Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tree Teaser

My little 700 square feet are about as decked out for Christmas as they can be!   S2H and I got our tree about two weeks ago and I have been fussing over it ever since!  I turn on the lights as soon as I wake up in the morning and as soon as I get home from work!  I am still trying to get the perfect picture, so until then here are some photos from our tree hunt (aka visiting the Knights of Columbus at Church and having a nice "dad" like figure tie it onto the 1994 Toyota Camry...holllaa)!!

{in front of the little red "sleigh"}

{S2H insisted on taking his traditional tree pic with Lou...we really need Santa to bring us a puppy!}

Monday, December 13, 2010

Night at the Nidos

One of the highlights of my Thanksgiving weekend was a sleepover with the Nidos.  This house just glows with holiday cheer, so it was just what I needed to get into the Christmas spirit.  A meal with this culinary family is indescribable so I'll just show you with pictures!  Nido Mom showed me how to make bread and I snuggled up to Nido Dad to figure out just how he makes that vodka pasta so amazing!  And of course sweet Nina and I indulged in beverage or two!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Hello, hello!  The holiday cheer continues!  S2H and I had a great visit with my family in SC and a lot of fun with family friends in Charlotte.  I am still riding the holiday high as S2H and I are going to see Michael Buble tonight!!  I am so excited!  S2H surprised me with tickets on Thanksgiving, and I could not be happier!  I have been dreaming of Buble since and am crossing my fingers for a couple Christmas tunes.  I leave you with the dreamboat himself!  Eeeekk!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!  S2H and I are in SC with my family; enjoying good company, yummy eats, and 75 degree weather!  Have a wonderful long weekend!

{nothing better than beach walks with my two favorite people!}

{so thankful for giselle! xoxo}

Monday, November 22, 2010

Autumn in New Hampshire

Earlier this month S2H and I spent a long weekend visiting my grandparents in coastal New Hampshire. We had perfect Fall weather and spent the three days exploring local apple orchards (I was dying for a New England apple cider donut), a winery, and the beautiful seaside towns.  S2H and I made a point to cross the road in front of my grandparents' house and walk on the beach every day.  There is something so special about the beach during the cold months.  I have millions of pictures from the weekend, but here are some of my favorites.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Game Day Food Blitz

Many a Fall Sunday is spent watching football in my small abode. Well, I'm not the hugest football fan so to keep myself entertained I have tried to mix up our game day food menu this year.  Below are the top recipes S2H and I have tried this year.  I can't say our waistlines were always thankful but our taste buds were definitely doing the touchdown dance!

Ham & Cheese Sliders
courtesy of Annie's Eats, recipe here

These little guys are packed with flavor between the mustard, onion, and poppy seeds.  We tried the sandwiches on both potato rolls and mini wheat slider rolls,  I preferred the potato rolls and I am sure Hawaiian sweet rolls would be even better.

Beef Chili
courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, recipe here

This chili is a hearty treat for the weekend.  It is full of veggies like carrots, bell pepper and beans (I added more than the recipe said for all of them).  The chili is more on the thick side and doesn't have too much soupy-ness.  We served it with biscuits one day and then orzo the next day.  I'm sure it would be wonderful on nachos too!

Crockpot Pulled Pork
recipe adapted from Beantown Baker
(spice rub)
2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 (6 pound) pork tenderloin

1/4 cup of water
1 bottle of lager (we used Yuengling)
2 cups barbecue sauce

Mix all spice rub ingredients in small bowl.

Massage spice rub into meat (I recommend doing this on a jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet with sides). Wrap tightly in double layer of plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. For stronger flavor, the roast can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. (I refrigerated ours for 1 day).

Unwrap roast and place it in slow cooker liner. Add 1/4 cup water and bottle of lager. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 8-10 hours, until meat is fork-tender.

Transfer roast to cutting board (again, I used a large cookie sheet with sides. This helped to contain the mess); discard liquid in liner. Pull by tearing meat into thin shreds with two forks or your fingers. Discard fat.

