Nice Weekend for Weddings

Can you believe GG and I have been married for nine years?! Usually we try to plan a nice dinner out or even a brief trip for our anniversary, but this year GG had already made plans to play in a band with our friend A at a Relay for Life event. So we had time for a quick (but nice) dinner at home before he had to drive to the event, about an hour away.

We decided to make reservations at Seasons 52, since it was nice and close by. I guess because GG said in the reservation that it was our anniversary, they brought us a little card, and a couple free glasses of champagne. Our appetizer was amazing and something I need to re-create: blistered Shishido peppers with roasted corn, Sonoma goat-feta cheese, lemon aioli, and sumac. Apparently it’s a new menu item, and three different managers came by to see how we liked it. (We loved it! I’d just picked it on a whim!) Then I had the salad I usually get, GG had a pork tenderloin, and we each enjoyed a couple of the mini desserts :o)

Then on Sunday, we went to this wedding we were sort of accidentally invited to. So, funny story: I posted on Facebook about some cat food I couldn’t use, and a friend of mine from high school (she was a freshman when I was a senior) said she could take it, so we met up to drop it off. We talked for a while, and then she goes, “You guys are local, right?” and hands me an invitation to her wedding! My friend is Chinese, and apparently her parents were in charge of invites, and she was worried there would be “too many Chinese people” there! So GG and I ended up going, even though I was sure I would know nobody there.

It was a gorgeous day for the little outdoor garden wedding, and they did a really nice job of incorporating Chinese and western traditions (her husband is not Chinese). When we sat down for the reception, I found that we were at a table of people from my high school, but because they were all three years behind me, I didn’t really know any of them. The girl sitting next to me was actually even younger than the bride, and we started talking about how we both knew her. I shared that I was her “band mom” in marching band, and this girl goes, “Oh, she was my band mom!” So that made her my band granddaughter!

Also, I wore a very cool maxi dress, so I didn’t even need to shave my legs ;o)

May

Looking back on it, I had a pretty nice, calm May, compared to the crazy June I’m about to face! Some highlights:

  • We had our spring band concert. Nothing I was super excited to play, but it wasn’t terrible. I also wasn’t thrilled about the posters and programs I’d designed, but everyone seemed to like them, so that’s always good.
  • I took my mom and grandmom out for a really nice Mother’s Day lunch, and then afterward my brother came over and hung out and it was a very nice time.
  • We saw John Mulaney at the Merriam Theater! He’s really hit the big time :o)
  • After resuming regular orthodontist appointments a couple years ago when I had my retainers modified to be TMJ night guards, I have now officially “graduated” from orthodontia (again)! Instead of telling me to come back in a year, they said, “Call if you need us.”
  • I continued my David’s Tea obsession.
  • I also discovered this crazy vegan place in our area, Gangster Vegan. After meeting the owner at our farmers’ market and trying some of their juice, GG and I went there to pick up dinner one night, and he’s been talking about it ever since! Everything is vegan and organic, and also a lot is raw. (Did you know that vegan pie “crust” is a delicious date paste?!)
  • Had a relaxing and productive Memorial Day weekend while GG was away working. Having been an “ice cream widow” over summer holiday weekends for years now, I’ve learned how to make my own plans and keep myself occupied.
  • The TLC Block Party!
  • Hosted a ladies’ brunch/Ruby Ribbon trunk show that turned out pretty well. I might do brunches for all my parties from now on – the food is fun and easy, and you still have the whole day after it’s over! My friend L stayed after the party and we hit up the KoP Mall.

The HapTEAest Place on Earth

There is a new loose leaf tea shop in town, and GG and I are huge fans! DAVIDsTEA is a Canada-based tea shop that sells loose teas, drinks, and paraphernalia like mugs and steepers and spoons. They also sell really cute gift sets and sampler packs, and have recently launched a line of tea-based skincare products (lotions and lip balms). We have been longtime customers of that other tea shop (GG even worked there for a week once!), and the vibe is just so much nicer here! Brighter and more colorful and generally more happy.

I also have to compliment the staff. Every time we’re in this store, it’s like a party, and we leave with huge smiles on our faces! They are super friendly, happy, knowledgeable, and helpful. You can tell they really love what they’re selling, and want to help you pick just the right thing.

On Friday, GG and I came by after dinner to get some tea drinks. The woman making them was positively giddy about my choice and kept saying how excited she was to make this drink – an iced latte made with Forever Nuts tea, which brewed up to be a really pretty pink color.

