Archive | July, 2011

Great Night To Celebrate

26 Jul

When I think Monday I normally go straight to “ugh, back to the real world.”  This particular Monday, however, was one I have really been looking forward to!  Despite all the crazy things that have been happening lately, I have found excitement in some small things.

After work I skipped the gym and went straight home to knock a few things off of my to-do lists (yes that’s plural) and get ready for this evening.

When Jake made it home from work we quickly changed and drove a few minutes down the road to the home of our new landlord. We have sealed the deal, folks! The lease is signed! I can now breathe in, breathe out and retrieve my sanity.

Is this even normal?

As soon as we finished up with the lease, we rushed over to one of our favorite little sushi restaurants to celebrate.  Our celebrations were not limited to our new home though; we were joined by our favorite couple: Amber and Joe Ben!

JB embarassing Amber...again.

Amber and I have known each other for a few years now, and is one of my best friends.  She and Joe Ben also had some celebrations in order: Amber’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the one person who will answer the phone in the middle of the night when I have something stupid to say 🙂  We have spent our birthdays together for the last few years and I have to say that this has definitely been the most tame (except for some Sake).

Apple Infused Sake = Amazing

The restaurant where we dined, SakiTumi, is actually a place I worked while in college.  In my opinion they have some of the best sushi in town, and I surely wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to stuff my face enjoy some time with Amber and JB.

On Mondays, SakiTumi has an awesome special – 2 for $28.  Jake and I definitely took advantage of that!  The deal includes an adult beverage, an appetizer, and an entree per person.

Jake enjoyed a draft Sapporo, while I sipped on a light and refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio.  My appetizer choice was the Miso Soup, which I loved.

Fire Island Roll

And oh. my. goodness. My favorite sushi roll in the whole world was my entree of choice.  The Fire Island Roll.  Shrimp tempura with avocado, rolled in soy paper and topped with spicy tuna tartar and crispy tempura flakes. Delish!  Jake and I shared a few pieces of Butterfish  too (also amazing).

Post Sushi Attack

I guess Amber liked her sushi roll too!

And if you thought our indulgent meal wasn’t enough, Amber directed us to one of the best little dessert spots in the city.  Nonnah’s is only a few blocks away from SakiTumi and has the most delectable and coma-inducing desserts I have ever had.

Jake's slice of Heaven

Mr. Jake chose the “Chocolate Temptation”.  A rich chocolate cake with Godiva liquor, layered with vanilla cream filling, finished with chocolate ganach.

My Sinful Delight

I, however, chose the Turtle Cheesecake.  A pecan-filled cheesecake topped with chocolate, caramel and even more crunchy pecans.  The cheesecake was so wonderfully airy and though I’ve never tried nuts in a cheesecake before – I’m in love.

Phew, now I’m super Fat and Happy and I seriously cannot complain.  What a productive, fun, relieving kinda Monday!

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Crazy Pants

25 Jul

Who does this!? Three to-do lists, really? Only me.

image

T minus 5 days!

I guess I wore my crazy pants today.  Time to get crack-a-lackin’ before the celebrations start tonight!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

24 Jul

It was really great to be able to enjoy a standard Saturday for a change.  Due to all of the events we have had lately, most of my weekends have been dedicated to planning this and doing that.

With our move coming up very quickly, Jake and I spent most of the day packing and cleaning.  Late in the afternoon, when our efforts were exhausted, I headed to the kitchen to get cookin’.  Earlier in the week one of my friends, Heather, asked if I would bring a dish to Tyler’s Cookout.  Of course I was happy to do so, and she specifically requested my Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Sure, everyone and their mother has this recipe; but I like to think mine is a little something special for all my favorite people.  The dip is pretty basic, recipe-wise, however I end up making it a little differently every time.  This is one of those things that you really just have to make your own.

Here’s what I did:

2 Cans Chicken (yes, cans)

2 Cups Cheddar Cheese (shredded)

2 Packages Cream Cheese (cubed)

2 Cups Ranch Dressing (I used Fat Free)

2 Cups Buffalo Wing Sauce (I used Texas Pete Wing Sauce)

1. On Medium, heat the hot sauce in a large saucepan until warm.

Hot Hot Heat

2.  Add chicken and stir until chicken is broken up and completely shredded.  Allow to warm until the mix begins to bubble.

