I present my new kitchen!

Under budget, ahead of schedule, and totally AMAZING!

I do have to say that my over zealous planning, researching, and spreadsheet making tendencies came in very handy.  Also a bit of flexibility helped, too.

The only real issue we encountered was the floor tile we had originally ordered was out of stock, so I ran over to the tile store and picked out a new shade-and we like it...a lot.

Oh yes, there were a few leaks in our newly installed water filter, but after a few attempts of cutting off the water supply we were leak free!

I'm so glad that I planned, planned, and planned some more, my only "surprise" was that I didn't think about new outlets in the kitchen which we totally needed to go with our new back splash.  Josh did a fantastic job installing all the new switches and outlets and now can add the titles electrician and plumber to his repertoire.


Surviving the Remodel

Well, we have survived the remodel...for the most part.  I've got to put everything back in the correct cabinets, and the appliances come on Friday.  I'll post pictures as soon as we get settled.  I'm so excited that I won't live in a construction zone anymore!  It really takes a tole on your sanity-I feel like after this weekend we will be all back to normal.

Speaking of this weekend one of my best friends is coming to visit, and I can't wait! 

I don't think we'll ride any big waves in DC like we did at Universal Studios a few years ago, but we are bound to have a good time.

I have a lot to look forward to, including a trip to the Kennedy Center tomorrow.  We are going for a corporate event with Josh's company.  I am excited to see his office and have supper in the corporate dining room.  I hear of all the amazing catered lunches he has everyday, and now I can finally get a taste of these amazing dishes.

It has been a real treat to figure out what to wear, I need to be both conservative and business.  I've decided on a black textured sheath dress with a matching jacket.  Standard black heels and pearls.  I kind of wanted to be a little more fun and summery with another suit I have with a cream jacket and black skit, but in the end I felt better safe than sorry. 

On a little jaunt over to the Hallmark store to buy a card for a friend on my lunch break, I stopped at Saks to gaze at the St. John collection.  I wish that's what I would be wearing tomorrow night.  I just don't feel like "I'm there" yet.  When are St. John suits appropriate? 

I had a friend in Tampa who wore one to a reception where we were both being honored as Tampa's Top 30 Professionals Under 30.  She looked cute as a button, so I guess if you can pull it off, you can.  She had also worn it when competing in the Miss South Carolina pageant.  I just feel like I have to be at a certain level career wise/or age wise where the suit works for me.  I just think it is the perfect "evening" suit, and I'm looking forward to adding a few to my wardrobe down the road.  If only "down the road" was tomorrow...     


Our Engagment Story

I am sharing my engagement story as part of Kelly's Korner Show Us Your Life.

Josh and I had been dating for about a year and a half, and I had been wanting to get engaged for about a year and two months-ha!  Both of our parents had dated for about 2 months before they got engaged, and were both married 6 months after that.  I only thought it was fitting that we follow in their footsteps.  Josh had a different idea.

In the summer of 2008 Josh was offered a position at his company's corporate headquarters just outside of Washington DC.  We were thrilled for this amazing opportunity, but it left me feeling scared about where our relationship was headed once he left Florida.  I wanted that commitment before he moved away.  He of course liked stringing me along and said the time just wasn't right yet.  Despite what he said, I was hoping and wishing for a ring (I had been for a while).  For about a month before he left, I constantly had a fresh manicure-just in case!  I was a girl on a mission here...

For the fourth of July, my favorite holiday, Josh and I were going on a beach trip.    He planned everything and wouldn't tell me where we were going - it was a surprise destination.  When he picked me up outside my house, I figured he would finally tell me where we were headed.  But he had pre-programmed the address in the GPS and saved it as SURPRISE!  He was a man with a plan.

We stopped at a Sonny's BBQ for dinner on our four hour car trip.  We got off the interstate in Naples and drove to tropical Marco Island.  He had made reservations for a beautiful suite at the Marriott Resort. 

The resort was a perfect blend of old-Florida with all the modern amenities. 

We woke up super early the morning of the fourth after a great breakfast, we headed out to the beach where Josh had rented us a private cabana. 

Deliveries of every magazine I could possibly want to read, fruity drinks and a great lunch from one of the hotels many restaurants made for a great day.

After getting cleaned up from a day out on the water, Josh took me to an amazing restaurant on the hotel propriety for dinner.  It was so much fun!  After dinner we headed out to the beach to watch the firework show-two of my absolute favorite things-the beach and fireworks!

