Living the Good Life...

Reflecting on the g-chat I just sent to one of my besties while trying to figure out her schedule when she is in DC this weekend for a conference:

"I have some spa-ing, volunteering, and brunching I am trying to work in my schedule while you are conferencing."

La-ti-dah, I wish every weekend was like the one coming up.  The funniest part is I am most looking forward to the TSM's (total sorority move's) Keiper and I are going to pull out on the town than my other three activities.  I take that back, spending time behind two red doors at the Willard will be pretty darn fantastic.

Actually I can't really complain about this past weekend either, it was awesome.  Let's talk about how beyond amazing is is to lounge in our new king size bed - "stay on your side," a new phrase shared by Josh and myself while basking in our own pillow-topped spots.  Breakfast at our favorite local-organic diner, I've decied true happiness lies somewhere between their fuffy buttermilk pancakes and gigantic mugs of coffee.  Then celebrating the birthday of my very favorite two-year-old.

I'm sure Jen never imagined 12 or so year ago that the girl who lived next to her in the dorm would be coating chocolate-dipped pretzel rods in sprinkles and customizing her son's choo-choo train t-shirt before his second birthday party, but folks that's the woman I've become.  And I'm loving every customitzed choo-choo train second of it.

Case in point:
And if we're being honest here, I never really thought that the girl that I shared my first natty light with in the corner of the backyard of Beta Theta Pi would spend four hours taking her cake baking skills to the next level to create this masterpiece:

But she did, and I did. 
Lesson learned - she doesn't mess when it comes to birthday parties, and I don't mess when it comes to helping with last minute prep, loading the dishwasher, or cheese-well actually neughter of us mess when it comes to cheese.

Favorite moments of Jack's Choo-Choo train bononza.  Blowing out the candle and when he decided to go frank the tank on us and went streaking.

Hey-it's his party, he can take off his pants if he wants to.

Menu Monday is in sad shape this week.  We are making a big batch of chili and seeing how long we can live off it this week.  I'll let you know how it goes, and who breaks from the chili and salad diet first. 



Great things are going on all around me.  I've gone to/am going to three four awesome places for restaurant week!  For those who don't know  R week is when all the top dining establishments in DC offer lunch and dinner at a pre-set price.  Some offer a pre-fix menu while others let you order an appy, entree and dessert off their regular menu all for the low low price of $35.11.  My goal is to find the latter - holla Chef Geoff's.  Anyway-Great Food, Great Friends-who could want more?

Well except for my gamma delta ladies at AU...

More, more, more - that's exactly what the Phi Mu Chapter at American University got on Bid Night!  They had a fantastic recruitment and ended up with quota plus additions - resulting in the largest new member class on campus!  The best part is they did it by being completely true to themselves, and were able to showcase their amazing friendships and sisterhood during recruitment (all the while ignoring my request to put on more lip gloss).  Gosh-I love them with or without a shiny pout.

Speaking of love, I am planning to fall in love with the hubs over and over again on the mini-moons we are taking this year!  Josh just booked us for a week in Greece-first class thank you very much, and a little over a week in Seattle to enjoy some time on the west coast prior to my fav red-headed-roommate's wedding this summer.  I was going through recruitment withdrawals, but now I get to start planning our fab vacations-can't wait!


ohhhh snap

The Sorority Girl Snap: a sign of excitement, job well done and/or agreement.

It's found it's way back in my life after the last few days of recruitment with the Phi Mu ladies at American University.  Not that I've spent many waking hours away from girls who understand the meaning of the snap and like to do it all the live long day.  I'm just hoping not to start using it at work or other social situations when I head back to reality tomorrow.

The whole experience of being an adviser to these young women has been so incredibly rewarding.  Seeing their growth as leaders, helping them reach their goals, and most importantly having a TON of FUN along the way is totally awesome.  I'm so excited to see the results of all the long hours, sleepless nights and endless emails tomorrow when they meet their new member class on bid day!

For as much as I hope I've made a positive impact on them, I know without a doubt what an impact they have had on me.  It has been a true pleasure and honor working with and getting to know this chapter. 