3.  Add chunks of cream cheese and allow to melt.  Stir mix until there are no more chunks in the pan.

Packing in the Calories

4.  Fold in Ranch dressing and warm until mix begins to bubble.

Ranch-a-holic

5.  Add Cheddar and allow to melt before folding in.

I keep my dip in a crock pot when serving, to keep it warm.  However, it is still delicious when eaten cold.  Sidenote:  this dip is obviously in no way healthy at all. Whoops!

Not to toot my own horn, but this dip was delish! I made sure to put some aside for the Honorary Guests for their long drive.

Gift for the Road

I think everyone had a great time at the cookout.  It was wonderful to be able to spend time with all of our friends in a laid back environment (even though it was 108 degrees outside).  This was perfect for all of us to be able to spend one last fun night with Tyler and Biff before they ride off into the New Hampshire sunset.

Tyler & Biff

While this was surely bittersweet, I know these two enjoyed being with their loved ones.  We stayed up late and all avoided the “goodbyes” for as long as we could; I was able to escape without tears.  The evening ended on a happy note, and we all took some memories with us for sure.

T & B will be back as soon as possible (they better be), because football season is right around the corner, and I know they cannot miss a little Gamecock action! In Tyler’s Facebook words: “This is not goodbye South Carolina, its see ya later!”

Movin’ on Up, Cleanin’ on Out

21 Jul

Drumroll please…..we got it! Yes! We finally decided on a house, and put down some moola today; and if you can’t tell, I’M SO EXCITED!

House hunting is over, which means it’s moving season y’all!  Our house is filled with boxes, newspaper, tape and smells like a Sharpe. By the way, packing up a house has got to be the most boring and tedious thing I have ever done.  It should be second nature by now, but I seriously cannot understand how some people do this for a living.

We’ve officially started the moving process, Hallelujah, and I have started to realize just how much junk stuff we have.  When Jake and I moved in together, we brought an entire household of possessions, each.  Now we’ve ended up with TOO MUCH!

Instead of moving all this crapola, we’ve decided to start cleaning house. Out with: the duplicates, the stuff we don’t actually need or want, items that are broken, or things we can easily replace (I have no clue why we held on to some of this stuff).  The more we bag up now, the less we have to pack and move later.

Bag 'o Junk

There really is something so therapeutic about letting stuff go.  It almost freeing! Even liberating! Kind of exciting!  While digging through the junk-ola, I’ve found little surprises left and right – who actually needs 17 serving spoons (yes, 17)? Or 200 t-shirts (eh em, Jake)?

Believe me now? seven - freaking - teen

Thankfully, Jakers has been pretty generous with his trash pile – he dreads hauling all this as much as I do. Out with the t-shirts that haven’t been worn in 3 years; out with old worn shoes; and finally out with that fugly old recliner (can I get an AMEN?!)

Yeck! These are falling apart!

A few down, plenty more to go!

Do you think Jake will notice if I get rid of these?! 🙂

Dirty, Stinky, and Nasty

Just a Tease

21 Jul

This day has absolutely flown by!  I suppose it helps that I have felt a little relief after receiving a very encouraging email yesterday afternoon.

Lets rewind a schmidgen: a few weeks ago we found a house that we loved.  It had everything we wanted and it was right in our price range.  Unfortunately, the landlord was looking for someone to move in ASAP, otherwise she was planning on moving herself in.  Since our lease was not up until September 1, we thought this house would be “the one that got away.”

However, we have changed our move date to August 1 (thanks to last weekends events), and the landlord was willing to show the house to us again! Ohmygoodnessgracious – you have no idea how happy this made me.  Well, we went to see the property again tonight and well, I’m not going to jynx it, but you will find out our final decision tomorrow! (sorry for the tease)

After checking out the house, I headed over to a very special Girls Night In.  Tonight will be our last girls dinner with our beloved friend Tyler.

Dr. Davis

She is taking a huge leap and leaving her southern roots for New Hampshire (Boo for us :()

We had a great time catching up, goofing off, gossiping, and of course stuffing our faces with homemade enchiladas and drinking some wine.  None of us are very happy about our precious Tyler leaving us, but this has got to be a very exciting time in her life.  I know that her and Biff are ready to start a new chapter, together.  We have one last event with Tyler this weekend, her going away party (I’m determined not to have ANY FUN. So there.)

Becca enjoying some wine!

Becca made dessert

The Ladies

We love you and miss you already TD!