Place shredded meat back in slow cooker liner; toss with 1 cup barbecue sauce (or more depending on your taste), and heat on low for 30-60 minutes, until hot. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

I think this was S2H's favorite meal of the season so far, it was such a treat!  I made the coleslaw using this recipe.

Texas Caviar
courtesy of In No Simple Language
This recipe is my favorite of the bunch.  It is a super simple dip and the fresh avocado is really tasty.  It is the best thing to ever land on a frito! This dip travels well and only gets better as it marinates, I have brought it to two different tailgating events and it is always a huge hit!  So good that I have yet to take a picture of it, I get all consumed in eating it! 

2 Cans of black eyed peas with jalapenos (my store didn't carry this type so I just added my own jalapenos)
1 Can original Rotel
2 Medium sized avocados
1 Large green bell pepper
1/2 Large purple onion
1 Lime
3/4 Cup Zesty Italian

Directions :
Dice avocados, bell pepper & onion and put in large bowl. Cut lime in half and squeeze juice over avocados, bell pepper & onion. The lime is to give flavor and preserve the avocado. Place black eyed peas in strainer and rinse then, add to add to bowl. Poor can of Rotel in the bowl with it's juice. Finally, add the Zesty Italian. Mix with a large spoon. Don't stir too hard or much as the avocados could get smushy depending on the ripeness you buy.

If you try to eat the dip right away, the bell pepper and onion will be quite crunch. It is best if the bowl sits in the fridge and everything marinates for a while.  Delicious with fritos, tortilla chips, sun chips, anything to deliver it to your mouth!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Help Make Dreams Come True

And vote for sweet Nina!  Nina is competing for a blogger spot with Nature Made.  Our Nina would be the perfect "good mood" blogger so vote every day here!

In honor of Mrs. Nina I am sharing one of the recipes straight from her family's kitchen.  Like I always say, magic comes from the Nido Kitchen, and this recipe does not disappoint!  Once you have a bite you will be voting for Nina every day!

Italian Mac & Cheese

1 lb. of Hot Italian Turkey Sausage
1 lb. of Gemelli pasta (or small elbows)
1 Large can of diced seasoned tomatoes (or 2 of the standard size cans)
1 & 1/2 Bags of Four Cheese Italian Shredded Cheese
1 Egg, beaten
Garlic powder (or minced garlic)
Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil

*Preheat over to 400

-Cook pasta according to the box instructions, drain, set aside
-Remove casings from sausage, cook in skillet, breaking apart with a wooden spoon.  Once fully cooked drain any excess oil and set aside.

-Put pasta and sausage in baking pan, I use a Corningware rectangular pan.
-Add tomatoes, 1-1/12 bags of cheese, then I usually add some additional Parmesan.  
- Add salt and freshly ground pepper.  
-Add one egg beaten, then add, Italian seasoning and also minced garlic or garlic powder (to taste).  
-Pour enough milk just below the top of the pasta.   Now, mix it all up with a large spoon!  All the spices, milk, tomatoes, egg, etc.  
-The last thing to do is to sprinkle (generously) some Progresso/or other Italian bread crumbs over the top of the pasta.  Over that....drizzle some olive oil to taste.  Not too much, but just drizzle all around the top.  
- Cover with aluminum foil, put in 400 oven for 30 min or so to cook together and heat up.  
-Once cheese is melted and bread crumbs browned, remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes and serve!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tortellini Soup

I love soup, and my soup craving always gets stronger as I pull out sweaters and boots.  I like my soup to have lots of things in it and just the right amount of broth...not too slurpy.  I saw this soup from the Culinary Couple a few months ago and instantly book marked it.  The weather this past weekend was just screaming for soup so S2H and I got to work! This meal far exceeded my expectations and will definitely be a repeat this winter!

