Thursday, October 31, 2013

SPICE UP HALLOWEEN


HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE! I'm currently sitting in pjs on my couch with Josh watching Hocus Pocus. We handed out candy to three of the most adorable trick-or-treaters, ate a lot of candy, got our Booritos for $3 at Chipotle and we are now partaking in my favorite holiday tradition with the movie. 

It's pretty much been the perfect day since we won our work costume contest today. My marketing team and I were the Spice Girls. I will say Ryan as our Sporty Spice was our MVP. He was such a good sport!

As my Halloween present to you, please enjoy the hilarious walk down memory lane with all of my Halloween costumes from the past ten years. Treat for sure. :)

2013 - Ginger Spice

2012 - Cat
We passed out candy and carved pumpkins, so I threw on a little easy costume to be festive.
2011 - Taylor Swift 
Josh threw a Halloween party just so I could have an excuse to dress up. This was right before we started dating. :)
2010 - Liz Lemon from 30 Rock
Amanda and I went to a friend's house. We had all just volunteered in the Dominican Republic together. Also, those cheese balls were clutch. 
2009 - Miley Cyrus
I made that shirt. Which I loved. This was the Liz Lemon Wig before I chopped it short. I wore this costume to my office party and it was a hit! I pretty much sang Party in the USA all night. I went to another party the next night that year and did a little Marilyn with my short hair!
2008 - Cat
I think this was when I bought the cat costume. I was living in Manhattan waiting tables at this point. I had to work that night and I went to Deanna's apartment after for a party. We then tried to take a cab to the Village. Never try to take a cab in NYC on Halloween. The traffic was terrible and I ended up just staying in it and riding all the way home. My cabby let me practice my French on him. And let's just say I was a bit hungover the next day!
2007 - Corpse Bride
This was my senior year in college and probably my favorite costume of all time! I found that wedding dress on ebay for $20 and used my stage make up to do a bullet hole. It was awesome!
2006 - Annie Oakley
EAT at it's finest Junior year of college. Deanna was my favorite this year because she couldn't decide if she was an elf or the Jolly Green Giant's side kick. haha.

2005 - Marilyn Monroe
Sophomore year at the Gigio's Halloween Party. I was really excited about this costume because I thought the wig looked so realistic. Laughable!

2004 - 80's Barbie
Freshman year was the year I really fell in love with Halloween. This was the first year EAT all went out together and we had so much fun. Eric was no longer wearing that shirt by the end of the night and I'm pretty sure there are still pieces of chain link in the sidewalk by Jones. Legendary.


What were you for Halloween?


GOODBYE OCTOBER GIVEAWAY

Happy Halloween!!! I am very excited to report that I am dressing up with a few colleagues at work today. We are hoping to win our costume contest so look for a post tonight with costume pictures. Woo!


In honor of my favorite month and one of my favorite holidays, today you have a chance to win a free necklace from Fifth and Mae. I absolutely love their stuff! I have the 'm' initial necklace in white gold and also the little Virginia pendant. The chains are easy to layer and are so delicate that they go with everything. I can't get enough of them.


Take a look at their site and leave a comment letting me know which necklace you would want if you win. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. Easy as (pumpkin) pie!


Fifth and Mae Giveaway - Win A Necklace of Your Choice!

To enter: Leave a comment on this post letting me know which necklace you would want if you win. 

All entries must be received by 11:59pm on Sunday, November 3rd. 

Bon chance!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

TOMATILLO CHICKEN

When I was doing my farm share, I had several weeks where I received these weird little tomatoes. After some google-imaging I learned that they are in fact not tomatoes but tomatillos. A new food to try! While I was pumped to taste them (I learned they are generally used in green salsa) I had no idea how to cook with them. 






So I turned to my best friend for giving advice, Pinterest, and I found this handy little recipe

From their raw state, I began by removing the husks from each tomatillo. Underneath they are a little sticky and they should be firm to the touch. To remove the goo, I rinsed each thoroughly, scrubbing with my fingers, and then dried and quartered each tomatillo. The shucking, washing, drying, and chopping part was the most tedious of this recipe. I also used ALL of the tomatillos I had because I knew I wouldn't use them if I didn't. If you are making this dish, you can probably use half the amount I did (around 15 tomatillos).