Their teas have really unique flavors/ingredients and cute names (there is one called Movie Night that includes popcorn!), and the other products are nicely designed. I’ve given a couple mugs as gifts, and this last time I picked up an iced tea pitcher, which I wanted to get anyway, plus it enrolled me in their Summer Steeper program for the next couple months (check it out – can be done online, too!). So expect lots more “selfteas” coming up :o)

PS: This post was totally unsponsored, I just really like this store!

April

  • GG got some bad news at the end of March and April started a new and hopefully ultimately positive and exciting chapter of our lives/year.
  • We did Easter Brunch with my family at our current favorite local brunch spot (those Eggs Benedict, mmm!), followed by Easter Dinner with GG’s family, which, like most holidays, was a lot of food for one day!
  • Celebrated National Cheese Fondue Day at The Melting Pot; I signed up for their “fondue club” or whatever, and learned of a special member deal they were doing. I do love me some cheese…
  • Spent a very hipster night out in Philly to celebrate GG’s friend’s birthday – we went to Barcade, Johnny Brenda’s, and Frankford Hall. Because it was the first gorgeous weekend day of the year, these places were all packed. If nothing else, Frankford Hall totally sold me on building my own fire pit at home ASAP.
  • GG took his annual plane trip to visit friends out of state, and I stayed home and enjoyed having the place to myself for a week ;o)
  • We saw TMBG in Philly!! I know, the last time we saw them at the TLA we decided we were too old (or their new child fans were too inconsiderate and unaware), but we decided to give it another try. We actually had a decent time. It was “An Evening With TMBG,” so there was no opening act, just two long TMBG sets. They played a lot of their new Dial-A-Song tunes, but it turns out that “Glean” is a great album, and they meshed well with their other classic songs. Stage banter was fabulous – I was so glad there were no sock puppets! But I loved the phone calls from Mama and Papa TMBG (including callbacks to earlier jokes, like a warehouse full of all the rats’ asses they don’t give about flash photography). We met up with a guy GG knows while we were waiting in line, so we had someone else to chat with. There were a few annoying kids (like, teenagers, and actual kids who were there with their parents even though this was explicitly not a kids’ show), but all-in-all, it was a good night. This was my 13th TMBG show!
  • Went to a breast cancer fundraiser/fashion show with my breast cancer survivor friend J :o) It was a really nice venue, nice set-up and decor, little bar when you came in, the fashion show was fun, good raffle prizes, etc. but, we were told there would be brunch. They finally served everyone a small wedge of quiche and a handful of lettuce leaves, and… that was it. They collected our plates and there was nothing more. Everyone at our table was like, “Was that it?” (They did eventually release us for cookies and coffee/tea :o/)
  • I read Growing Up Duggar and tweeted my thoughts as I went through it. If you are a fan (or anti-fan) of the Duggars and don’t follow me on Twitter, you’re really missing out. I have a bunch of followers who basically like me just for my Tuesday night live commentary of the show.

March

This has been a really tough month, understandably, but it’s had ups and downs. Some of the ups:

  • Had a nice off-season trip to OCMD with GG and his family to attend a hotel and restaurant convention (aka: excuse to eat and drink all the samples). We found a nice new (to me) restaurant down there, Hooked. And it was nice to just get away for a few days.
  • Went to a middle school play… The play itself was cute, but the real highlight for me was my band friend C yelling at the rude middle school boys next to us during the intermission, then ending with a threat, “You don’t know who I am, but I know who you are, and I’ll see you when you get to high school!”
  • Had another great event for my second side business! I’d been working with this hostess for months, and she just did not have any confidence in herself – so it made me so happy to see what a great turnout and event she had, and how that made her feel better about herself, too!
  • And of course … the new guy. I’ll have to write more about him later.

My Version of the Chili’s Fresh Mex Bowl


I few weeks ago, I had dinner at Chili’s, which I hadn’t been to in a couple years. There were a few new items on their menu in the “Fresh Mex” category, including two versions of a Fresh Mex bowl. The one I had was really good, just the right amount of food, and still felt light and healthy. So the next week, I decided to make my own version at home.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you could totally customize it. Leave something off, add something in. When I ate at the restaurant, my bowl had some sliced chicken on it, so marinate a chicken breast and add it to the recipe below. If you’d like something a little spicier, you can adjust the seasonings, or add some jalapeno or maybe chipotle in adobo. But here is the recipe for two of the bowls pictured above:

Ingredients: (these are all kind of estimates because I “cook from the heart”)

  • 2 cups brown rice (dry)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 15 oz. can of black beans
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt & pepper

Rice: Prepare rice in a pot with boiling water, according to its directions. When almost finished, add about 3 tsp vegetable oil, salt, 1/4 cup cilantro, juice of half a lime, and combine. Keep warm until ready to assemble.