Tortellini Soup
·         1/2 lb. sweet Italian turkey sausage 
·         1 cup onion, chopped
·         2 cloves garlic, minced
·         5 cups beef broth (I recommend low sodium, just so you can control the salt level)
·         1/3 cup water
·         1/2 cup red wine
·         1 can whole tomatoes
·         1 cup carrots
·         1/2 teaspoon basil
·         1/2 teaspoon dried oregano flakes
·         1 cup tomato sauce
·         2 zucchini, chopped
·         8 oz. cheese tortellini (I used the Bertolli three cheese and garlic tortellini)
·         1 package or 1 bag fresh spinach
·         Parmesan cheese
    1. In large pot, cook sausage ~5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside.
    2. Add onion and garlic. Saute.
    3. Add broth, herbs,  wine, tomato sauce, vegetables (except zucchini and spinach), and sausage. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered ~30 minutes.
    4. Add zucchini, spinach, and tortellini. Simmer ~25 minutes.
    5. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve with your favorite  bread.
    P.S.  S2H and I have a house guest this week...Louie is back!! Pretty sure a Fall photo shoot is in order! :)

    {how cute is this face! makes me smile!}

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Just What the Doctor Ordered

    This weekend was blissfully low key.  Just what I was craving after a week on the road for work and a month of busy weekends and lots of "to dos."  S2H and I kicked off the weekend with a double date at Sweetwater Tavern.  We were accompanied by the lovely Bree and Tommy.  We love Sweetwater this time of year because they brew the most a-m-a-z-i-n-g pumpkin beer.  We wait all year for this beer to hit the tap list...it is so perfect and the brown sugar glass garnish is too good for words.  It was so fun catching up with Bree and Tommy, in fact after sitting at the table longer than the busy staff wished we headed to B&T's to finish off some take away pumpkin beer.  I wish I had taken a pic of B&T's sweet pup, Sadie and Sydney the cat - they were both such sweetie pies.  S2H spent the car ride home talking about how we must get a dog!
    Saturday I woke up to pumpkin muffins and french pressed coffee...way to go S2H!  I spent the morning bumming around the house munching on muffins and watching DVR.  I was very disappointed to see that Mondo didn't win Project Runway...I'm just not a Gretchen fan.  But the Halloween episode of Modern Family made me laugh at loud!  I finally forced myself out of my fuzzy slippers and headed out to get a mani/pedi.  I went for essie's downtown brown and love it...minus the fact that my flats smudged my big toe!  How that happened I have no idea, I sat under the dryer for 30 minutes!  S2H and some friends joined the masses in DC for the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.  I met them for a late lunch after it was all over.  I had planned to go but decided I would find more sanity with a little pampering!

    I completely bailed on Halloween this year...I didn't even get a pumpkin!  So costumes were completely off the table.  Instead of dressing up we spent the evening cheering on Penn State!  I lit a pumpkin candle and called it a success (thanks for the candle Erin & Jen!).  It also helped that I made an awesome tortollini soup with rosemary bread for dinner!  (soup recipe to come later this week)
    {this soup is perfect for a crisp fall weekend.  i ate it all weekend!}
    S2H and I woke up bright and early on Sunday to support our friend, Erin, as she ran her first marathon. Erin had a lofty goal of finishing the Marine Corps Marathon in under 3 hours (crazy!!)!  And guess what?!  She totally rocked it!  Her final time was 2.59.56!  Holy moly this girl can move. We followed her all across Arlington and DC, I got a high just from watching her, so determined and strong!

    You can see Erin's take on the race here.  Congrats Erin, you're amazing!  We spent the rest of Sunday with the MCM support crew celebrating Erin's success.  I'm back on the road again for work today.  Hopefully I will get a few posts out from the hotel!  Happy Wednesday!