After the main ingredient was finally ready (PHEW!), I skillfully chopped up a a few sweet peppers, garlic, some jalapenos, and the world's largest onion. I wore sunglasses to help protect my eyes from the onion fumes but as you can see they were supremely ineffective. I looked like an actual raccoon. I was crying so hard from the onions and rubbing my eyes and the best part of this scenario was that I didn't even realize what I looked like until two hours later when I went to get ready for bed. 

After everything was chopped, it all went into the crock pot to cook for roughly 4 hours. You can't see the chicken breasts here because all of my green veggies are on top. Eventually they cooked down and I enjoyed a delicious tomatillo chicken soup. 


Crock Pot Tomatillo Chicken

Ingredients:
15 tomatillos, fresh, shucked and quartered (I used 30)
1 onion
1 jalapeno
6 garlic cloves roughly chopped
2 cups chicken broth (you can use less, mine was more soup)
2 tablespoons dried oregano (or throw in any spices you like)
2 pounds chicken breast

Instructions:
1. Place the chicken and the broth in the crock pot on the bottom.
2. Throw in all the other ingredients.
3. Put the lid on and cook on high for 3 hours.
4. Pull out the chicken and shred with two forks.
5. Put the chicken back in, stir, and cook for another hour.
6. Voila!


Do you have any recipes with tomatillos?

Monday, October 28, 2013

REAL TALK: TRANSITIONS


There is something about transitions that makes me a little sad. The idea of something you enjoy or have worked hard to complete ending creates a kind of finality that doesn't sit well with me. It's funny though, because even those things that are stressful to start make me feel this way when they end. 

For the past month and a half, I've been working on and performing in a concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber songs. This little show started out as a major source of stress for me. Involving 10 seasoned performers in the area, our rehearsals were a little lackadaisical at first. We each had two or three solos and then two group numbers. We thought it would be super easy to learn however, those group numbers each had six-part harmonies. Yikes. 







By the time we got to opening night, I was scared out of my mind. I had only heard my songs with the orchestra twice and I was terrified I was going to forget the words. I wouldn't even let Josh come to opening - I was that nervous. 

But during the run of our performances, something magical happened (it almost always does in a show) and we hit our stride. I became more confident in my numbers and worried less back stage. The cast started to bond and I learned about the new friends with whom I was working. Most importantly, I remembered what a gift it is to sing, to be a part of a show and have the blessing of being able to perform and do what I love. 





The show closed on Sunday and after all the initial stress, I am very proud of how it turned out. I can only hope that I am able to sing with these talented people again soon.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I AM GRATEFUL FOR FALL



I've been complaining about the cold, and that it's getting dark so early. But really, look at that stunning sunset out my window. How can I not be grateful?

Friday, October 25, 2013

LIEBSTER AWARD

I am so grateful to Jenn from Life Begins with J for nominating me for a Liebster Award. Woohoo!



The Liebster Award in five easy steps:
  1. Link to the blogger who nominated you
  2. Provide answers to the eleven questions you were asked
  3. List eleven facts about yourself
  4. Nominate five blogs with less than 3,000 followers
  5. Ask eleven new questions for your nominees to answer
What a fun way to read new blogs and get to know new bloggers. 

In this post, you can read all of my answers to Jenn's questions, hear eleven rando facts about me, and if you make it to the bottom of the post, see who I nominated!

Eleven Rando Facts about Maureen
  1. I almost always sleep on my stomach. If I sleep on my back I snore. Whoops.
  2. I turn into a pumpkin at midnight. No really, I fall asleep wherever I am.
  3. I sang on a dinner cruise boat in high school.
  4. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose.
  5. I love Brussels sprouts.
  6. I have attached earlobes. (Did you know that trait is genetic?!)
  7. After I paint my nails, I am too nervous to touch anything for at least an hour. 
  8. I thread my eyebrows, never wax. And I def had a uni-brow circa 6th grade. 
  9. I never had braces and I have all four of my wisdom teeth.
  10. Because of that I have to use a baby toothbrush so that the head is small enough to reach my back teeth. 
  11. I have never dyed my hair.

