Taking Back My Twenties

Gatherings

Dirty 30

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 | 4 comments

Hello and happy Monday! We had a big weekend over here because we celebrated Matt’s 30th with all of our Dallas friends.

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I made a big spread of food including both new and old recipes. I made salami chips which were a hit – dipped in spicy hummus, they were amazing!

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Of course, after our trip to Turkey, I had to have feta and olives – the best combo ever.

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I also tried a new recipe for caribbean shrimp – the marinade was delicious and it would have been even better with fresh shrimp (i used frozen).

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And a kale, quinoa, and apricot salad. I think I’m done making healthy salads for parties because no one eats them. This was a good recipe and I’ve been enjoying the leftovers, but next to party foods, kale just can’t compete!

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The rest of the food included caprese skewers with pretty summer tomatoes, and the un-pictured, never-fail party foods: Mexican bean dip and pigs-in-a-blanket (I used spicy chicken sausage for these this time and people loved them).

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So many friends came to celebrate Matt!

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Cake, duh!!

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We consumed beverages like 20-year-olds and then headed out to a fun bar for some dancing.

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Oh my goodness, it was a blast. Happy birthday one last time, Matt!

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A Weekend in NC

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 | 10 comments

I had a wonderful trip east! It was so nice to be back in NC and see so many family members and friends. I visited my grandma in Baltimore first, where I met up with my mom. We did some shopping and lots of eating. I was even able to see Matt’s mom who drove up and joined us for dinner!

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On Friday, I headed down to NC to my childhood best friend’s wedding.

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After a year, it felt so good to be home, and it was nice timing with father’s day!

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The wedding was out on a farm and the scenery was just beautiful. The ceremony was in a meadow and then there was dinner and dancing in a restored barn.

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The bride did a wonderful job with all the little details!

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The ceremony was very romantic and there were many sniffling guests.

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I got to catch up with most of my high school friends throughout the evening – hadn’t see these girls since my wedding last year:(

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There was an incredible dessert bar!!! I tried about five things and all were delish. I took a piece of carrot cake to go and it was divine:)

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My sister was able time come home on Sunday, so we all went out for a grand father’s day bbq brunch at the new Pit in Durham!!

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The food was incredible and made me really miss NC style bbq! Mr. Mazen showed off his perfect table manners by carefully buttering his biscuit – too cute!

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A belated happy father’s day to my dad, my new father-in-law, and all the dads out there!

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East Coast Easter

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 | 10 comments

I got to spend Easter with the family! I headed to my sister’s house in Charlottesville, VA, and both my parents and Matt’s parents came from their states to join us!

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No visit with my brother-in-law is complete without a beer tasting! Kanz brews his own beer and is always interested in feedback/discussion. We kicked off the weekend by comparing two different years of barleywine with the Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine. All were delicious!

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My mom and dad are pretty incredible grandparents to little Mazen and offered to take over the parenting responsibilities so the four of us could enjoy dinner on the town.

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We walked to Bang! on the Charlottesville mall – it felt freezing to my Texas blood and I wore a wool coat and scarf:)

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We sat at the bar while we waited for a table – I sipped on a cocktail made with bourbon and lemongrass simple syrup – delicious!

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I think we ordered nine small plates for the four of us. I won’t bore you with descriptions of all of them, but my absolute favorites were the pork spring rolls,

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the Thai beef with soba noodles, bok choy, and cilantro sauce,

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the sesame tuna,

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and the tempura haricot vert!

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On Saturday, I went to a crazy athletic conditioning class with my sister – it was hard, but pretty similar to my regular Saturday morning class, and I felt incredible afterwards!

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Matt, my parents, and I headed out to the countryside for some wine tasting mid-morning. I think we all have our eyes closed in this picture. We met Matt’s parents at Barboursville and enjoyed tasting some great Virginia wines.

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And a picnic!

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Great Harvest sandwiches, crab chips from Maryland, and a dry riesling made for the perfect lunch.

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Saturday afternoon, we all retired to my sister’s giant yard for bocce ball and conversation.

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Our hosts cooked an awesome spread of pulled pork, beet salad, mushroom and pea risotto, and Virginia rolls fresh from the bakery!

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But some of us were most excited for dessert!

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Cupcakes, peanut butter fudge, and chocolate truffles rounded out Easter dinner, and I went to bed stuffed.

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We all gathered on Sunday morning for brunch, and then it was back to the airport to start the long trip home:(

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Hope yall got to relax this weekend too, if you celebrate the holiday. It’s always sad saying goodbye, but there’s lots going on here this week! Positive vibes are always welcome if you want to send them my way:)

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Rustic Beer Saturday & Sundown on Sunday

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 | 1 comment

Pizza and wine is becoming a Friday favorite! We opened a local bottle that we received from a friend. It was light and spicy.

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I threw together a pizza with leftovers from our pineapple crockpot chicken along with sheep’s manchego, spicy bbq sauce, and cilantro. Pizza is always good. And we watched Rent because I had never seen it! I was impressed Matt knew many of the songs:)

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Saturday we hit up bootcamp and made a hearty lunch in preparation for some beer drinkin. We were supposed to attend a crawfish boil, but because of the weather, the gathering turned into a visit to Community Brewing. We had been once before, and this time they had a new bar area and many more choices. I accidentally drank all three pints, and after hours of conversation, we decided to go in search of dinner. It was a lovely afternoon and I made new friends in addition to catching up with newish old ones.

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We wanted something low-key, so we walked to the Rustic for Texas homestyle cookin.

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They had a great beer list, but I decided on a pricky pear margarita in honor of our trip to AZ (but really because I was tired of beer!).

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We shared two apps and a burger. Above, the cactus fritters (soo good), and below, the smoked catfish and crackers.