    Saturday, October 30, 2010

    Day Trippin'

    Living in Northern Virginia is great, there is always something going on in the DC area, plenty to see and do. However, every once in awhile it is wonderful to escape the city and explore some of the great a places surrounding the DC metro area.  This past summer I treated S2H to a "day date" in Saint Michaels, MD.  St.Michaels is a gorgeous historic town on the Eastern Shores of Maryland.  On a good day it takes about two and a half hours to drive there, we won't talk about the summer traffic and the battle that is getting over the Bay Bridge!
    I knew S2H would love this little town.  You can walk to a brewery, winery, and some awesome seafood restaurants all in a matter of minutes!  We started off our afternoon day date at St.Michaels winery.  The winery was super cute and rustic. I loved it!  We sat at the bar and each had the "staff favorites" wine sampler.  It was really fun chatting with the staff and hearing about how the winery was started and all the awards they have won.  The guy started the winery pretty much on a whim.  He was burnt out from his DC job (uuhh, I know the feeling) and loved St.Michaels and thought a winery would do well there.  Lucky for him it has been a huge success and become very popular!  All the wines were pretty tasty, and kept getting better with every sip! ;)  I'm not much of a wine expert so I'll just talk about the most unique wine they had.  They make a chocolate wine!  No joke, it is infused with dark chocolate...right up my ally.  This Chocolate Zinfandel is pretty sweet but I was sold when the wine lady told me it makes an awesome raspberry chocolate sauce...in the bag it went!  I can't wait to make a little creation to go on top of vanilla ice cream!

    The whole day date was a surprise for S2H and the main part of the surprise was a massage at the Linden Spa of The Inn at Perry Cabin.  The Inn is gorgeous; set right on a little point on the shore with beautiful views and Adirondack chairs covering the lawn.  I left S2H at the spa for the "athlete's relief" massage and hung out at the Inn watching the sail boats go by...it was such a relaxing two hours!  S2H came out of the spa happy as a clam and ready to hit the brewery!
    The Eastern Shore Brewing Company visit was a great way to end the day.  The brewery had a rustic/cozy tasting room and a crazy, eccentric bartender to boot.  Bartender Rusty had been pretty buzzed all day... I think since the night before as he told us he had gone to a huge rager.  We were the last customers of the day so Rusty decided he would drink with us.  He and S2H even shared the "Rusty Rocket."  A lovely shot of pale ale and hot sauce...yikes!  Needless to say Rusty provided some great entertainment and S2H left with the dream of running his own brewery!

    We spent the rest of the day window shopping and I picked up a Christmas Ornament as a trip souvenir. I found a little sailboat ornament at an all things Christmas Shop...I could have spent hours in there!  You can tell by the pictures that we had a cloudy day which was perfect for walking around. The rain came just as we stopped for dinner...perfect timing!  Our seafood dinner was so so, definitely didn't leave an impression since I have no food photos!  Next time we will definitely have to search for a better dinner spot.   All in all it was a perfect day trip, I would highly recommend St.Michaels to anyone who can make the trip!

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Etsy Halloween Finds

    Not sure what I am really loving-this little cutie or the stripped leggings and tutu!  Got a little one or can't resist buying this for a friend? Click here.

    I just couldn't help myself!  A little ode to my hometown - Charlotte, NC! Y'all interested? Find it here. I think I may head to the craft store and try and make my own!

    You can find the best inspiration on Etsy.  This Halloween garland would be perfect for a play room or party.  I don't have a sewing machine but I think this is totally do-able if you have one.  For my fellow friends lacking the sewing skill click here.

    If I had a kiddo in the tutu costume I would have to have a party to show off the adorableness.  I love these paper invites.  They kind of remind me of Charlie Brown!  Definitely need to figure out when It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown comes on :).  Click here.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Hopin', Wishin' & Prayin'

    ...for FRIDAY! Oh man people, this has been a rough week. Rough as in I am currently eating mac & cheese out of a box and biscuits with butter and I DO NOT CARE! To boot I have taken over the tv and am catching up on all my Bravo reality shows, Flipping Out seems very appropriate right now. I know I am wallowing, but plan to let it go after tonight. I want to enjoy the fun weekend S2H and I have planned, so once I finish this biscuit I am forgetting about work and the events of this week! The weekend agenda includes date night, tailgate party, and lots of time in the kitchen. We plan to see The Town. Has anyone seen it, yay/nay?

