Friday, December 02, 2011

Thanksgiving recap

My sister and my niece arrived on Monday night before Thanksgiving and stayed until the Tuesday after. We had a really great visit!

My husband worked from home so we both went to pick them up at the airport. We took my niece to see Santa on Tuesday night and had dinner at CPK.

On Wednesday, I brought her into my office to show her off to my work friends and then cooked the rest of the day.

Thursday morning, my sister and my husband went to yoga (my sister's first time). I watched my niece and taped the parade for later.

For dinner we had turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry orange relish, mashed potatoes (and a undressed portion for my niece) and braised red cabbage. For dessert there was pumpkin pie and caramel nut tart. Naturally there were lots of leftovers and on Friday we went to a friend's house for our somewhat annual "Leftovers Lunch." Afterwards, we dropped my sister off at my massage therapist's to get a 90 minute massage - also her first time!

On Saturday morning, my husband and I started putting up the Christmas lights. In the afternoon, we took my niece to Picture People to have some professional pictures taken - they turned out really well. She looks so cute! That night, Max, Noelle and I dragged the Christmas tree upstairs.

Sunday we went to see ICE, with ice sculptures depicting the story from Merry Madagascar. It was really cold in there, -9, but my niece did really good - a true Canadian baby. :)

For lunch we went to Rosa Mexicano and my niece had her first green - avocado! And she liked it. My Dad was so happy. :)

That night we decorated the Christmas tree. My husband left for New York Monday morning and I went to work. My sister made dinner for us and we went for a walk afterwards to see the Christmas lights in my neighborhood. I took Tuesday off since it was our last day together. We had lunch at the Olive Garden and then I took them to the airport. Was sad but doing okay... until we got to the TSA and I saw my sister crying - which got me crying! My niece had no idea what was going on. Which is probably for the best.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Santa and Chloe

My sister and my niece are here and we've been having a GREAT time! We went to Pentagon City Mall to see Santa. Chloe did so good. Here she is giving a fist bump to Christmas:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting ready for Thanksgiving!

On Sunday, I picked up my Thanksgiving centerpiece at the West End Farmers Market. Can you tell what it is?

It's a cornucopia!

Many thanks to Pam of Fun Balloon Twisting! She creates magic with latex balloons, an air pump, a pair of scissors, a marker - and her hands!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Max's birthday and Marianna's Macarons

Since my birthday was so great this year with two fabulous dinners, a new dress, and a Broadway show in New York, I wanted to do something special for Max.

On Friday we had dinner at Legal Seafoods and then went to see Cirque du Soleil's QUIDAM. On Saturday, he had a 90 minute massage at Vital and then a get together with friends at Aguaviva. As an added surprise, I ordered a Macaron Tower from Marianna's Macarons. He loved it! There were five flavors: mojito, mint chocolate, lemon, caramel apple, and lavender. Plus a "birthday cake" flavor on top. With 15 people and 120 macarons, there were plenty to go around! We even gave some of the mojito macarons to the bartenders to try.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I first learned about from a BzzCampaign as part of being a BzzAgent.

It's a great way to create a page that connects to your Facebook page, Flickr account, Twitter page (and more!) all at once! Every page is customizable and personal. Here's mine:

One of my Facebook created one for her job search. I've been using it as part of my email signature... easiest way to tell people who I am and what I'm about (and as you probably already know, that's social media!). If you check it out, let me know what you think!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Making plans

It will be Thanksgiving in two weeks - my sister and my niece will be here sooner than that and I can't wait! Aside from the big meal, I have all kinds of things planned... a picture sitting for Chloe to have her Christmas photo taken, ICE at National Harbor, a little time at the spa for me and Noelle, putting the Christmas tree up and having lunch with some friends. Should be really fun.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Reminder: Set Your Clocks Back One Hour This Sunday!

U.S. clocks move back one hour early Sunday, November 6, 2011 as daylight-saving time ends across most of the nation.

The change to standard time occurs at 2 a.m. Sunday in each time zone.

