Monday, March 31, 2014

Project Gryffindor Link Up: Beef and Guinness Stew

Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! I had a great weekend celebrating my friend Mary's bachelorette and bridal shower. Despite the absolutely nastiest weather, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. Now, my sinuses are mad at me for having so much fun, so I'm being punished with horrendous congestion. The weather has been SUCH fun this year, truly. 

ALLEGEDLY, things are supposed to warm up today, but there's still a chance for more cold, rainy spring days in our future. This recipe I'm sharing today is absolutely perfect for that kind of weather, and it pairs so well with the Irish soda bread I shared with you all a few weeks ago. Let's get to it!

Beef and Guinness Stew
From the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

  • 2 T vegetable oil, plus more if necessary
  • 2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2 in. cubes (pretty sure though I only got a little over a pound--we don't need that much meat!)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 T all purpose flour
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 1/2 Guiness
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 t ground sage
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pep to taste
  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I only had dried and just threw in a couple of tablespoons to taste)
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1. Heat the oil in a dutch oven or wide pot and add the meat in batches, searing on both sides over high heat 4-5 minutes. 

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Transfer each batch to a large plate until finished. (I'm paranoid about overcooking meat, especially stew beef, which is why I left it slightly rare, since it will cook more later in the pot.)

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2. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil (if needed) to the same pot and cook the onion over med-low heat until softened. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

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3. Add the flour to the pot and stir until combined. Pour in the chicken broth and Guinness, and cook over med-high heat until thickened and bubbling. Add the meat back to the pot (and make sure those juices that have been pooling on the plate get thrown in too!), along with the tomato paste, brown sugar, sage, lemon juice, salt, and pep. 
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Bring it all to a simmer, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

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4. Add the potatoes, carrots, and parsley and continue to simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally and adding more chicken broth or water as necessary to keep the stew from drying out and burning.

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When all is said and done, spoon it into a bowl with a side of Irish soda bread and a glass of Cabernet! 

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A few notes about this recipe: it's a stew, so that means you can't really throw it together on a weeknight. It's definitely something to be enjoyed when you have the time to prep, cook, and simmer. You can obviously mix and match your own spices and vegetables--next time, I'll probably leave out the carrots. I had an eye opening moment when I realized I don't actually like the flavor of cooked carrots. Lastly, if you're not sure about using Guinness, you can replace the beer with coke, and omit the brown sugar.

Now it's your turn! Link up your own HP themed recipes you've tried out, or just share with us the most delicious recipe you've cooked up recently. Not ready to post today? Don't worry, we'll be back on the last Monday of every month to link up again!

All Love.
                               The Grits Blog (Follow Here)                                Thoroughly Modern (Follow Here)

Welcome to our Harry Potter link-up! 

This party is held on the last Monday of every month. Each month we will showcase a recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook!

To Participate:
(1) Please follow your hosts.
(2) Mingle!
(3) Link up with any recipe post and/or Harry Potter related posts!

Harry Potter Link UP!

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Year


I'm so relieved the weekend is here, because that means we are one week closer to the busy season being over. I'm also excited for this weekend, because I have a baby shower, bachelorette party, and bridal shower to attend. I know it will be jam packed but it will be nice to have a fun-filled weekend before this next week rolls around.

Despite all the great things in store for this weekend, I can't help but feel sorrow over the significance of March 29th--it was this day one year ago that we unexpectedly said goodbye to my dear grandma Eide, and it was the day eight years ago that my grandpa lost his battle to pancreatic cancer.

The pain from the loss of my grandma is still an open wound. Even one year later, I will easily break into tears, without warning, when some stray memory crosses my mind. Even one year later, I will unexpectedly think to myself, "I can't wait to tell Grandma," but then I remember and the emotions come rushing back. Even one year later, I'll forget that I won't be spending anymore holidays at the house in Williamsburg, and my heart breaks at the thought.

Even one year later, I wish that this wasn't the reality.

Although I still suffer through intense bouts of grief, I do have happy moments--moments when I remember the person my grandma was, and all that she did for our family. I still feel her presence every day, because she has shaped the person I have become, and I firmly believe she still watches over us.

I don't want to trivialize this situation with a list, but making lists is what I do best, so today I'd like to share some of the best memories I have of my Grandma, and how I learned so much from her wisdom.

- A few years ago, I made a rum cake for a family trip to the beach. It was the first time I had ever baked with alcohol, and I had used 151 rum because that's what I happened to have in my freezer. When I anxiously said, "I made rum cake, but I think I used too much rum!" my grandma quickly responded with, "you can never have too much rum." TRUTH.

- Grandma always had a bag of fun size snickers in her purse, the perfect snack for a trip to the movie theater.

- My grandparents would make every effort to make the 6+ hour drive to visit us on our birthday weekends. Grandma would cook us a roast or leg of lamb, and if it wasn't our birthday, we would still get a small gift to open so we wouldn't feel left out. Grandma was all about making sure everyone was always included.