    To help take my mind off things I have been perusing the webs for a little bit of cheer.  In case you are in my boat-praying for Friday to come, here is a little distraction to help get you through the work day!

    how cool is this water bottle? genius! i wish i would have thought of this!

    after eating 1,000 calories tonight maybe i'll cut back this weekend and sip on these.

    this brought back cozy childhood memories!  my family used to vacation in maine every summer.  my parents actually met in maine in their teens during a family vacation! not sure i remember ME being particularly aromatic though...

    i'll be making these pumpkin cookies for the tailgating party, yum! for sunday steelers i'll be treating S2H to chili!

    digging the photo above?  check out the rest of stephanie rausser's work here.  very fresh.

    if only i could wear these leggings and a hoodie to work tomorrow...might make the day bearable.  i think a pumpkin spice latte will have to do.

    these two girls are inspiring!  i might just have to start a thursday girls night!

    That's all for now sweetsies!  Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Sunshiny Sweet Takes Penn State...Mac Clan Style

    This past weekend S2H and I headed to the great tailgating land known as Penn State!  It was perfect weather for a football game, sunny and a crisp 70 degrees (much more pleasant than my previous PSU game).  We loaded up the mini-van with chili, buffalo chicken dip, apple crisp, and as many Mac Family football fans as we could fit and took off for Happy Valley!  Once in Happy Valley we met up with S2H's brother and sister-in-law (also PSU grads) and their two girls.  All in all it was a good showing of Macs, including S2H's mom and dad, Aunt Nancy & Uncle Jim.

    {check out that yummy spread, color coordinated of course!  how cute is little em?! and yes, jen and i have such good taste that we went for the same white-out t-shirt for the game (had to do a wardrobe change as i was originally in blue).}
    We tailgated before the 3:30pm kick-off and had fun catching up and tossing around the football.  We also talked about the revival of my blog, which Uncle Jim fondly referred to as "Sunshiny Sweet!" Hahaha...I knew I was going to have to use that for the blog post title! :)

    {the whole gang!}

    Penn State played Temple this weekend and it was a pretty close game in the beginning, but Penn State had some big plays in the end and won 22-13 .  I can't really say that I was paying too much attention to the game though.  We were sitting right next to the student section and their was plenty of action in the stands to keep me entertained.
    {joepa taking his rightful place on the field, nittany crowd surfing, best student section ever}
    We couldn't have asked for a better Fall day or tailgating crew!  For the next game we are off to the "Alexandria, VA" PSU Campus for a little local tailgating action.  Any food ideas for me?  I'm thinking of making football cupcakes or something pumpkin!  Let me know if you have any suggestions.  Cheers to Football Season!

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    A Tasty Goodbye

    This week officially ends the summer season.  But you wouldn't know it with the sweltering 90 degree days, so S2H and I embraced the weather and went out for bbq!  BBQ holds a special place in my heart since my love with S2H officially blossomed in Kansas City, MO.  And we all know that KC is the mid-west bbq capital!  I also love going out for bbq because it is definitely something I can't whip up at home.

    We headed over to Rockland's BBQ, an Arlington staple.  Rockland's has a homey feel with its rustic decor and friendly staff.  You can tell the owner has a lot of heart, not only for food, but for pups!  Every Thursday you get a free pulled pork sandwich if you bring your pup along to dine.  It is the cutest thing ever!  The patio has a nice little corner with doggie treats and K-9 toys.  S2H was swooning, another pro for us getting a dog!  
    {give you an idea of the charm}
    I was already smiling when we took our seat next to the K-9 gang with my mint sweet tea but I was glowing when the food came out!  Baked mac & cheese, coleslaw, and tomato/vinegar pulled pork (brisket for S2H). Yuummm-o.  And the bbq sauce was to die for, almost good enough for swimming!