Americans change their clocks twice a year, back one hour in the fall and forward one hour in the spring. Daylight savings time resumes on March 11, 2012.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween "in the neighborhood"

Last night we had a block party with the neighbors, potluck style. Here's what I made:

"Pumpkin" pizza with cheddar cheese

Mouths and Spiders

Mouths made from apple and slivered almonds; spiders made from Babybel cheese, pretzels and dried currants

Eyeball pizza made with mozzarella, cheddar, and mini pepperonis
Also, we hung a sheet in front of our garage and had Ghostbusters playing - fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Breakfast Farrotto with Apples

1 cup apple cider
4 cups water
2 bags of herbal apple cinnamon tea
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup farro
2 small apples, unpeeled, diced
dash ground cinnamon
maple syrup for sweetening, as desired

In a small pot, brew tea and add apple cider. Keep warm but turn the heat down to low.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the farro and saute for a few minutes at medium heat until each grain glistens. Add the wine, stir and then let the liquid cook down. Using a ladel, add one cup of the apple liquid to the farro. Even out the grains and allow the liquid to cook down completely. Repeat until the liquid is completely incorporated and the grains are soft. Add apples and cinnamon, stirring them in until everything is hot. Add maple syrup to sweetened if you like. Serves two.

Farro with 1 cup of liquid

Top: Apple liquid; Bottom: farro with liquid cooked down.
Two small apples

Farro with apples and cinnamon

Ta da!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cruise in the Caribbean on the Disney Magic

Max and I just got back from a 7 day cruise. We had such a good time!  The ship left from Port Canaveral and went to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay (Disney's private island). St. Maarten was a little grungy so I probably wouldn't choose to go back there - or would just stick to the beach by the boat if I did. Bought a pair of earrings with larimar, the Caribbean gem.

St. Thomas was much nicer! Plus the ability to use my cellphone and go to the U.S. post office really nice. We went on the Captain Nautica's Ultimate Snorkeling Expedition to Buck's Island. Got to see some turtles eating sea grass and then going up for air, sea urchins, a sea fan, fire coral, brain coral, and a conch walking around on the ocean floor.

Castaway Cay was my favorite stop. As Disney's private island, everything on it was theirs. From the ship, we walked to Serenity Beach (for adults only) and explored the shore looking for shells. Max found a conch shell and it was completely intact! For lunch there was a BBQ. In the afternoon, Max sat on the beach reading his book and I went snorkeling again.

Service on the ship was top-notch. Loved our assistant server, Michelle (from New Zealand), and our stateroom hostess, Nicol (from Slovakia). Tea (from Switzerland), the acupuncturist at the Vista Spa really impressed me with her professionalism and I felt very comfortable with her. In general, all the cast members were great... friendly, smiling and helpful. And that's why we love Disney so much.

The food on the ship was fantastic - and not too much. All the seated dinners had very reasonable portions and we never left the table feeling stuffed. Or hungry.

Beautiful bread display at Parrot Cay welcome lunch buffet

Cove Cafe treats

Blue cheese souffle with parmesan crisp

Beef Wellington


Pineapple filled muffin

Tuna Tartare

Brulee Cheesecake

Grilled pineapple and banana in coconut

Shrimp, scallops with spaghetti in a creamy tomato sauce

Mushroom risotto

Wild mushroom soup - Best Dish Award

Chocolate molten cake with vanilla ice cream

Celebration cake

Apple crumble
And there was so much to do onboard! The live musical shows were good - and two of them were really great (Dreams and Twice Charmed). We went to a great presentation about animation by the VP of Production at DisneyToon, Sean Lurie. An adults-only swimming pool and coffee house. Comedy shows with magic and juggling. We watched three movies in the Disney Theater: The Help, Cars 2, and Real Steel. Also watched Hop in our stateroom. Plus there were tons of character meet and greets.

If you're looking into going on a cruise, whether you have children or not, I highly recommend that you go on the Disney Cruise Line!