drive and a fabulous winery. (I can't wait to go back!) The winery is very dog friendly - so if you have a pooch feel free to bring him or her along. They have an outdoor and an indoor tasting bar, the dogs can be at either, and the outside patio has tons of picnic tables! It's quite a beautiful view and relaxing atmosphere - be prepared to spend the afternoon here.

They had horseback riding tours of the vineyard, unfortunately
I did not know this beforehand and I was wearing a skirt :(

I had purchased us a Capitol Deal which included; wine tasting for two, a plate with brie & crackers, two wine glasses, and a $20 credit towards a bottle purchase! This was such a fantastic deal and I was really excited to finally be using it.

 Also, what a great surprise it was running into our friends Dave and Erin while we were out there! We got to enjoy tasting and talking about the different wines together before we ventured outside to split a bottle and enjoy some cheese and crackers. Erin has a blog too, which I think y'all will love, check it out at I Am Quirky. She also talked about our wine adventures this weekend :)
My set-up with glasses, flowers, & snacks for guests.

Sunday brought forth our "Wine Sunday" tradition. Every couple of months Ross and I will host a Wine Sunday with groups of our friends. This whole shindig entails wine, snacks, music, and friends - what's not to love? Our friend, Ric Nelson, started this tradition long before Ross and I were together and I think he is a God-send for doing so. We love love love hosting Wine Sundays!

Each guest is asked to bring one bottle of wine and one snack. This way when everybody comes there is lots of food and drink to go around for all! Typically non-wine drinkers will come stocked in beer, so there's always something for everybody :)
Our friend and co-worker, Nicholas, really out-did himself and brought an Imperial (equivalent to four bottles of wine!). Needless to say, I cannot wait to open this bad boy. Potentially for the Fall Harvest Dinner Party that I'm planning in my head (think apples, pumpkin, and squash).

Hope everybody had great weekends and a great start to their week.

Happy Monday!

PS - don't forget to comment ;-)

midnight snack

Funnel Cakes! What a perfect midnight snack :)

If you ever have a hankering for something sweet around midnight, might I suggest making funnel cakes?! I know, I know, it sounds kind of odd to whip up a batch in your kitchen on request and a few minutes later dust powdered sugar on top. But this is exactly what happened on Friday!

Ross and I had friends over and made some popcorn for munching when Sarah exclaims, "This makes me feel like I'm at a carnival. I wish I had funnel cake." Then Nev responds by searching for a recipe (which is only about 5 ingredients!) and I hop over to the kitchen and start measuring.

Ross helped sift together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, and salt. Then you add milk and an egg. Simple as that!

While you are prepping have a frying pan heating up with some oil on the stove... I used about a quarter inch of oil across the bottom of the pan. The funnel cake does not have to be completely submerged.

Once the batter was ready we used a 1/2 c. measuring cup to pour some batter into our funnel. We have a red silicon collapsible funnel that reminds me of the hats worn in the Whip It music video. Seriously! The funnel sort of blends into my sweater in the top picture, but if you look closely enough you'll notice.

Plug the bottom of the funnel with your finger when you fill it with batter. Then walk over to your hot oil and let your finger go, move the funnel around the oil making a swirly pattern. I think the picture to the left looks like an octopus!

The funnel cake will take about 4 minutes on the first side, then 2 on the other, and 30 seconds again on the first side. I used two plastic spatulas to flip them.

Remove from oil - plop onto a plate with a paper towel. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and ENJOY!!

This was such a great snack... thank you Ross for your help sifting, Sarah for suggesting to make these, Nev for researching the recipe, and Ali for enjoying!!

Friday, September 9, 2011

the hunger games

Last September I volunteered at the National Book Festival with the Junior League of Washington. One of the authors joining the signings was Suzanne Collins, most recently known for writing The Hunger Games trilogy. I was clueless as to what this meant a year ago as I watched teenagers and their parents alike line up in eager anticipation.