Break-Ins and Birthdays

19 Jul

I have come to terms with the fact that I am overly dramatic, ridiculous, and out of control most of the time.  And get ready folks, ’cause it just got worse.

For once, Jakers and I decided to take the night off and hit the town!  We went to see our friend Darrell (aka Parelli Blu) perform at a local spot downtown. It was really great to be able to wind down, have fun, and spend some good time with our friends.

The last thing we were expecting after such a fun night was broken glass and torn wires.  You guessed it, we were robbed. We are no longer the proud owners of a flat-screen, and I have lost all my work/pictures/writing samples since they nabbed my laptop on the way out.  I guess I am the most naive person on Earth, because I honestly never thought it would happen to me 😦

Jerks ripped the TV out!

The buggars smashed in a window and let themselves out the back door.  Thankfully, the pups were locked up and were just fine when we checked on them. Now our main concern is getting outta-here!

In other, happier news, yesterday was my schweet little sister’s birthday!  She is almost legal (which means I’m almost an old geezer)! On Sunday, Jake and I spent most of the day packing up our house, and talking with the Landlord about breaking our lease early.  Fortunately, we were able to spend our evening with our favorite little Schmemily.

Birthday Pressies! (and hot dog buns)

Cute little Cup Cake

Happy Birthday Emily! Love you!

Ballin’ on a Budget: Social Life

15 Jul

Mi Madre inspired this post, yes sir! A recent late-night convo with my mom, which included her telling me i’m not that far off from turning 30 (thanks a lot!), made me realize how much  money I don’t need to be spending these days.  Sure, everyone is “the economy this, the economy that”, but as a twenty-something who is fresh to this big bad world — I need to be cheap counting my pennies. 

Lets face it, your first job out of college is not going to pay the big bucks.  It is common knowledge that you will pretty much start out at the bottom of the totem pole (put in your dues)!  A career is something you build, after all.  I have to admit that I’m not struggling (not eating ramen for dinner at night), but I’m certainly not going on shopping sprees like I used to, and I certainly have not built the nest egg that I so desperatly need.  I have had to find ways to continue to enjoy life, but save some moola at the same time.  And so..my “Ballin’ on a Budget” series of posts is born. At first, some of the things I cover may be common sense to you, but bear with me — it will be a constant work in progress.

Tonight’s Ballin’ on a Budget tips will focus on how to maintain your social life and pay your student loans all in the same month.  Thar she blows:

1.  Reality Check:  You are fresh out of college.  Mom and Dad no longer pay those essential bills (Phone, Insurance, etc).  Student loans are kicking in.  You need to face facts – you cannot afford to go out on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  You can no longer buy a round for all your buds every night. Get over it.

2. Take the Party to the House:  Try to limit your bar hopping and find other ways to have a good time with your friends.  My girlfriends and I found a very simple solution: girls night in.  Grab a couple of friends, a few cheap bottles of wine, and bring an ingredient to contribute to the meal.  Lets do some math:

Cinco de Mayo with the girls

Girls Night Out:

Sushi  & Sake (30 including tip) + 4 drinks at a cheap bar (12) + shots (15) = $57.00

Girls Night In:

Garlic Bread for spaghetti (5) + 1 cheap bottle of wine (10) + a few glasses of wine from another bottle (free) = $15.00

That is a savings of $42.00!!!! That is a whole tank of gas, or a mani-pedi (with tip)!  If you substituted one night out with one night in, you could save more that $150 per month.

3.  Suck-it Movie Theatre:  The movies may seem like an inexpensive means of entertainment, but these days think otherwise.  Jake and I L-O-V-E movies and this is surely a weakness for us.  We have learned to deal with it, and wait – yes wait – for the movies to come out in the Redbox or On Demand.  It sucks having to hear all the fun one-liners, but frankly there is no way I can afford to go see every movie I want in the theatre.  Lets do some math:

At the Theatre:

Tickets for two (18) + Popcorn/Soda (9) = $27.00

At Home:

Movie On Demand (4.99) + Popcorn (1.50) + 2 Sodas (3.00) = $9.50

That is a savings of $17.50

4.  New kinda Date Night:  Date night is something Mr. Jake and I cherish.  With so much going on in our lives, we rarely get a chance to really indulge and relax.  Unfortunately, date night for us is not just grabbing a bite to eat – we tend to go all out.  This year, however, we have made a few changes to our date nights.  For Valentine’s Day, we opted to have a fondue night at our house rather than go out.  Not only did we save money, but it was a lot more fun – and we didn’t feel rushed to finish our meal so the next reservation could sit.  Lets do some math:

