Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Birthday Presents!

So I had a most excellent birthday last week, and I must admit that it was a rather practical birthday in terms of gifts... to my delight! Now I know I'm getting old. Some of these gifts I received outright, some I purchased with giftcards, but all are things I love!

Paula Deen Recipe Journal - DW and SW got me this, autographed by Paula at The Lady & Sons in Savannah! Can't wait to fill it with my recipes and notes.

Aurora Desktop Shredder - I had a pile of paperwork to shred, and no shredder. Perfect, and practical! Has a cute spot in my office.

Rowenta Stainless Steel Iron - I do a lot of ironing now that I have sewing for a hobby! Mom said to get a Rowenta, so when they sent me a giftcard, it's the first thing I picked out! I also got a new ironing board from Walmart.

Krups Spice Grinder - Okay, so it's a coffee grinder. But I got some awesome whole garam masala from Spices Etc., which needs to be roasted then grinded before use. This will come in handy for my whole spices! I don't drink coffee, so no risk of any morning surprises. :)

Fiskars Rotary Cutter/Mat - JH told me I needed this for cutting sewing patterns. Should save me a LOT of time!

Paula Deen 17-Piece Cutlery Block Set - This set is actually sold out most places now, but it is amazing and includes a Santoku knife. LOVE how sharp these are, and the chef's knife is my new best friend! I needed to replace my old set, and this was perfect.

Williams-Sonoma Antibacterical Cutting Board - My old plastic boards are cut up, meaning they could be harboring bacteria! I thought about a wood butcher-block style board, but the reviews showed that there tends to be warp, they need mineral oil care-taking, and aren't dishwasher-safe. This one was different, so I figured it's worth a try!

Garlic Press-Slicer - How do I not own a garlic press already?! I am a garlic fanatic, so this was a no-brainer. I chose this one because it has both a press and slicer. Perfect!

Chef'n Citrus Juicer - Normally, I just halve citrus and squeeze by hand, like Giada does on TV. But I don't feel like I'm getting all the juices that way!

Goldtouch Cooling Rack - I don't have a cooling rack, and I need one. I am constantly baking, and this would help a lot! I feel like I sometimes burn the bottoms of cookies by leaving them on the hot pan to cool. This will also rock over a cookie sheet for GLAZING!

I think anyone would agree that I was a VERY spoiled girl this year!!! My friends and family were way too generous, and I love everything I got. I know they are practical gifts, but they are exactly what I wanted.

I'm already getting ideas for Christmas... Sur La Table is my new favorite website to drool over! Doughnut pan? Cake stands? Metal measuring cups and spoons? Or an awesome waffle iron? :-) Too bad birthdays only come once a year!!!

[Later... I am placing bets I don't make it until JULY without those things finding their way into my house, let alone Christmas!]

What about Glee?

"Aubrey, what happened to your weekly posts about everything GLEE???"

Honestly, while I enjoy watching the show every week, I've been so busy that I haven't really thought to update my thoughts on the show. I rarely get to watch it when it airs, so I feel like updating late just kind of misses the point. The show isn't coming back on until April 19th, so we have a while before another new episode... maybe I'll get back into it.

What have I liked lately? Gwyneth Paltrow's return, as well as Rachel stepping up her game! I've really enjoyed a lot of the songs, even though I think the original songs were just 'okay'. I loved the drinking party episode, and Rachel was awesome in it. AWESOME. Sue Sylvester is awesome as usual, but she could step up her game a bit and be more evil. Cameos: Gwyneth, John Stamos, Kathy Griffin... LOVE.

What have I disliked? I'm sick of the Warblers. Blaine was cute and all initially, but let's just drop him already and get Kurt back to McKinley High. Also, what's up with Emma? The Will/Emma storyline is a lot like the Luke/Lorelei storyline from Gilmore Girls, it's going to be played out over and over until we scream "ENOUGH ALREADY!" (Note: I was a HUGE GG fan and even got to visit the set before it was cancelled, though the Stars Hollow outdoor set was closed for filming that day. Still crushed I missed out on seeing it.) I'm a big fan of John Stamos on the show, and I don't see how Emma could choose Will over him. I'm also a fan of a Holly/Will romance, so let's do it already! Also, what about Santana losing her mojo? I'm fine with her loving Brittany, but she needs to continue to be the conniving, evil biotch I've grown to love.

