Bring it 2012!

Posted on December 29, 2011. Filed under: Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Where did 2011 go?! There are only a handful of hours left in the year and I don’t even remember if I made any resolutions that I have neglected – gah! I have decided that I am going to ‘pen’ (or blog) my 2012 resolutions to better help hold myself accountable, but before I can think about what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year let me take a moment to reflect on where I’ve been in 2011.

2011 year in review…
Overall 2011 seemed to treat me pretty well. I was able to finally get married to the absolute best man in the world, and it was a beautiful day. It was absolutely lovely and I could not have asked for more from that! The wedding is definitely falling into the wonderful category of things that 2011 gave me. I was able to attend a few management courses that really opened my eyes up to how young I am and how much I have the ability to achieve. It has definitely made me want to take the bull by the horns in 2012 and start doing things for me instead of everyone else. That is a powerful feeling.

2011 wasn’t all rainbows and happiness though. There was a lot of unnecessary drama and strife that did not need to be a part of my year. Having survived the year I can really reflect and say that wow, I have learned a lot! Life has a funny way of really pushing you to limits you didn’t realize you had. I am a strong woman, and every time something pushes me a bit further I realize just how much stronger I am – that is a powerful feeling people!

Having all of this, mostly, behind me I want to make sure that 2012 is one for the record books in a great way. I want to set out some initial resolutions and goals to help me stay on a good track this year. Here goes for my resolutions…

2012 Resolutions

Be a healthier me. I do my best to work out and eat healthy when I can, what I want to start doing is making this more of a priority. If you need an excuse to get out of working out, give me a call – I could easily rattle at least 20 excuses off of the top of my head. In 2012 I want to try to make working out part of my everyday, or most days, routine. Really focus in on getting some cardio, doing my pilates and trying new things. I love doing BodyPump (by Les Mills) but I want to expand, try some yoga at a yoga studio and work some dance into my weekly routine. I really believe that keeping your workouts fresh helps you stay engaged in them, and that is the path I want to set out on in 2012. As for eating, I am very good with portion size, so I just need to keep that up, but where I could use some work is planning my meals out in advance. I get into ruts where I feel busy and choose working out over cooking and then come home to chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. I really enjoy cooking, it is just so much fun to me (I even have a blog of my cooking adventures: and I know that there are ways I can cook good, hearty meals in a small amount of time. I just need to reframe my thinking – the 1/2 hour I spend watching The New Girl is 1/2 hour I could spend whipping up a better meal than chicken nuggets…

Carve Out More Time for Myself. I have been told that I am a giving person, and that is such a wonderful compliment. I love giving – whether it be gifts, my time or money I enjoy helping where I can. Helping others too often sometimes leaves me stressed out and wishing I could be doing other things which builds up such resentment. I need to learn how to better carve out some quiet time for myself and activities I enjoy doing and I need to do them. I joined a book club so I want to make sure that I keep up with that in the New Year. It is something I like and it is a group of women that I do not normally socialize with so it is refreshing every month when we meet. I think being able to learn how to better say ‘No’ without guilt will allow me to improve myself overall. I think I could even squeeze in some cooking classes and dance classes to help with my resolution above, which is extra positive!

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. A hobby of mine is worrying. I’m not sure how I fell into this rut, or why, maybe it’s because I’m the oldest child and live the farthest away from my folks but I’m here. I have started making great strides this year in not sweating the really small stuff. One huge victory – on my wedding day our limo ran out of gas, I took a deep breath and just laughed it off. I decided the Monday after the wedding I would be able to deal with that dilemma but on our big day it was definitely not the stress we needed, and that was definitely a HUGE improvement on my ‘normal’ behavior. This is something I want to keep working on. If there is nothing I can do to change it then I just need to stick it to the wall and walk away; just time to let it go. I think I can definitely accomplish this. The small changes I have made so far in just letting things go have made a good difference, and one that a few folks have complimented me on. It’s nice to have people note that you are able to let certain things go and have a good outlook. I am still always going to be a NJ girl so I’ll still always be the first to stick up for the underdog and myself and not let bigger things go, but the small things – just chalk them up to life and move on. I can do this!