As we stood out on the sand, the music from a band playing on the pool deck floated in the air.  We began to dance to their tunes.  Josh spun me around, as I was turning, he got down on one knee.  When I faced him it was moment I had been waiting for my entire life.  He asked me to marry him!  Of course I said YES!  Just ask the shock began to settle, the fireworks began. 

We watched the firework show, and called our parents from the beach to share the good news.  When we headed up to the suite, chilled champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us.

I'm so glad to have such a wonderful partner to share my life with.

Totally in LOVE.



I have to share my slightly humorous horror story from my experience at the Lancome counter yesterday.

I got a phone call last week from an associate at Lancome to let me know that they were having a make-up artist come in to do summer look makeovers, and asked if I would be interested in having an appointment.  She also let me know that they had reserved a few of their gifts with purchase (that had ended the week before) for everyone who participated in the make-over event and made a purchase.

This was a great opportunity I thought because I had meant to buy my dual finish compact during gift with purchase, and didn't get around to it.  Plus I would love to get a new summer look-double bonus.

Now, being the make-up connoisseur that I am, I knew that this was a sales event.  I expected to be hit up to make a purchase after my make-over, and I was planning to get my standard compact, a new blush and possibly some new eye-shadow.  I went in prepared.

What I wasn't prepared for was that they also brought in a skin care expert, who gave me a delightful mini-facial before my summer look make-over.  After all was said and done, I was brought to the counter and every product that they had used for my skin care and makeover were there waiting waiting for me.  I have to say great approach, very similar to what I get at the spa after a facial, etc. 

Let me tell you there was NO product left behind here.  The counter was piled high.  This staff had their sales skills turned on high and I was surrounded and trapped by four associates on each side of me.  They turned the pressure on, and for every reason I gave why I didn't need a certain product they gave me 2 why I did.  I even said I wanted to wait until I finished up using all my Estee Lauder skin care products before I made a decision and was told how much better Lancome was and to use my Estee Lauder products on my hands (really people I am not putting $70 lotion on my hands). 

So I figured the safest way to get out of there unharmed was to pick and choose some products, see what the damage was and return what I didn't want later.  When they told me oh, it's not that bad, I was expecting to sign on the dotted line for something in the $400 range.  HA - think again sister.  Let's just say I ended up dropping a grand.  NOT ok.

Josh thought it was hilarious, and went along the lines of when I got to get a $25 oil change and end-up spending $150 because I get new wiper blades, cleaning fluids and air filters, etc.  I guess I'm an easy sale.  We did agree that I would return everything except my compact that I use on a daily basis.  I may have kept a thing or two, but the more time that passed the angrier I got that I was slightly taken advantage of.  So I am taking it all back-dang it.

I do have to say, I think the products are wonderful, and my skin looks and feels amazing.  But I just don't want to pay $1,000 for my skin care products right now.  Wish me luck when I go to return everything this afternoon (at a different store of course).


Kindred Connection - Pet Edition

Windy Poplars


1. What pets currently reside at your house?

Miss Molly our cute little beagle

2. What is one really strange thing your pet(s) does?

She loves to rub her belly on the carpet.  She loves potato chips.  She can not be by herself for one single second without thinking that the world will end.  She loves car rides (used to hate them).

She is obsessed with sniffing-she loves her walks so she can get all her sniffs in.

3. Now fess up here: give us your nicknames for your pets (we KNOW you have them- and we KNOW they're good)!

We call her Molly the Beagle, Beagle (we call her beagle more than Molly I think), Beaglizer, Toots the Beagle (when she has those unlady like and slightly stinky moments), Sniffs the Beagle.

4. Are your pets spoiled or not (grin)?

Molly is 100% spoiled.  She has separation anxiety so she doesn't like to be left alone, and we don't like to leave her alone.  She goes to doggie day care everyday while we are at work, and we take her pretty much everywhere with us (except the grocery store-I don't think they smile upon doggies there). 

She eats organic dog food (no bi-products for her), and lots of good treats.  She loves her milk bones and gets one every night after she takes her medicine.

Considering we spent more on her vet bills a few months ago than we are on our kitchen remodel.  I would say she is pretty spoiled adopted beagle with A-Typical Addison's Disease.

5. Insert pet pics here :-)
My beautiful baby beagle.


Life-Long Learning

So now that the kitchen remodel is well underway and I am not designing, planning and researching, I feel the urge to take on my next project.  The problem is there are just so many things I want to learn about I can't narrow it down.  I figure writing it all down will help me be able to prioritize!

Professionally, I want to get my PHR -Professional in Human Resources- Certification and eventually PMP - Project Management Professional - Certification.  So I need to jump in and actually order the study materials, crack open the books and set a test date.  Ahh deadlines and commitment...two of my very favorite things.