Basically, I want everyone to stay in character, sing songs that aren't over-produced, and continue to have awesome cameos by famous people I like. Can you hear me, Fox?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cherry Blossoms & Cupcakes

I had an amazing weekend celebrating both my birthday and my friend JP's wedding in Washington, D.C. The best part of the entire trip is that our group of five from college (me, JP, AE, MC, and KT) were finally reunited for the first time since 2007! I literally cried when MC and AE picked me up at the airport, Georgetown Cupcakes and birthday card in hand. MH, another teammate from college, was there too, and a group of us crashed at MC's place in Bethesda for the weekend. (She is a brilliant girl finishing up med school this year before pursuing a career as a SURGEON, and a great friend! I always brag about her.)

That night, we all got together for Indian food at Tandoori Nights, one last evening at the bars with a single JP, and headed home for some rest. The day of the wedding, we had a morning jog, breakfast at home, then headed to Fort Myer for the wedding.

The wedding was beautiful!!! I loved it, and it was perfect for JP and her hubby. Their reception, however, was even MORE stunning. Held at Top of the Town, we had an amazing view of D.C., and we had a ball dancing the night away.

The weekend, alas, was too short. After brunch in Bethesda, we parted ways. AE accompanied me on the Metro to the airport, with a pitstop at the National Mall to check out some of the famous cherry blossoms in bloom! It was the perfect ending to a sweet weekend, one where I was constantly happy and pinching myself that I have such great friends. XOXOXO to my girls!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Role Models

I know my blog tends to be a lot about food and clothes and shopping and whatnot, but I've been thinking a lot about my life in general and have come to the conclusion that every once in a while, I can afford to be more serious here.

Yesterday, I had a chance to see one of my long-time mentors, Donna McAleer. She wrote a book called Porcelain on Steel: Women of West Point's Long Gray Line. (Read my review of the book here!)

After hearing her speak at a Women's History Month event, I was able to catch up with her and fill her in on what's been going on in my life. And though our time was limited, I really felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I heard her advice to me, and her understanding was exactly what I needed. I realized how much I missed the strong female mentors I had during my college years; now, everyone is scattered to the winds, and so much of my interactions with the women who have shaped the adult that I am are via e-mail. To have that face-to-face interaction again was something great for me.

I really, truly believe that we need everyday heroes in our lives, people who inspire us to want more and pursue our dreams. And yesterday I realized how lucky I am to have so many people who want me to be happy and successful and fulfilled.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Furniture!

So I needed new living room furniture, but had never bought any myself before! I had an idea of what I wanted, but needed to look around before I made any decisions. Finally, I decided on a pair of sofas from Rooms to Go (the coordinating pillows are still en route), a TV from Best Buy, a coffee table from Overstock.com, and a TV stand from Amazon.

All in all, I'm pleased with the results! The sofas are a soft ultra-suede, and I really love the aesthetic. I was going for a girly/cottage feel, though my coffee table is modern. What I love about the coffee table is the built-in "tray" where I can keep my remote controls and coasters to leave the rest of the table space open for magazines, drinks, whatever I want! After spending a long time with my living room empty, I am glad to finally have furniture again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Erin go bragh!

St. Patrick's Day is the biggest holiday in Savannah... so much so that they gave me Thursday and Friday off work to enjoy it!

Wednesday night, I went out to dinner at Cha Bella with LC & AM, in celebration of AM's birthday! The food was delicious (I had the braised beef short ribs with crispy house-made gnocchi) and I had this amazing drink called a basileto, which was basically a mojito with pineapple juice and basil instead of mint. YUM. All of the food at Cha Bella is organic, and everything is grown locally on their farm. We loved the concept, and it was a beautiful meal.

We then took pedicabs (I keep the number for Savannah Pedicab in my phone!) to Lulu's Chocolate Bar for dessert. In the spirit of St. Patty's, I had Guinness chocolate cake with a drink of Bailey's on the rocks. We walked back through City Market, after a nice girls' night out.