Here are my answers to the eleven questions Jenn asked me. :)

1. Why did you start blogging?
My roommate Allison first introduced me to Julie’s blog and from that point forward it was like a new world was opened to me. Through one blog, I was able to discover an entire world of bloggers, wonderful people with fascinating lives sharing stories. I love people, so I was hooked right away. After a few months of avidly reading, I started to get the itch to start my own blog. At first, I ignored it, really hard. I was scared. But for me, the desire to blog was like an itch that wouldn’t go away. I struggled with some hard times having lost my professional direction and sense of purpose and through all my prayers for direction, God always brought me back to blogging. It hasn’t been a perfect journey—my first post is very different from my more recent ones—but I learn so much about blogging and myself each day and I'm really enjoying it.

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I have so many places that I want to go. I love to travel and if I had unlimited funds I would be on a safari right now. Top places I want to go if I don't think and just answer: Paris, Italy (Venice), Spain, India, Bali, Africa, China, Australia. I went to Paris when I was 14 and have said ever since that "Paris is my homeland." I'd love to go back and just wander the city. But probably the top place on my list is Australia. I want to go hiking and snorkeling and see a new part of the world!

3. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Lying. Do not lie to me. I will never trust you again. Even if the truth hurts, it's better to hear it and process it. Forgiveness is a powerful thing, there is no reason to lie, ever. 

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Dawson's Creek. People, it is so good. I didn't start watching it until it was on DVD my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, but I love it. I will always love it. 

5. What is your biggest fear?
I don't know! I would say that I hate scary movies, I just don't watch them. I do not like being afraid. I think that my deepest fears center around losing someone I love and people killing or hurting others. Just not ok.

6. What is your favorite hobby?
Singing. I studied musical theatre and still perform in the evenings as a hobby. Favorite role recently: Elle Woods. 



7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I've talked a little before about how I've recently been able to admit how much I want to have a family some day. In five years, I see myself married, with one or two little kiddos. I see myself blogging here and helping people find inspiration in their lives. I see myself making videos and taking photos and being an expert in the digital marketing field. I see myself drinking even more pumpkin spice lates and still singing at the top of my lungs in the car. 

8. What is your favorite sport? Team?
I love Northwestern Football and Washington Nationals Baseball. Those are the only two teams I really care about. That being said, I will always have a special place in my heart for the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Capitals as Grandpa used to take Kevin and (sometimes) me to the games when we were wee ones. 



9. What is your favorite family tradition?
I'm not sure if there is a specific tradition I love most. Honestly, I just love being with my family. Whether on vacation with my Dad or my Mom, we are always goofy. I am 100% myself around my fam and for that I am so grateful. If I had to pick just one tradition, it would be that I always open the can of cranberries on Thanksgiving. I do this with a can opener while my mom and brother take pictures and laugh. Then I put the entire can shaped blob into a dish. And put it on the table. It is my favorite and it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without canned cranberries!

10. Do you have any pets?
I grew up with 5 dachshunds. My little babies! I love them so much. I have big plans for adopting a kitty when I have my own place some day. 

11. Who is your role model?
I am so blessed that I have grown up with many strong women in my life. My mom, my step-mom, my Aunt Ellen, my cousin Rachel, and mentors throughout my life have shown me through their fearless examples what it means to be an empowered woman. They are smart, savvy, loving, and fiercely ambitious and I love them very much. 



Annnnnnnd my five nominees...

Emily from The Good Era
Stephanie from Shades of Color Art
Miemo from Miemonster
Laicie from A Thousand Threads


Emily, Stephanie, Miemo, Liz, and Laicie, here are my eleven questions for you. I can't wait to read your answers!

1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
3. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
4. What is your favorite day of the year and why?
5. Who knows you the best out of everyone in your life?
6. What would you say is your biggest accomplishment and why?
7. Do you like where you currently live? Or do you hope to move somewhere else?
8. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
9. How have you grown since January 2013?
10. You suddenly find yourself in a superhero film. What is your superhero power and superhero name?
11. What is your favorite blog to read? (You can only pick one... this one is really hard!)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

HALLOWEEN TREATS GONE WRONG


EVERYONE please watch this. And just love it. Because it's hilarious. Josh showed it to me and I cannot stop laughing. And let's face it. Laughter is music of the soul. Or something. Just watch it.

Especially watch at 0:47. Adrianna, you are my home girl.

Also, little dinosaur man, they totally got you. You really wanted those Nori pops at 0:33.

My heart melts. Much like those gross veggie candies.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BUBBLE BATH

Sometimes you really need to focus on crossing items off of your to-do list. Like taking a bubble bath and accomplishing a 101 in 1001 goal (#22. Drink wine in the bath tub). Very important people. Very important. 