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The burger was a bit dry, but I loved the bun and the green chilies that were served with it. The mashed sweet potatoes were amazing!

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We rarely get dessert in restaurants, and were def. not planning to order one on Saturday, but then I saw this go by….

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A giant peanut butter pie – who can resist?

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I usually get to the grocery store on Friday or Saturday, but didn’t make it this week, so we decided brunch was in order on Sunday. We went to Sundown on Granada, which is officially my new favorite brunch spot! It’s on the hippy side and has incredible vegetarian and vegan options. We had been once before, but only sat at the bar for apps. I started with the vegan green drink made with kale, bananas, berries, cucumbers, mint, agave, and it really hit the spot.

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We definitely only needed one brunch entree, but I had no idea they were gonna be so big! I had their version of a vegan benedict, which was swiss chard, sweet potato hash, chipotle-avocado sauce, and fire roasted salsa, over a housemade quinoa burger. I’ve been a bit disappointed in quinoa burgers lately, but this one was full of flavor (and giant).

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Matt’s benedict was ridiculously good too, and consisted of Shiner brisket and bbq hollandaise over whole wheat molasses toast. I was in a definite food coma after this brunch, but it was good for grocery shopping afterwards because I stuck to my list exactly. And good fuel for the week! I’m working three days and have yet another interview. Hope yall had a good Monday! Adios.

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Vegas

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 | 14 comments

Vegas is intense! I can’t believe how many people were there – I arrived and was like, oh, this is where everybody has been all these years!

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I got to our hotel just as the sun was setting on Friday night! I was the last to arrive and it was glorious to walk into a hotel room of friends! My friend Emily was our host for the weekend and she did an amazing job planning everything and getting us on lists so we could skip the lines and the cover charges! She also works for the Las Vegas Sands, so we got a ridiculously low rate at the Palazzo.

We listened to an epic playlist while getting ready and then headed to the lobby for dinner at SushiSamba. I’m not a sushi person, so I never would have picked this on my own, but it was amazing!

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We had wonderful service, excellent cocktails, and delicious food!

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Highlights included the fried plantains and the sea bass skewers!

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And a complimentary cocktail tower!

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After dinner, we headed across the street to the XS club at the Wynn.

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The club was giant and had an awesome outdoor area.

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I had no idea it was going to happen, but David Guetta appeared as the DJ at 2am!!

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He was awesome, and we made our way to the pit to get a better look!

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Most of us east and central time zone people couldn’t sleep in so we grabbed green juice, hit the gym, and got some lunch at the pool. It was a little too chilly for bathing suits, but I enjoyed a nap under a towel in the wonderful sunshine.

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Saturday evening we got all dolled up for our second night on the town (I definitely could not have handled a third night!).

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Our destination was the Cosmopolitan hotel, where we had drinks in the Chandelier bar. Bourbon for me!

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We had dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Rose.Rabbit.Lie at the Cosmopolitan. The menu was all small plates, so we shared a bunch of dishes, and every single thing I tried was phenomenal. The above brussels sprouts with crispy chicken skin were maybe the best I’ve ever had. The coolest part about dinner though, was that our table was backstage and we dined while a show was happening on the other side of the wall. All the performers would come through the dining room, warm-up with a small act/performance, and then enter the stage door.

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We saw so many interesting things, like this upsidedown man!

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Our main event for the night was the Marquee nightclub. One of Emily’s [INCREDIBLY generous] friends got a table for us! It was wonderful to be able to have drinks (and water!!) right there and be able to sit and relax if we wanted too.

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We spent a large portion of the night debating if the man in the black suit in the left-ish part of the picture was Paul Rudd. If it wasn’t, he was an exact look alike!

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We had [too much] champagne and I loved the girls with sparkers who would bring out the bottles. They even changed outfits each time!

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Needless to say, it was a magical night!

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We ended the trip with brunch at Bouchon Bistro.

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I enjoyed a spiced doughnut and a glorious corned beef hash in honor of St. Patrick’s day. I was super impressed with the food in Las Vegas, and I told matt we are going back just to eat.

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A gigantic thank you to my friend Emily for totally spoiling us and bringing us all together!!!

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Birthday Party + Couch Weekend

Posted on Mar 10, 2014 | 9 comments

This weekend involved both partying and resting. I made tons of cupcakes on Friday! Half were for my friend Liz’s birthday party, and half were for the Duke/UNC watch party we were supposed to attend.

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I made strawberry buttercream, but used too much strawberry – the flavor was great, but these melted under the patio heater later on. This has happened to me before so I should have known to be careful! Next time I might try freeze dried strawberries.

I hosted a paloma pre-game party before Liz’s birthday dinner at Mesomaya. I’d never made palomas before (they are pretty simple), but I thought they turned out well. I have way too much tequila left over though!

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A group of about 15 of us enjoyed dinner on the patio of Mesomaya. I ordered an avocado margarita, which was fabulous! Dinner was lots of guac and a delicious ceviche salad. I really liked Mesomaya (especially the cute courtyard), and I want to go back to try more entrees!

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After dinner and messy cupcakes, we moved on to the Ritz bar and enjoyed the outdoor fireplace. We ended our night at the Loon – I think the birthday girl had fun!

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My weekend snapshots end there because I spent the rest of the weekend on the couch:( Matt came home from a business trip and was pretty sick with some kind of stomach bug, so we just relaxed at home. Poor guy. We didn’t make it to the watch party on Saturday night, but I sent my cupcakes with a friend and we cheered Duke on at home. I enjoyed a beer while Matt sipped on a homemade sports drink concoction. I also made soup, although Matt couldn’t really eat it, so I’m eating all the leftovers. So that’s that.

Hope some of you got to enjoy the warmer temperatures and you all survived springing forward:)

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