- Breakfasts were always a treat at Grandma's house--donuts, cinnamon buns, and little smokies galore!

- Comment from Grandma during a baby shower: "heavens to Betsy, is this all the champagne that's left?!" I'm with ya Grandma, an abundance of champagne is crucial in getting through a baby shower.

- During the summer of 2007, I had surgery to help ease my symptoms of Crohn's Disease. I was extremely sick before the surgery, and it took me quite some time to recover, so I was unable to hold a job that summer and didn't earn any income to help with my expenses during the school year. Every month that year, my grandma would send me a check for $25--just to help out, and maybe treat myself. I'll never forget that gesture of kindness.

- The only time I can remember Grandma getting mad at me is when I ate an entire box of ice cream sandwiches for breakfast, while she was out for a morning walk. I have no regrets.

- Grandma was always so welcoming to any friends I brought over, ESPECIALLY Matt. She met Matt about one month after we started dating, and she knew. Matt always gets a little misty eyed talking about, because she had a conversation with him that weekend, and she told him she knew he was the One because she saw it in the way he looked at me. I feel very blessed that she was able to be at our wedding.

- Speaking of weddings, Grandma was a dancer! She said when she and Grandpa were dating, he could never get her to leave the dance floor, and would tell her to "cool it." She always had to be the last one on the dance floor.

- When I looked up that last picture, there was a comment from my cousin that said, "I heard that John said 'I don't know what to do Grandma,' and she said 'just shake your butt!'" I'm still dying over that comment--that is CLASSIC Frances Eide!

- This lady sure had a great sense of style:

-My grandparents would always take us out to Sal's, the most delicious Italian restaurant in Williamsburg. One time, a friend of mine came with me and we went to Busch Gardens. The next day, Grandma took us to Sal's, as per usual. My friend said he would never forget the way my grandma marched in, bypassed the 20+ people waiting to be seated, and stated "I would like a table for four in Della's section." We were seated immediately, because that's how she rolled.

- Christmas was always a warm, magical time at my grandparents' house. Grandma would cook a huge feast, then everyone would harass her until she sat down and finally started to eat--she could never fully sit down because she was dead set on making sure everyone else was comfortable. I'm sure it's where I get my sense of hospitality.

- Christmas also meant it was time for the present extravaganza. As we got older, a "present" usually meant a card and some cash, but Grandma always made sure to pick out one gift for each of the grandchildren. The present fest also turned into a "pile the presents on grandma" fest, and most of them would usually be from a dog (our chocolate lab, Abby, was always extremely generous). One year, I sat next to Grandma and her pile of presents--I was her designated champagne holder. She took one look at the pile of gifts and said, "I'm so embarrassed," and I had to laugh. She never wanted people making a fuss over her, she just wanted our family to spend time together.

I want to thank you all for taking the time to read this post. I know it was long, but it was truly cathartic for me to write this. When I began, I could barely type because I was sobbing so hard; however, as I recounted all of these memories, I was smiling and laughing at the end. I know this may sound cheesy, but that is exactly how she would have wanted it--all laughter and smiles, no tears.

I am grateful for all the time we spent together, and for all that she taught me about life, love, family, and wine. I sincerely hope that I can as amazing and as dedicated to my family as she was to ours.

Have the loveliest of weekends, and I will see you all on Monday for the Harry Potter link-up with Ashley at The Grits Blog.

All Love,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Retail Therapy: My Happy Place

Hello friends! We are ALMOST to the Friday finish line. Almost.

As usual, this week has been LOOOONNNGGG. Even though I took Monday off, everything about the rest of the week has been miserable: freaking snow, cold weather, nonsense at work, and to top it all off, the poor little doodle has been sick.

Like many other bloggers, I have a problem with retail therapy. There's something about the bright lights of department stores, or just getting cash back at Ebates, that makes me want to throw my money around and buy things.
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Lately, however, I've been very good at resisting the urge to shop--except when it comes to grocery shopping. Enter, the Fresh Market.

via Cave Grrl
This grocery store really is my happy place. It is basically like a Whole Foods (so I've been told, because I've never actually been to a WF), and it is wondrous. Maybe it's the mood lighting and hardwood floors, or the line-up of delectable bakery items--whatever the reason, I'm always going to drop around $40 when I go there on food items that I didn't necessarily need.

via TFM
Honestly, most of my love for TFM is for nostalgic purposes. I may have mentioned this before, but we actually went there all the time when we were kids, because there was one located down the street from my grandparents' house in Williamsburg.

TFM was always one of the highlights of the trip. My grandma would already have huge, fresh cinnamon breadsticks waiting for us when we arrived, and my parents would always walk over there with us and would allow us a free sample of coffee (at ten years old, getting a tiny sample of coffee was a HUGE deal). Sure, I only took one or two sips before tossing it, but it was the principle of the thing.

This past year, a TFM opened up in Loudoun, and it is conveniently located right on my way home from work. Anytime I have a long week, or I'm just stressed out, I love to stop on my way home and just walk around (and maybe buy a box of croissants).