To add to my "you know you're a sorority adviser when" list:

  • Your car has a helium tank, suitcases, 500 flowers and vacuum cleaner in it.  
  • You faceplant on the sidewalk on a main street in DC while going to every grocery store and florist in a 5 mile radius trying to find your sorority flower because there are way more women coming to your next party than planned for or imagined - deemed Operation Carnation 2011.  
  • You think breaking out into song and dance is and should be a part of every day life.
  • You are put on caffeine probation by a young woman 12 years your junior because she fears for not only your sanity, but also your life.


What I Miss...

My dear sorority sister Suzanne shared this link this morning on her blog.  Strangely, this short video was able to illustrate to me all that it is that I miss about living in Florida. 

It's being connected...
knowing a familiar face, and the story behind it.

You see, this clip was about a big tradition in Tampa's Greek Orthodox community in the town of Tarpon Springs (near where my in laws live).  Link #1. 

On Epiphany each year, January 6th-my birthday, there is a huge celebration. Link #2.

The young Greek Orthodox men in the area dive into the spring to retrieve a cross thrown in by the Greek Orthodox archbishop.  In the Greek Orthodox church, Epiphany celebrates Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan.  Combine that with Tarpon Springs sponge diving and boating heritage and you have a tradition born more than 100 years ago that continues today. 

I've been lucky enough to witness this even first hand at a former co-worker and junior leaguers parents home that surrounds the spring.  Link #3. 

This year the young man who retrieved the cross is a student at the high school where my friend teaches.  Link #4. 

His name Louis Pappas - also the name sake of his families restaurant - one of my favorite dining establishments.  Link #5. 

The sports caster interviewing him seriously dated two of my very good friends.  Link #6. 

This could never happen in DC-unless the newscasters wanted to do a special interest story on baking Christmas cookies featuring me, my neighbors and friends.  Everything here is on a national/international scale.  A friend who had lived here had told me this before I moved to the nations capitol, but it's just now starting to click - why it is that I feel so disconnected.  From a big fish in a small pond to a minnow in the ocean...

I'm carving my niche here, but miss the community and network I used to have.

Speaking of niche, tonight begins recruitment for the lovely ladies I advise.  I'm looking forward to spending a fun-filled, sleepless weekend with them and can't wait to see the results of all their hard work with their new member class on Tuesday night.  Until then...


With Sugar On Top

There's a fresh white coating over the landscape tonight.  It's my favorite kind of snow-the really wet kind that sticks to everything, like God sprinkled us with a good measure of powdered sugar.

Of course this somehow made our power go out.  As the lights flickered, I counted 3-2-1 before the house grew dim, slightly disappointed that I wouldn't be eating the pan of "about to be roasted"  brussels sprouts that I was fixing to put in the oven for dinner. We lit candles, kindled a fire found flashlights and the books from our night stand tables.  It was great to spend the evening unplugged from the outside world, nestled in our home together.

Unplugged was a good thing for me.  I've been enjoying the past few days of recruitment preparation with the sorority chapter I advise.  It's been such a wonderful experience to see the leadership development in the young ladies, and their final push of hard work, rallying from exhaustion and staying focused in order to achieve their goals.  I actually found myself singing and bopping along to one of the songs they sing in a skit last night in the kitchen, I should start making a list of "you know you're a recruitment adviser when."

I didn't realize what a toll putting in long hours at these practices would take on me.  I'm so glad I was able to decompress with a massage after work and a celebratory belated birthday lunch at the Nordstrom's Cafe.  There, Lacey and I can be working ladies who lunch, and get a giggle from the older women who wear full length mink coats over their coordinating track suits.

It's the little things in life...

I should of had Josh guest post Menu Monday this week, as he did the menu planning and will do most of the cooking this week.
Monday we had chicken fajitas
Tuesday was going to be grilled chicken, roasted brussels sprouts and baked sweet potato fries, but turned into a turkey wrap for both of us.
I will be stopping by subway or something of the sorts Wednesday night
Thursday our favorite dish-chicken enchiladas.
Friday leftovers - I want those brussels sprouts!

On the note of my favorite subject, food, I have to share with you a note from my favorite foodie and restaurateur, Kim Bailey's weekly email.