Start Journaling. I have become very good at making books, I bind them and fix them up all beautiful and then I give them away. In keeping with doing things for myself, I’m going to make a book or two just for me, and it will be fab! I think journaling is a great way to let some stress of the day out and remember what is important. I plan to focus a bit on what went on during the day, and what made me smile that day. I think that years from now looking back on these journals will be a fun reminder of all the great things in my life and how far we have all come. I am most excited for this resolution.

2012 can definitely be a great year, and I think my resolutions will be attainable and realistic and will hopefully bring about long-term positive changes. I know I may not have as many resolutions as the common man but these are what I want to work on and focus on. They may seem a bit lofty but again I think that they are small changes that make a big difference and these are things that I have wanted to focus on, January 1,2012 is just a good excuse to start holding myself accountable for them. Good luck to everyone out there on their resolutions – just stick to them and you will be able to achieve them! So bring it 2012, because I’m ready to make some great changes!

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Georgtown Cupcake – Worth the Wait?

Posted on September 14, 2009. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Everyday Me, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

There is a buzz around Georgetown Cupcake. My office is obsessed with them and it seems like people all over DC are also feeling the cupcake vibe. If you haven’t gone yet  – what are you waiting for?

The store is a very small shop up a side street in Georgetown. The Washington Post reported that there are plans for Georgetown Cupcake to move to the much busier M St but still remain in Georgetown. The Post also reported that Georgetown Cupcake may open up a new branch in Bethesda (which would also be a great location).  (The Post article can be found online here ) .  The staff is always superb. They have great advice on what to choose and love offering their opinions on what tastes the best. Surprisingly, even when the store is swamped with customers the staff always smiles and is very friendly. It almost makes the line worth waiting in just to get inside and have someone happy to help you. The line this past weekend was down the block, but as a loyal fan I endured the scorching sun for a sweet treat once I got inside their small little shop.

I’ve gone to Georgetown Cupcake for months now and am always excited looking at their menu to see what delicious treats they will mix up for me! My favorite cupcakes are Lava Fudge – delicious creamy chocolate lava center, it’s tough to beat! The coconut, red velvet and caramel apple are all close runners-up. I recommend checking their website before you head over there so you are prepared for your choices that day; the menu changes daily. You can find their store website at The Peanut Butter Chocolate Swirl have also gotten rave reviews from my friends, as have the Chocolate3 flavor. In my opinion no matter what you choose you really can’t go wrong. The icing is always delicious and it’s the perfect sized treat for everyone! Who doesn’t have a smile brought to their face when they eat/think of/see a cupcake?!

Want some tips and tricks for visiting? In the non-summer season visiting the store between 11:30 – 3(ish) on weekdays is usually less crowded meaning the line is inside the store only. There is sometimes an occaisional lunch-rush but it’s not usually that terrible.  It’s a quick time-saving way most days to get in and get your treats. The weekends, while convenient, tend to be more chaotic as far as the line goes. Also try to order ahead if you know you need a certain amount of a certain kind by a certain time. They offer delivery service for an additional $10 – if your office is further away that may be a worthwhile investment.

If you haven’t gone – you must, but be warned that once you have gone and tasted their cupcakes you’ll want to keep on going back for more…

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Top Chef Masters Finale

Posted on August 20, 2009. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Personal Reviews, TV Shows | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Spoiler Alert!! This will mention the winner for all of those who have Tivo’d this but haven’t watched yet!

What a season! I’d love to know how many people who initially started out hating Top Chef Masters have been converted to liking it. I was skeptical at first but I think it’s impossible to not enjoy amazing Chefs be challenged on a very different level. A few friends and I started a Top Chef Masters ‘Fantasy League’. There we picked our selections for winners of the Quick Fire and the Elimination Challenge. As the season wore on we all developed our favorites, so that when it was time for the best of the 23 to compete against each other for the final we almost knew who to pick weekly.