Beans: Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a pot, add rinsed and drained beans. Sprinkle with chili powder and cumin to taste. Cook until warmed through and keep warm until ready to assemble.

Corn: Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a pan, add thawed corn. When almost fully cooked, add about 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1/8 cup cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. (This would be a good place to add some chopped jalepenos, too.) Keep warm until ready to assemble.

Sour Cream: To 1/2 cup sour cream, add 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 cup cilantro. Combine and keep cool until ready to assemble.

Assemble the bowl: starting with a base of rice, add beans, corn, half a sliced avocado, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

February

Between snow and sickness, I was home a couple extra days each week this month. I actually never made it to the office for a full week (or my usual 3 days) all month! Some highlights:

  • More of a low-light, but I got food poisoning from wonton soup and/or egg rolls from our favorite Chinese restaurant, the night of the Super Bowl. I felt bad immediately after eating, and was up all night throwing up and whatnot. Then it continued for the next couple days. On the plus side, I lost 5 pounds!
  • Just when I got over this illness, I got a mega cold. Then GG got sick (and he is never sick)!
  • I finally got my shelves hung in my office! And then found the perfect desk (which is actually two kitchen tables from Ikea, but trust me, they look and work great). Now I just need to finish getting things organized, I really need a free weekend to work on this…
  • We went to see Birdman, just in time for the Oscars…
  • Went to what was actually a student music recital at Drexel, but GG knew the director/teacher of the group. Also discovered Zavino, which had great food, good prices, and the most generous cheese and charcuterie board we have ever had (seriously, we couldn’t finish all that meat).
  • Had a really neat opportunity to meet and have dinner with the founder of Ruby Ribbon, thanks to my Director from my side biz!
  • We celebrated Valentine’s Day a day early by going out to dinner Friday night at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The food was good, but for those prices, I’d like to be spoiled a little more (e.g. Capital Grille). The whole meal and situation was kind of weird – for instance, they apparently cleared out the regular tables from one room and replaced them with rinky-dink folding tables for all the couples out celebrating, which looked really junky.
  • On Valentine’s Day, we went to see Thank You Scientist. I’d never even heard their music until the week before, but they are amazing. Really incredibly skillful musicians, and they put on a great show! Such a shame they were the opening act, but on the other hand, we left right after their set and got home nice and early! (Also, District N9ne is a great venue, I’d go to another show there, although it’s kind of in a weird location.)
  • Went to the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention (not my usual scene, but I knew someone working there) – no, I still do not like anything enough that I need it tattooed on my body forever.
  • I tried Colour Pop, and I am hooked! The eyeshadow is amazing – goes on creamy, blends nicely, and lasts really well all day without creasing. I can’t say the same for the lipsticks, which are a mess, but I have a couple of those, too.
  • I continued working my second side business and had an amazing month!

January

Highlights of the month:

  • Rang in the new year on the couch with GG, my BIL, and his girlfriend.
  • Have been very angry at the new coffee makers they put in our kitchens at work (supposedly an “improvement,” but coffee mugs don’t fit in them, and if you’re a tea drinker like me, just getting hot water is a pain).
  • Maybe that doesn’t matter since I never made it to work for a full day all month – thanks, endless snowstorms!
  • I finally used the cart escalator at our new Target! (I am probably there an average of once a week, but maybe that’s the problem: I never got enough in one trip that I needed to use a cart.)
  • Made our annual trip to the Pennsylvania Farm Show with L and S. We’re old pros at this now, and know the areas to focus on, e.g. the food hall (for that early morning milkshake before the lines get too long), wine tasting booths, and the aisles of food vendors. We also learned a lot of about nuts and tree grafting, and bought a ton of stuff. (Blind Spot Nut Butters are fabulous, try the Sea Salt Caramel!)
  • Had a terrible experience with Ideel.com and cannot dis-recommend them enough! Why would you let me buy something you don’t actually have? And then not tell me when the order couldn’t go through? And then let me buy it again? And then tell me it was shipping soon when you were never even going to have the item? Oh well, it probably wouldn’t have fit me, anyway. But I will never be shopping there again.
  • After a long time on my wish list, I finally bought a spiralizer. Love it! I’ve been spiralizing everything.
  • Went to the Philadelphia Home Show and saw Josh and Brent, the Beekman Boys! GG even ended up really liking the talk they gave on what they’ve learned about life from raising their goats. (Also, in person, they are exactly like they were on their show.)
  • After three years, Ivan finally figured out how to get into the basket under my office window! Now Sacha has some competition for his favorite sleeping spot.
  • Celebrated the official launch of my second side business I’ve been working since August!
  • My Christmas gift from GG was a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants. What I didn’t know was that he made plans for a limo to drive us there and home! (And while I kind of wish I had known in advance that our plans were set in stone, it was super sweet of him and really fun!)