Personally, I have a few areas that I would like to focus on right away.  Taking a photography class and learning how to use my DSLR camera.  I know there are many options, I just can't decide the best path to take.  There are classes offered through the Smithsonian which I think would be totally amazing.  Also classes offered through NOVA Community College.  I'm sure there are also resources on the Internet.  Has anyone taken a actual class or found good tutorials online?  Let me know!

Also, I really want to take a knife skills class.  I can cut, dice and slice - at turtle speed.  We have an amazing set of Wusthofs, and I use them daily.  But I want to be better and faster!  In addition to being better and faster, I would like to not slice and dice my fingers at least once a week.  I will look into finding a class on this in the near future.  I know some are offered at Sur la Table from time to time, any recommendations?

I loved the gift wrapping class that I went to with Lacey at the Paper Source in December.  I will totally be going again this year, but they also have some fun classes this summer.  Both a Summertime Party Invitation Workshop and a Sassy Personal Stationary Girls Night Out in July - hummm decisions decisions.  Anyone want to come with me?

Jo-Ann's recently opened a new super center in Fair Lakes.  It is huge-and much nicer than their last place in Centerville.  They offer classes, and I think I will take the Basic Sewing Class - I know how to sew-just haven't done it in a few years.  I need to make some basic items with my little machine and then consider upgrading down the road.  My plan is to one day (soon) get an embroidery machine so I can monogram everything to high heaven.  But I feel like I need to be consistent with the basics before I go overboard. 

I also need to add some books to my summer reading list.  It may be a good thing for me to get a real library card.  I was so proud of myself for joining the Falls Church Library after going to the farmers market a few weeks ago only to learn that they are not associated with any other library's so I can't download books to my e-reader from them.  PS-did you know you can "check out" downloads for your e-reader and kindle from the library for free - pretty awesome!  

For now, I think I will open up The Lost Symbol.  It's only been sitting on my night stand table for a few months.  Usually covered by Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living Magazines.  Josh has already read it and after I finish it we are going to go to all the places mentioned in the book-should be an adventure!

What's something that you want to learn more about?


Blog Hop

I'm joining Bethany of Maryland Pink and Green for her frist Friday Blog Hop.

Come join the fun!

China Patterns

Today at Kelly's Korner, it's show us your china pattern.  As a girl who drempt of selecting a pattern, and now with a house full of three different collections, I am excited to share mine.  I love everything that china is about; the beauty, the occasions to us it and of course displaying meals for me, my family and guests!

I was lucky enough to start my china collection at a young age.  My aunt AB sent me a piece of Cuthbertson Original Christmas and Dickens Embossed pattern every year for Christmas.  At the age of 30 I have an outstanding collection that I LOVE.  She got me hooked on fine china at a young age.

With my fondness of all things crystal and china, I couldn't wait until the magical day that I got to roam around the department store and choose my patterns for my wedding registry.  I dreamed of it for years.
Then the time came for us to register.  My fiancee had moved to DC, and we had to register on a weekend he was home visiting me in Florida.  On a Sunday after church, we went to Macy's to make all my magical dreams of china, steam wear and silver come true. 

An empty stomach and uncomfortable high heels probably didn't get us off to the right start.  Then handing off the scanning gun to Josh turned into a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  At first, I picked elaborate colors, patterns, florals, scrolls and swirls.  Josh did not like any of it.  We decided to move on to linens and come back to china later.  We spent hours at the store.  Finally it came to a point that everything just got so overwhelming.  I had a short time frame, pinching high heels, and had become a hungry grumpy girl.  I ended up sitting on a display bed in the linen department and Josh would pick something out, show it to me and I would either approve or disapprove.  He 100% registered us.  My husband picked out EVERYTHING!  But it turns out he was able to find things that we both love.  I like that I have a "clean slate," so I can decorate with fun table linens, centerpieces and accent plates! 

Our everyday china is Mikasa Antique White.

Our Fine China is Lennox Federal Platinum.

We were able to use every piece of our 12 piece place setting and every serving dish at Thanksgiving this year.  Not every newly wed can say that!

Have a wonderful weekend.  I will be eating off paper plates and plastic cups because every last bit of china I own is put away in a box as we re-do our kitchen.  Can't wait to get it back out for my first meal in my new kitchen!


Foodie Connection

Considering Kristin's Kindred Connection is about Food today, probably my all-time favorite topic.  I knew I needed to join in. 
Windy Poplars
I read the weekly menu email from one of my favorite restaurants this morning, and was just thinking how much I enjoy food and wishing I was in Tampa so I could stop by and get some of Bailey's Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken this week.  I am on a diet here folks, don't worry I'm not about to cheat-but it's also a good thing Bailey's is like 1,000 miles away! 