The Perfect Date Night Snacks

Valentine’s Day at The Melting Pot (fondue restuarant):

All inclusive 5 course meal + 1 bottle champagne = $160-$180(including tip)

Fondue Date Night at Home:

Ingredients for a 3-course meal (around 50) + 1 bottle wine (10)  = $60

That is a savings of $100-$120!! Wowzers!  Jake and I like to have a date night at least once a month, so if we did at least half of our date nights at home, we could potentially save $600 per year.

 4.  Utilize Social Media:  I cannot say it enough people; join networks like Groupon and LiveSocial! If and when we go out to eat, or go out for drinks – its usually because we have a Groupon for the place. This works for us because its like we are using a gift card (doesn’t feel like we are blowing too much money), and this way we feel comfortable trying new places without spending money somewhere we will potientially not like at all.

5. Happy Hour Heaven:  Instead of meeting up with friends for an all-night rager, why not trying the “just one drink” game out for size?  I generally try to stay in on weeknights, but if I do make an appearance somewhere it is usually only for Happy Hour.  Use Happy Hour to your advantage!  My favorite beer is usually 3-4 dollars in restaurants and bars where we live, but at Happy Hour it is only $2. Who doesn’t love that?!  If a penny saved is a penny earned, then save those pennies girlfriend!  Every single one counts! 

Peachy Rita Happy Hour

Question:  What are some ways you save money, and still have a good time? 

Coughity Cough, Sneezity Sneeze

13 Jul

Moving may very well be the number one source of my stress these days.  Earlier this month, Jake and I officially told our landlord where he could put his flippin mess house – actually we wrote him a very  nice 60 day notice.  This means that for the next two months, I will be in freakout-mode (get ready people!)

Freakout-mode is no fun, no fun at all.  By the end of all this, I will be lucky if Mr. Jake doesn’t have me committed.  He happens to be a last minute, fly by the seat of his pants kinda guy; I happen to be slightly neurotic and hyperorganized.  Lucky him!  Thankfully he has a very high tolerance for my crap-ola. 

For the past 3 weeks I have been obsessively scouring the web and driving around the city trying to find a place to live.  At one point we thought we had the perfect home, ready-to-go.  Boy were we wrong-o (for getting our hopes up).  The landlord of this beautiful, completely renovated home, decided she was moving in instead 😦 sad day.  Now we are back to square one and i’m already having visions of Jakers and I on the side of the road, homeless, with two houses worth of furniture and the dogs.  Pathetic!

To add to my ridiculousness right now, I have somehow gotten a cold – despite the fact that it was 112 degrees today.  How does that happen?! Only me, I swear.  Despite the sore throat, coughity cough and sneezity sneeze – I was a woman on a mission today.  The packing festivities have begun.  The sunroom? check!  Bookshelves? check! okay, so that’s as far as i’ve gotten – but please just pity me today alright?!

Packing up!

Tadaaa! Sidenote:  Is anyone else excited for Harry Potter?!  I grew up on the books – got one every year for my birthday, and I’m obsessed.  I’m thinking this movie will be very bittersweet for me 😦

In other randomness…has anyone ever tried Trident Layers?  I picked up this little gem while running errands on the way home and HELLO, where has this been all my life.  I love, love, love

Scrum-diddly-umptious!

And the Fun Rolls On..

11 Jul

I have obviously been completely MIA for two weeks..Whoops!  Remember a few weeks ago when I said that my life is going to be totally insane? I meant it!  Lets do a little rundown on all the things I have left you out of (sorry):

  • Happy Birthday to: My beautiful mama, my wonderful Nay (grandmother), and Jake’s dad, Mr. John

    Momma with her Girls

  • Making the big decision to give our landlord our notice and blow this popsicle stand!
  • Celebrating the two year anniversary of Brock’s arrival in our lives (we got him June 28, 2009)

 

  • Sophie and Vladdy’s wedding weekend extravaganza: aka the craziest two days of my life!
  • The unbearable heat that South Carolina has imposed on us.  I am seriously living in the Devil’s Armpit (105 at noon today!)

More tomorrow, I swear!