December

  • I helped organize an Ugly Sweater / Second Annual Cookie Bake-Off party at work – it was a success! My rosemary butter cookies came in a respectable second place (that new Kitchenaid mixer helped!); one relatively new colleague went all out with super cute cookies and the only ugly sweater of the day; and I played Fay’s 12 Days of Christmas on a loop for background ambiance.
  • I got a cute haircut that has gotten me more compliments than any other haircut I’ve gotten as an adult. And you know I usually do one big chop once a year and then let it grow, so it’s not like people haven’t seen me with shorter hair before, but I’m really getting a lot of feedback about this one.
  • Did a couple more vendor events for my second side biz. I’m glad I was able to get the name out there, but boy do I hate doing these shows! So glad “vendor season” is over for me!
  • Did my minimal Christmas decorating, which actually seems to grow slightly each year. I am now up to: small tree (with ornaments), a couple doo-dads sitting in the living room, ornaments in dining room centerpiece, holiday towels and soap in powder room.
  • We hosted our second annual holiday party for our friends. Remember last year when I surprised GG by hiring a clown? This year I got The Grinch!! It was also our second annual Battle of the Dips; winners included pumpkin dip, hoagie dip, and salmon dip. The winners received weird sex shop novelties as their prizes! Next year’s party is going to have a lot to live up to…
  • We saw John Mulaney at the Troc (with opening act Seaton Smith)! As usual, I was pretty much in tears by the end of his set. Fabulous. Also, we found a new place near the theater for dinner, GG is kind of obsessed with it now…
  • Took a day off with MB and A to do all the most Christmassy stuff in Philadelphia: Comcast show, Macy’s show, Love Park Christmas village, lunch at DiBruno Brothers, a train ride there and back, and of course a gift exchange :o)
  • Went to a live nativity/Christmas Eve service at a friend’s church. I think she was super excited to recruit us for the church, but really I just wanted to see the animals on stage (and also they had a good band, which GG liked). It was nice, but we’re not going to be regular churchgoers anytime soon.
  • Celebrated Christmas first with my family, then with GG’s. For Christmas lunch at our place, we had a great spread, including a great pomegranite and lime sangria, perfect red and green for Christmas!
  • Took another trip into Philly during our week off to have lunch at Rosa Blanca and check out the Constitution Center (kind of on a whim).
  • My holiday break home improvement project this year: painted a bedroom a gorgeous turquoise/teal color. It’s really dramatic and I love it!

November

  • Went to a Halloween party with GG and some friends – we dressed as a cat and a ball of yarn! One of my other favorite couple costumes there was Miss Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!
  • Celebrated my BIL’s b-day with a decadent dinner at the Capital Grille.
  • Took Ivan back to the vet because he pulled his stitches open and kept licking his incision :o( So he got antibiotics, and ointment, and a cone! (But he hates the cone.)
  • My work BFF J had her breast cancer surgery and she is already doing amazing! She asked everyone to wear pink for her, so I organized a bunch of people at work to wear pink and take a group photo to send her.
  • Had a fun girls night out (first one in like 2 years)!
  • We had a house guest for a week, which was actually really nice.
  • Did some Socials and events for my second side biz! It’s definitely keeping me busy… Making lots of great connections, though!
  • Had a crazy Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.
  • We saw Foxcatcher. It was mega creepy. Channing Tatum and especially Mark Ruffalo were great and really dead-on accurate.
  • Went to Friendsgiving at MB and A’s – now an annual tradition the Saturday after Thanksgiving :o)