Here is the description from the weekly menu:

We are doubly excited this week, for we are serving our own Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
We marinate our chicken in full fat Marburger Farms Gourmet Buttermilk for over 24 hours. This creates a sensational flavor all on it’s own – making our chicken moist and tender throughout. We coat it in our seasoned flour and fry it to a rich mahogany brown.

But, we don’t stop there – we are serving this incredible chicken with a homemade waffle – with warm Orange Blossom Honey – or our very own homemade maple syrup.

Please, someone, come fan me, I’m about to faint.
The fainting part included!  He's a Southern Foodie through and through-LOVE IT!  Does anyone want to drive down to Florida with me?

Folks – you might as well surrender to the confederacy this week – for what better way to spend a night in June than enjoying our misting fan cooled, Grand Oak covered Outdoor Patio, while dining on Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffles, Fresh Corn and Lima Succotash, Mashed Potatoes, or Mac & Cheese, Peach Cobbler and Vanilla Ice Cream – washing it all down with a Mason Jar full of iced cold fresh squeezed Raspberry Lemonade. 

Forget driving, I'm looking up flights now!

1. What is your favorite ethnicity of food?

Southern food is my all time favorite, followed by Thai err maybe Greek-do I have to choose just one?  Living in a big city has given me the opportunity to try so many different types of foods, and I love every last bit of it.  In one week it's not abnormal for me to have tasted something from cultures all around the world.  I feel so lucky to be able to experience different dining options and create lovely dished myself.

Favorite Ethnic Dishes:
Shrimp and Grits

Louis Pappas Baby Greek Salad and Chicken Avgolemono Soup
2. If you could eat only one meal for two weeks straight, what would it be?

Well if I could just live at Georgia Brown's with their Southern Sunday Brunch rockin those two weeks I would be totally fat fatter and happy.

But if I could eat one meal for two weeks it would be a Lamb Gyro in a nice soft pita smothered in tzatziki sauce, with a beautiful Greek side salad, mashed potatoes (random I know, but I adore mashed potatoes) and topped off with a dolma (stuffed grape leaf).

3.What is the "signature" dish that you cook? (you know, that always receives rave reviews and/or you get requests for)

I used to get asked to make my Pineapple Mango Salsa all the time, it was totally turning into my signature dish.  It just requires lots of chopping.  Although I have an amazing collection of Wusthof knives, I still need to take a knife skills class to make the salsa in no time flat. 

MangoPineapple Salsa
1 can pineapple tidbits drained
1 large or 2 medium mango's diced
1/4 cup red onion diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 -1 jalapeƱo (depending on how hot you like it) cut finely
3-4 tbs lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

I also made a brilliant pulled pork this past weekend for a BBQ that received rav-reviews.
Marinate a Pork Shoulder in Stubs Pork Marinade for as long as possible (hopefully overnight).  Cook pork  for 8-10 hours at 250 covered in uin foil.  Take pork out of pan and pull with two forks.  Cover in your favorite BBQ sauce - mine - Sonny's Sweet Sauce, which I buy in bulk because there is sadly no Sonny's in Virginia.

Of course the Jalapeno Poppers and Salsa created by the Pioneer Woman - definitely a crowd pleaser.

4. Is there something that you just can't handle eating - like gag reflex?

Red Bell Peppers - GROSS ME OUT.  Also not a fan of banana peppers or liver.

5. Do you think that the Kindred Connection should continue through the summer, or take the summer off? 
 I love the Kindred Connection-so if your up for it, I would love to continue it through the summer.


Summer Tomatoes

Does dinner get much better than this?

I don't think so!

I've really upped my fruits and veggie intake, and am enjoying every bit it.

A Walk Around Town

I have been loving the Virginia weather the past few days.  It was HOT HOT HOT this weekend, but at some point a thunderstorm rolled through and brought with it a cool breeze.  I've been going for longer walks with Molly before work in the mornings.  I love seeing all the beautiful foliage in our neighborhood.  I like to give awards (in my mind) of who has the best looking yards and prettiest flowers. 

The Hydrangeas are my favorite, they are just huge and thriving.

I'm also pretty impressed with the beautiful climbing roses that some of my neighbors have.

So glad that there is a nice walkway around the lake in our neighborhood (Molly likes it, too).  Josh's office overlooks the lake, which is pretty neat.

It's so nice to be outside with the sun shining through the trees.

But even better that I spotted one of these on my back porch last night!