 The overall favorite  from the group was Rick Bayless. I was not as big of a fan of Rick, but they were. My favorites were Hubert Keller and Anita Lo. I was really disappointed when Anita went home but I felt it was time. The espisode before she left showed her having a really tough time and barely scraping by. The episode when she did leave was just not her day; nothing went her way that day of the competition and it was really time for her to leave. I felt terrible because having the ‘surprise’ of an outdoor venue for their buffet was sudden and affected her raw seafood bar more than any of the other chefs, which was a shame. The final episode was comprised of the 3 chefs who really did the best throughout the entire competition: Hubert Keller (my favorite), Rick Bayless (the world’s favorite) and Michael Chiarello (just a good chef).

I liked how during the final episode last night Bravo posted that Michael Chiarello had only 15% of the fan text message votes to win, while Hubert had 42% and Rick had 43%. Michael acted like a real jerk when he had the sous ‘Top Chefs’ to work with in the previous episode which left a sour taste in my mouth at the time but he proved in the finale that he was still a great chef with a good attitude. Michael proved to be a master storyteller that can cook really well. The judges really seemed to be thoroughly impressed with every dish he brought out and the stories. While his food looked good and seemed to taste perfect, I think the stories helped him earn extra points. I was still thoroughly pleased that he didn’t win James Oseland over, because in the end I feel like that will bother Michael more than not winning.

The dishes looked great and I loved seeing pictures of the Masters from their youth and early Chef days. It was magical to hear Hubert talk about his childhood and the laundry days. It was personally disappointing to me that Hubert didn’t win because I felt like the entire competition he was really the one to beat, and it seemed like the one big knock they had against his meal was a clove of garlic, which is silly to loose over. I was disappointed week after week in the competition by the fact that Rick always cooked his normal Spanish/Mexican cuisine. I know that he is good at that, and that is what he is truly a master of, but I felt like out of all the chefs he was the one who always always cooked the same type of cuisine. He never seemed to branch out or try new things, and I understand that it’s a competition and you always want to give it your best and do your best and you make what you know you’re good at but since he is now The Top Chef Master I would’ve hoped to see a wider range proving how masterful he is.

Rick had a great attitude through the entire thing. He seems like a genuinely nice guy who means no one harm. It was nice to see him win because he’s a nice guy with a great laugh. I enjoyed watching him cook, just wished to see more of a variety and have him wow us with something he went out on a limb to create. Michael was ok when he didn’t boss others around. I’m in awe of his Italian cooking but it did seem at times like he had a bit of problem with his ego. Hubert is just amazing. He has a great personality, he’s fun, he seems light-hearted and the man can cook, anything! He started the season with pasta in a dorm shower and ended with a 4 course meal of memories. All of them did a great job, it was a great great season!

Yes, I’m bitter that Hubert didn’t win, you can all hear it and read it. But…I find solace in the fact that Rick Bayless did NOT make guacamole in his final challenge, and I am OK with him winning since guac wasn’t involved. I hope they do another season of this and have Wolfgang Puck there – he was priceless in last night’s season premiere of Top Chef.


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Movie Debriefing: Julie and Julia

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s ironic that I should be blogging about a movie centered around blogging, luckily the movie also involves food, I’m sorry to say that my blog doesn’t come with food. This movie was quite charming and very delightful, but maybe a little bit on the long side.

The movie follows Julie Powell and her husband through life in NYC. She is a cubical worker with ‘no power’ as she puts it by day and a foodie at night. But she is actually a writer, she has successful friends but can’t find success in the things she does. While she has a seemingly strong marriage it seems like she is depressed about her life in general. To make matters worse she works in a post 9/11 call center and listens to victims of the tragic accident daily which only compounds her depressed state.

The movie moves back and forth between the drab life of Julie and the fantastic life of Julia Child. As the movie opens we see that Julia and Paul Julie & Juliachild have just moved to Paris. Paris, home of the excessively short tempered and unfriendly people, mind you also historically shorter people are in for quite a shock when American Julia Child moves in. Nothing deters Julia, that much is clear from the start. Julia sticks out because of her height from the start and her accent doesn’t help either. She is portrayed with a terrible french accent and terrible french speaking skills but the movie shows us how the French embrace her (much like the Americans did when she had her TV show). Paul always comments in the movie that Julia can make anyone smile. Watching her learn her way through Paris and enroll in Le Cordon Bleu highlights the more memorable parts of the movie. Meryl Streep does a fantastic job playing Julia.