The three of us spent the night at an adorable B&B, The Spanish Moss Inn, and we loved sleeping in and having breakfast there. The best part? Watching the parade from the beautiful porch! We had a great view. LC had to make sure to find her fiance PB in the parade to give him a big kiss... we had so much fun. We then walked to Forsyth Park to see the fountain with its dyed green water. From there, we parted ways, and I met up with TP and MG for a bit in Wild Wing Cafe, then headed home. I don't party like I used to, but I'm glad I was able to get into the spirit of downtown Savannah during this big weekend. You can't help but love how everyone is so happy and clad in green! (P.S. The dress I made was a hit!)

AM, LC, and me!

LC found her man!

Forsyth Park

TP, MG, and me at Wild Wing

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seeing green! A sewing project.

So everyone knows St. Patrick's Day is a big deal in Savannah... so I thought, why not sew a cute dress for the occasion? I finally set up a corner of the office for my sewing (so I don't have to drag the machine out every time I want to use it!). I bought this green Celtic-print fabric a long time ago, with a plan to finish four aprons and a skirt as "practice" projects before attempting the dress. Well, St. Patty's snuck up on me, so I skipped the two remaining aprons and skirt and dove head-first into my first real apparel project.

It was not easy. I just lack skills at this point, and I wish I'd had more time to practice. I beat myself up because all I see are flaws! But you know what? For a dress that can really only be worn for a specific occasion, I'm really happy with how it turned out! The sash is something I added that wasn't part of the pattern; it needed something more, and I wish it was longer to make a bow, but I like it.

Next project is a sewing machine cover so my machine won't collect dust between uses. My friend CM sent me a pattern, so I am hoping to do that as a quick project sometime soon.

WHEW! I am exhausted.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I love my iPhone!

A couple of weekends ago in Nashville, I finally joined the smartphone bandwagon... I bought an iPhone.

I. am. in. LOVE. How did I live without this thing before? I was a text-messaging fiend, but I could never get online. Now I can use my bank's app to deposit checks (amazing!), stream movies using Netflix, sync to my MacBook for iTunes, calendar, contacts, and photos... I am inseparable from my phone.

For my fellow smartphone users, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite apps!

For shopping, I can't even begin to say how awesome apps are. Amazon, Gilt, Rue La La, and HauteLook all have apps. You can also get Groupon and LivingSocial deals through your phone. If you have a Kroger card, you can use their app to load coupons to your keychain, and Food Lion's app shows what's on sale at any given time. Everything is at your fingertips! I also love getting recipe ideas from BigOven, Epicurious, Whole Foods, and AllRecipes to add to my shopping lists.

My #1 app, of course, is Facebook. I was a Facebook addict before, but now I can get my updates instantaneously. This one is self-explanatory.

GroceryIQ is an app that has replaced the Post-It note grocery lists I used to make, then curse when I would accidentally leave them at home or in the wrong purse. Now, as soon as I notice I need something for the house, I can add it to my list. You can even scan barcodes! I wish it didn't make me enter the prices myself, but since prices vary by store it is nice to have a portable list with me that I can always update, with items sorted by section.

Lose It! is an app I have had on my iPod Touch for a long time now. Over time, it actually helped me lose 17 lbs; now that I have gained some weight back, it is my go-to again to get back in shape. Lose It! takes your weight loss goal and gives you a set number of calories per day to eat. When you add exercise, you get to eat more calories, and it tracks your progress. It is very simple, and has a lot of restaurant/brand name foods already built into its database. I know that calorie-counting isn't the best way for everyone to diet, but what Lose It! does for me is hold me accountable for my snacking/eating binges. I choose to focus on my meals rather than chomping food mindlessly in front of the TV.

Ringtone Maker does exactly what it says... makes ringtones. I can use the (unprotected) music from my iTunes and let's me create ringtones for my phone. It's really great, because it's all FREE. Imagine the money you can save, instead of buying them for $2 each.

I have SO many apps on my phone, and I haven't even mentioned games. But these are a few that, aside from Facebook, you may not have heard of. I'm learning new things about my phone all the time! Are there any apps out there you think I need?
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