Kitchen Update

We are right on track on the kitchen remodel.  Well, I was planning to pack up all the cabinets this weekend, but underestimated how many boxes I would need.  The kitchen is painted, the appliances are ordered, heck we even picked up the microwave yesterday!  I am really enjoying managing this project.  Except for finding the "right" shade of white for the cabinets and trim that matches the wall paint, back splash and granite-ahhh!  There are enough shades of white to drive a girl crazy!
The walls are painted!

We will be attacking the cabinets next weekend, and then I have the contractors scheduled to bring in the granite and install the flooring and back splash.  Hope they don't run over their time-frame because I have the appliances scheduled to be delivered just a few days after they said they would be finished.  Fingers crossed!  The only things left to figure out are odds and ends, but I do have to say I didn't realized how expensive light fixtures and cabinet hardware would be.  Of course I have excellent taste and everything I like is out-of-control expensive.  I should be used to this by now.  = )

Josh had a great time with his friend in town this weekend.  They were able to get in a good amount of golf in and go to some of our favorite restaurants.  Josh was warming up for the Diplomatic Security Foundation Tournament he is playing in today.  Condoleezza Rice is the Honorary Chairperson-how exciting is that?  I hope he gets to meet her. 


Showing Kindness

Today at Kelly's Korner we are sharing Random Act of Kindness Idea's.

I love doing Random Acts of Kindness.  I even started RAK Day when I was in high school-that's how much I love it.  One of the most fun summers in my life, my friend Allison and I were the Panhellenic representatives for freshman orientation at the University of Florida.  We did sessions everyday about Greek Life and Recruitment (I still want to call it rush).  It was tons of fun needless to say. 

We were together non-stop and just totally lifted each other up!  So we thought what better than to lift others up as well.  So we would do a Random Act of Kindness everyday.  Most of the time we would spot parking meters that had run out and pop a quarter or two in.  Open doors, and would go out of our way to show kindness and grace to others.  I think it feels better to be good to others than it even feels to be the recipient of the goodness.

On that note, I need to remember to be kind to my husband, and hope he returns the favor.  He is taking graduate accounting classes right now so he can sit for his CPA next year.  Due to his work, travel and study schedule, we have agreed that I will take on the majority of the household responsibilities. 

I am happy to do this.

Right now it's a little overwhelming since I have added the kitchen remodel on top of running the house and my full-time job.  I love my job, taking care of the house and am thrilled about the remodel.  I feel like I am doing pretty good with all my responsibilities, but he likes to give me reminders of what I'm not doing well or haven't finished yet.  Best of all these friendly reminders aka Random Acts of Meanness (yes I came up with that all on my own) come around 11:30 pm.  After I am already in bed and he has finished studying for the night.  Yes, I know that I need to change the sheets and put away my shoes in the bottom of the closet in the guest room before our company comes this weekend.  Yes, I know I had all week to do this, you don't need to tell me this at midnight while I'm trying to sleep.

Maybe I need to find him a new pair of glasses so he can see all the things I do around the house everyday that he doesn't notice, and filter out the things I haven't wrapped up yet.    I will be happy to trade out a RAM for RAK!

In the mean time, I hope he enjoys his three rounds of golf this weekend.  I'll be painting the kitchen and finishing packing up all the cabinets to prep for the contractor to come in, but that's just between you and me because no one else in my house will notice-ha!

FYI-this is all in good nature, I'm just learning how to deal with meeting both my own and my husbands expectations while balancing my career and household.  It's what the first few years of marriage is all about right?


New Arm Candy

I am putting my TAG Heuer on sabbatical for a while.

I'm on the search for a new watch.  It's not that I need a new watch, I need alarms to go off throughout the day so I will remember to eat lunch and snacks to keep my metabolism going.  Gone are the days of meeting friends everyday and going to luncheons throughout the week.  I miss those Outlook reminders.   Working solo, I get so into my tasks that I don't remember to eat lunch until about 3:30 in the afternoon, which makes for a hungry girl who doesn't make the best decisions.  Plus I am starting a new regimen that calls for me to eat something small every few hours, so I need a little help remembering to break away from my desk. 

So it summer, so I've decided a cute white watch is in order.  Of course I would like to have either this Toy or Michael Kors number wrapped around my wrist.

BUT - neither has alarms, darn!

So last night I bought this bad boy.

I'm not sold 100% on the Timex, so I am going to Macy's this afternoon to check out this little guy.

I've also set up my igoogle to have an alarm clock too, hopefully multiple alarms will help (maybe I need to use this strategy for getting out of bed in the morning, too).