Meanwhile, back in NYC Julie Powell has decided that she will blog and hopefully will make herself famous, or at least more of a writer that way. She is supported by her husband but talked down by her Mother. Luckily her husband’s advice prevails. Julie decides to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook and discovers not only is she a talented cook but she learns a lot about her self. She learns patience, and she learns about her marriage and her husband. She realizes how easy it is to become selfish but how much better it is to love. The most important lesson she learns is that she can achieve her goals, while this was a short-term goal it was still achieved and has proved successful for her.

In the end I wish that the entire movie, or one similar to it was about Julia Child’s life. She is such an interesting woman! Her travels and experiences in Paris, her and Paul being spies, the entire life she led was the perfect plot! I truly go back to how much I loved the pieces of the movie that revolved around Julia, while Julie’s life and challenges were fun, the parts with Julia are the ones I smile about when I look back.

Many critics seemed to dislike the character of Julie Powell. They claimed she was whiny and boring. I found her charming, not as charming as Julia Child’s role, but charming still. It was easy to see why she was mildly depressed with her life but you were happy in the end that she was successful and that her blog turned into a book which turned into a movie. In my opinion the critics were slightly off when judging Julie, maybe it was their  hype of how bad the role was that let my expectations be exceeded. Either way this movie was a gem for the summer. Light and fluffy as if it were whisked in a bowl – this is a great summer movie! Bon appetite!

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Movie Debriefing: BottleShock

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: Movies, Personal Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

While flipping through the Redbox at my local grocery store trying to find a cute flick to watch last weekend I came across this one and the cast caught my eye. I read the short plot summary and figured for $1 why not?! What a great choice! Even at $5 I would’ve been more than pleased with this selection.

The gist of the movie is telling the story of how California winemakers got put on the map by beating out French wines in a blind Paris wine-tasting in the last 70’s. It is a great story that really warms your heart at the end seeing how far a little faith and hard work can go.

Alan Rickman plays English wine connoisseur, Steven Spurrier,  who has a French wine school. He travels to the states to learn more about the wine that California has to offer and plans to showcase the best he’s tasted in a blind wine tasting to prove that French wine is far superior. Rickman has no idea that his now infamous wine tasting would turn French wine’s superiority upside down and turn the world of fine wine into a spin cycle of shock, joy and outrage.

Bill Pullman plays Jim Barrett, the main California vineyard owner, who along with his son Bo, played by Chris Pine, are struggling to keep their vineyard afloat in tough times. Through layoffs and other downturns it looks like the vineyard will have to be closed and that their dreams of bottling fine tasting wine are at a close. Bo has more faith in their product than Jim and insists that Spurrier takes a bottle of their wine back for the tasting contest even though Jim is strongly against entering their wine in the competition. Bo is sent to France to represent the California wines in the contest and comes home a champion. At the same time Jim and Bo both learn that their wine may be out of the running as it wasn’t what they thought it was when they went to take a sip, but the bottleshock wears off from the wine showing its true color(s) and the bold new taste it brings to the world of wine.  It shows a true unity that existed between the various, competing, vineyards of California. They were competitors because they all were trying to sell wine, but they were allies because if one of them succeeded they would all succeed and in the bad times they all felt the struggles together. The unity is something that people in all industries can learn from and it shows how people that come together get more accomplished than those who try to go against the grain.

This is a great story with a little bit of love, a little bit of sweat, some tears and a great ending. It helps you appreciate the hard work that ‘kids from the states’ put into their dreams and truly helps you enjoy the fine things grown right here in our own backyard. I know I personally already love home-grown wines from the US and this made me appreciate what we have even more! Bottleshock is a great title as well, because this was the main theme and in the end this story proved that this one vineyard created a longer lasting bottle shock among the french, the Californians and wine connoisseurs across the world. Highly recommended!

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