And, while I was being so very productive, I decided to throw on a cleansing face mask. Nothing like alone time to allow you to look like the swamp thing. :)

Also, how hilarious is it that my bathroom is bright pink?! Ah the benefits of living in an older apartment building. Although the rest of the apartment was gutted and renovated right before I moved in. I guess they just loved the pink tile. 

Since this delightful excursion, I have finished Divergent, raced through Insurgent, and am now on to Allegiant which came out yesterday. I downloaded it through Audible so I can listen to it on my commute to and from work. It makes traffic much more delightful. 

Happy hump day! You deserve a bubble bath tonight.









Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKES (GLUTEN-FREE AND PALEO)



Yesterday was one of those work days that makes you want to go to the bathroom so you can cry. Nothing particularly awful happened, it was just so beyond busy that I barely had time to stop and eat. My assistant was out sick and as I am relatively new in my position, I'm not as efficient at my tasks as I would like. Combine that with several new projects, two conferences last week, and my boss asking me where every single deliverable was at the same time... and I was entitled to a good toilet cry.

I am lucky to be employed and have a great job where I can grow. But still... maybe not all the growth on one Monday.

When I got home (late), I immediately jumped into pj's, opened a bottle of red, turned on Pandora and danced around my kitchen while I rummaged for food. For your reference, the Spice Girls Pandora station is AMAZING! It has the best hits from my middle school days including BSB, N'Sync, and Britney. And when I say I danced, I mean I danced. I was flinging my hair around with wild abandon and jumping up and down while I sang like a goofball. I used to do this in undergrad with my roommate Meaghan and it always made all the difference. It did the trick last night too. :)

Excellent, on to the exciting news...

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway. With the help of this trusty random number generator, the lucky winner is ASHLEY!!!!! (Number 1 was the first comment posted and number 18 was the last comment posted.) I've emailed her directly so she can claim her prize. Wahoo!






Lastly but certainly not least, I wanted to share this recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip cupcakes with you. I made them for a colleague's birthday who is gluten-free and the entire office was in love with them. My other colleague actually asked me if she could pay me to make a large batch of them for her engagement party. I was a) shocked, and b) very flattered. 



Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Gluten-Free and Paleo
Based on this recipe.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup raw honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
2 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups coconut flour + 1/2 cup raw, unsweetened shredded coconut
1 heaping teaspoon tapioca starch
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (to make paleo, use dairy-free)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Put cupcake tins into cupcake pan.
Mix together the wet ingredients well.
Add in the dry ingredients to the wet ones and keep mixing.
Bake for 15 minutes and check to see if the toothpick is clean. If they aren't done, leave in for two minutes and check again. Repeat until the toothpick comes out clean.

I frosted these with store-bought vanilla icing, more chocolate chips, and pink sprinkles. Duh. 




Monday, October 21, 2013

PUMPKIN BEER TASTING PART III


I have had such a blast tasting pumpkin beers this fall in part I and part II. Here is the next installment of my tasting notes. Or if you want a more professional opinion, check here

Seven


The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Fredrick, MD

Tasting notes:
-Strong and thick on first taste
-Very dark as far as pumpkin beers go
-Smooth but heavy
-Strong flavors of molasses
-Tastes almost like smoke
-Good but need to drink it slowly
-Heavy and thick, I probably would have more than one
-Slight pumpkin flavors but not sweet at all
4/10

Eight

Starr Hill Brewery
Charlottesville, VA

Tasting notes:
-I just ate a piece of jerky!
-It tastes like meat
-Very smokey and like burnt chocolate
-Very strong and overpowering flavors
-Almost no flavor of pumpkin
-Maybe burned pumpkin
-Smokey, bacon, molasses (is that in everything???)
-Just not suited to my flavor palette at all
-I think it's a little bit like Guinness
2/10


Nine


America's Original Pumpkin Ale
Buffalo Bill's Brewery
Hayward, CA

Tasting notes:
-I like this one right away
-It's really easy to drink
-No strong flavors, very smooth
-Tastes like a light Oktoberfest
-The Miller Lite of Pumpkin Brews... which is meant as a very strong compliment
-Hints of orange and pumpkin
-Not a lot of spice
-Very simple and refreshing
8/10


What is your favorite pumpkin brew this season?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I AM GRATEFUL FOR JOSH


























Look at that face. 'Nuff said.
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