    We finished off the meal with an S2H style dessert...a pitcher of Blue Moon.  It was so nice to take a moment and sip some yummy brew and talk about how fun the summer has been. It has been a whirlwind season with weddings and family visits.  I hope the Fall brings just a many fun memories and moments with family and friends!

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Summer Flash Back: Family Vacation

    Summer solstice is right around the corner, closing out the hottest season EVER on September 21st. And I can't let the summer end without posting about my one beach trip of the year!  This beach trip was a big one for me as it was my first family vacation with S2H's huge clan!  I'm talking multiple houses on the Outer Banks to hold the all the aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings!  It was crazy, I have never experienced such a family vacation.  The Mac Clan does not mess around.  They have organized dinners, activities, beach tents, and happy hours!  Yes, each house choses a theme, a night and they host a happy hour for everyone else with goodies and drinks. Hippie Happy Hour below...we even made tie-die shirts!
    {See-HUGE Family, and there are peeps missing from this picture!  I'm on the right with a baby (I'm squinting-not cute)...S2H has 7 baby nieces and nephews so everyone pretty much got to hold a baby!}
    S2H has been going to the Outer Banks since he was 10, and this planned family craziness is a tradition.  Another tradition the Mac Clan has is the annual family photo on the beach.  Now this may be the usual for most of you, but the OD's are not a group photo bunch.  And definitely not a coordinated clothes family!  S2H's sister decided on white shirts and khaki pants for the picture.  I worried for weeks about what to wear for my first Mac family photo opportunity!  The ladies in the Mac Clan are fit- as in they have four babies and still stay teeny tiny, so I was a little self conscious.  Here are wind-blown results:
    {S2H's immediate family...hello kiddos!}
    {Each sibling got their own individual "family" pic, including me and S2H! Hahaha}
    The wind was absolutely insane on the beach.  The whole time I was trying to swing the hair out of my face.  Not a good look.
    {Me and baby Jake, and proof that I did try and have luscious beach locks for the picture}
    Overall, it was an amazing week and I really enjoyed the quality time with the Mac Clan.  Everyone was very warm and welcoming.  Can't wait for next year...any happy hour theme ideas? :)

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    The Bouquet Toss

    S2H and I just attended our third wedding of the summer season.  All have been beautiful and just as special as the happy couples.  I am behind in posting about all these wonderful weddings.  My idea was to feature one wedding every week but I have to go out of order because of the unique events that happened at the wedding this past weekend.  
    Our friends, Jayana and Dan, got married in Dunmore, PA this past weekend and the wedding was straight out of a fairytale.  Jayana has incredible taste and her detail oriented nature shined throughout the whole wedding.  The nuptial mass was also incredibly sweet and they did an amazing job honoring their families. Here are a few pictures to show what I can't put into words!

    {the gorgeous reception at the Scranton Cultural Center, Jayana started dancing here when she was 5!}

    {S2H and I meet Jayana through work, here is the rest of the work crew and table mates}

    {i was swooning over the details, this candy bar was color coordinated and to-die-for. monogrammed to-go bags included!}

    {chocolate fountain...no words}

    I could go on and on with pictures of this gorgeous event, it was just amazing.  The wedding was also a lot of fun, just like the couple!  In the middle of all the dancing they took a pause for the bouquet/garder toss.  I usually try to steer clear of this tradition but their were too many people pushing me towards the center for me to resist.  I stood off to the side with all the single ladies and did my best to keep towards the edge of the action.  Well guess what?  That pile of roses came right at me!!

    {see me to the right.  i was so shocked!  and about 5 shades of red! p.s. how gorgeous is jayana!?}

    {now the mortifying part, the garder!  i had no idea what to do and was wishing for a strong beverage!}

    Can you believe it?!  Quite the eventful wedding for me.  I can only imagine the pictures and video footage...hello awkward Meghan faces!  Hopefully they will get misplaced during a freak accident.  Anyways, it was a beautiful wedding and I feel so blessed that S2H and I were able to share in the celebration of two amazing people!  Congrats Jayana & Dan!