A year later after I caught wind of friends and peers reading this series I was intrigued. A friend is now on book 3 and suggested I borrow the first two because she expected I would like it. Morgan - you were right!! I am utterly addicted to these books. Actually sitting here to write about them makes me twitch with excitement and look forward to that moment I can open the book again. Just this afternoon I was thankful for a 9-floor elevator ride so I could squeeze in a few sentences.

I won't provide a synopsis of the story here as you can easily find one online. I would like to say, though, this is one of the most illustrative books I have ever read. I would consider myself a "visual reader" as I can picture everything happen in motion picture while I read books (typically fiction). However, with The Hunger Games it's like I'm not even reading the words. I can vividly see two star-crossed teenage lovers in front of me acting this out.

So, yes... this has a tone similar to Twilight, in that sense. But I promise, if you're looking for a guilty pleasure read, or your new page turner, then The Hunger Games trilogy should be next on your list! You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

my first dinner party!

I now feel like a real adult, I've officially hosted my first dinner party! We had two other couples come over.... Adriel & Katie, and Patrick & Anne. Ross was such a HUGE help - he left the office before I did and picked up the last few items at the store including flowers, lemons, gin & tonic. (All very crucial to the success of the evening!)

As I left the office I gave my mom a ring to check-in and remind her how excited I was (not that she needed a reminder, I was gabbing about the dinner party all weekend in NJ). It's just after 5PM and she asked what I was making (apple, fennel, and celery slaw; cacio & pepe; and engagement chicken), asked me where I was (Virginia), what time my guests were arriving (6:30), and how the heck I would get it all done in time?! This is why preparation is KEY! Get as much as possible done the night prior, ladies.

So as I walk in my door at 5:35 I see that Ross had cleaned and set the table (such a sweetheart!). I quickly jumped into jeans and a Trina Turk blouse (which I got at the Nordstrom anniversary sale and just love) and got chopping! Actually - the first thing I did was check how much time my chicken needed to cook... almost 2 hours! Yikes, better get that puppy in the oven. By 6 I had my "engagement chicken" in the oven, giblets removed, washed and patted dry, coated with lemon juice and s&p, then stuffed with two stabbed lemons (for the juice to leak out), fresh herbs, and four cloves of garlic. Cook it breast side down for 15 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 90 (or so). This is all at 350. And look how tasty and juicy the bird came out!! It was soooo fantastic. When plating... don't forget to pour the pan's drippings on top.

As the chicken was getting cozy in the oven I got to work on the "celery, fennel, and apple slaw" just as Katie and Adriel arrived! Ross was quick to make us some gin and tonics and pour the beers. Pandora was playing on our TV, and the night was off to a good start!!

The celery, fennel, and apple slaw was so delicious! It was really refreshing and quite tangy. I am not a fan of licorice flavors, though I do like fennel and it really spread throughout the dish. It was so tasty, here's a link to the recipe... I highly suggest trying this before the cold weather comes in because I see this as a warm weather dish.

Patrick and Anne arrived while I was still making my slaw and brought with them spinach & artichoke dip, homemade, by Patrick!! It was really delicious with just enough lemon to notice and later complement the chicken! We had a whole grain rosemary round loaf cut up to dip in it, along with some whole wheat crackers. Additionally, we served up some homemade popcorn! Ross and I don't like microwaved popcorn, so we always make it on the stove. (It's really simple... 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/3 cup of kernels, top with salt & pepper!)

People were munching and drinking, the chicken was roasting, and all was good!!

Lastly was the cacio e pepe. I stumbled upon this recipe while browsing my epicurious app. Immediately I knew it would have to be part of our night's menu. I have not had cacio e pepe since I was in Italy!! It's really easy to make, as there are only five ingredients!! Spaghetti, butter, pepper, parmesan cheese, and pecorino romano cheese. Here's a link to the recipe, though note it's only for six ounces of pasta. I multiplied everything by 2 2/3 to make a whole pound for all six of us.

Everybody enjoyed sitting down to such a delicious meal with great company. I'll cheers to that!!

And then came clean-up... those boys did such a good job ;-)

*All of these recipes are courtesy of