"We are so excited.  It's Strawberry season!!!  That means that we will have a dessert with fresh Plant City strawberries on the menu every week until mid-April or so.
This week we are serving our first strawberry dessert highlighting fresh Strawberry Shortcake.  We make our shortcake unlike others.  First and foremost, the strawberries must be fresh and ripe, which they are.  I picked them out myself this morning.  We make our own biscuit-like (light and tender) shortcakes made with rich cream and butter.  We butter the tops of these shortcakes and sprinkle them with cane sugar for a perfect crunch to the top.
Bailey's Strawberry Shortcakes are extra good because we put a scoop of our homemade Strawberry Ice Cream right in the middle of the split shortcake then load it with whipped cream and fresh berries and natural strawberry juice.  Oh my gosh - it's like being lulled to sleep curled up in your favorite comforter in front of the fireplace."

Ironically I spent my evening being lulled to sleep curled up in my favorite comforter in from of the fireplace, but for some reason this strawberry short cake sounds even better...



Well, I wanted to post this yesterday, but blogger wasn't agreeing with me, so today it is.  It may be more fitting that I am posting my resolutions on my birthday.  Wow, where did 31 come from?  I like that my birthday falls at the beginning of a new year-I can reflect and make goals as I celebrate and start the next year of my life.  However I do not like that my husband likes to point out that I am now older than him (for the next three months), and my next big milestone will be 40-gag.

This year my resolutions are focused on relationships, building them, bettering them and making them the gosh darn best they can be.  

First I want to focus on the relationship I have with myself.  Priority #1 my health and achieving a manageable and healthy weight.  My action plan is to make menu’s in advance and prepare foods I like to have with me all the time.  Checking in with myself throughout the day, keeping my hunger (and excitement about food) level low, ideally not letting myself get overly hungry then eating waaaay too much.  I want the foods that I eat to be well balanced, nutritious and yummy.  I plan to participate in physical activities that are rewarding and that I enjoy.  I’ve started yoga, and plan to actually use my gym.  I’m looking forward to dusting off our bicycles and going on lots of hikes in the surrounding parks once it warms up this spring.  Oh yes, and flossing-my dentist will be thrilled I said that, he gets excited about things like that-that's why I love him and all his oral hygiene trivia questions.

In addition, I want to find and participate in rewarding activities that bring joy to my life.  Being a good friend, committed to fostering the amazing friendships I have, and growing some new ones along the way.  I plan to continue my involvement with the Junior League of Washington DC, Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington DC Phi Mu Alumnae Chapter, and advising the Gamma Delta Chapter of Phi Mu at American University.  I want to give fully and my very best to these organizations.

This year, I would like to read lots and lots of books, magazines and blogs.  I’m going to start the year off focusing on Americana, our history and heritage-and see where my interests lead me.

Next, is the relationship with my dear husband.  I want to go out of my way to learn more about him, make him feel honored, special and loved.  I plan to do this by sticking to our extremely detailed budget, keeping a beautiful home, and planning special treats for him.  He is my partner and very best friend and throughout this year (and our lifetime) I want to nurture our relationship and continue to grow in our marriage.  By communicating clearly my intentions and expectations, I hope we can grow even closer and set amazing plans and goals for our future together.

Last, but certainly not least, my relationship with the Lord.  Although my faith and beliefs have never wavered, I want to challenge myself to grow spiritually this year.  I plan to do this by praying more often, doing devotions and becoming more active with church.  I know every effort and amount of energy I put into my spiritual growth will help me achieve everything else I have set forth to accomplish, and even more importantly tune in and focus on what God wants me to accomplish.

Wishing you all the very best for a hopeful and prosperous 2011!

And one more trivial thing: I am making it a resolution that I will find a way to use our hundreds of thousands of airline miles to book a flight to Greece-Business Class or Bust!  I will be eating feta cheese on some picturesque Greek Island this spring.  United.com you will not defeat me!


Menu Monday

Ready for 2011 - we're kicking this week off with a bang.  I am making my FAVORITE soup to help sooth our sore throats and feed my obsession with Greek Food. 

Monday:  Greek Avgolemono Chicken Soup to keep in the Mediterranean tradition, we'll probably munch on some homemade hummus and fresh veggies while the soup cooks.

Tuesday:  Garlic Pork Chops, Roasted Eggplant and Egg Noddles

Wednesday:  Soy Glazed Salmon, Couscous and Asparagus

Thursday:  In honor of my thirty first year of life, I will be keeping the apron and oven mitts off.  Dinner-to be provided by one of DC's fine establishments.  And finished with something delightful.

Friday:  Oven fried Chicken, Sweet Potatoes and Lemony Broccoli