The first time I went there was after a particularly long week. I think I had cried almost every day that week, and I was unsure of a lot of things in the future. Even walking into the Fresh Market made me tear up, because it reminded me of Williamsburg, and now that it's been almost a year since we lost my grandma, it reminds me that trips to Williamsburg will never be the same.

As I was checking out that day, the cashier gave me a free rose--NO IDEA why they were giving out free roses, but it made me feel like it was a small sign from my grandma, telling me to stop crying already, things are never really that bad. (And as I type this I feel like I've told this story before, so my apologies if you're getting a total repeat.)

Ever since then, the Fresh Market always seems to have a totally relaxing effect on my psyche (except when I agonize over which gelato flavor I should buy). Sure, I could save that money and buy one of the many items on my spring wish list, but I feel like my purchases are completely justified. It's food (and maybe wine), and that's something that is a need, not a want, right?

via TFM
And now, I congratulate you for reading this long, rambling story about a grocery store (this is why I have a fear of writing personal statements).

What's your happy place?
Treasure Tromp

All Love,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Personal Statement

I have a question and I want you all to answer seriously--when is spring going to get here? I know that we passed the official date on the calendar, and I know we are nearing the end of March, but if Spring is anywhere to be found, I'm not seein' it.

I must have said/done something to anger Mother Nature, and now she's acting sullen and trying to punish me for it (she always was spiteful like that). She must have known Millie was going to have diarrhea this week, which accounts for all the snow we got today. She probably thought to herself, "it will be so fun to watch Katie shiver in the falling snow while she takes her dog outside for the sixth time. That will teach her for making a joke about me three years ago!"

Enough. You've probably noticed I've been a little crabby lately, which is a combination of this extended winter and the fact I am completely and utterly overwhelmed at work. On top of all that, I'm applying to grad school, so I can be officially admitted instead of taking classes willy nilly. My application materials are due April 1st (which is next week--what?!?), and I've got everything together and submitted. Everything but my personal statement.

Let me just say this--personal statements are the worst. You all know I love writing (obvi), but personal statements are my kryptonite. I just don't even know where to start, so I end up rambling about the dumbest anecdotes in the world, and before you know it the person on the other end is scratching their head and marking my paper with a big red X. "No thank you," they think to themselves, "we've got enough crazy here!"

In fact, I'm pretty sure my personal statement is what killed me in my first round of grad school applications. That, and possibly my GRE scores. Okay, and maybe the fact that I only applied to a handful of highly competitive programs also had something to do with it, but that's neither here nor there.

So, dear readers, in order to blow off some steam I've poured myself a Jack and Ginger and I will preview my personal statement for all to see.

Kate's Personal Statement
For immediate use in grad school applications
Let's be honest here--you don't want to waste your afternoon reading a standard, five paragraph essay on why I love Industrial/Organizational psychology soooo much, and I love it sooo much that maybe I should marry it. Real writing is losing its value in today's society, and before we know it everything will be in a nice, Buzzfeed-list format, with all pertinent points illustrated by GIFs--which is exactly what I will offer you today, in lieu of a traditional personal statement.

Let's begin.

First all, my undergraduate GPA was out of control. I had a perfect GPA in my major (psychology, and isn't that the most important?), and my overall GPA would have been perfect as well, if it wasn't for those two damn A minuses I made in Art History Part II and Intro to Shakespeare. (I'll never understand why my professor decided that diagnosing Hamlet with an Axis II personality disorder was not good enough for an A+ on my final).

via Giphy
Point numero dos--I'm very cultured, which will bring a healthy dose of diversity to your program. I enjoy Mexican (Taco Bell), Italian (the pizza guy is on speed dial), British (ever heard of the Harry Potter cookbook?), and even Thai cuisine (I ate fried tofu one time and I liked it).

via Giphy
Speaking of cultured, have I mentioned I like--nay--LOVE wine? You know what that means, right? Wine=classy Kate, classy Kate=totally awesome grad student.

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I know what you're thinking now, "this girl is SO smart, SO cultured, she is way out of our league!" Fear not, admissions crew, because I am IN your league. I'm not like the other brainiacs, I'm a cool brainiac!

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Don't worry though--I'm not some wild, party animal like I used to be back in undergrad. I'm a responsible adult and I spend my nights in responsible ways.

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And one final, key point I would like to make: I've got money to give you. You see, I'm going to give you more money than you need, so in return, I can get a piece of paper that probably won't do anything for me. I don't understand why this is up for debate.

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Thank you for taking the time to consider my application. Please say yes, because you know what will happen if you don't.

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Sharing this post with Virginia Bloggers Friday link-up
All Love,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Treat Yo Self: NOLA Beverage Edition

Happy Tuesday! Today is actually my Monday, so it's back to the grind, but at least this is only a four day week. Despite my day off yesterday, life hasn't slowed down one bit. I'm quite ready for March to be over and for warmer weather to get here--we're supposed to get more snow tonight! That's right, you heard me, SNOW. One to three inches. Mother Nature, I am not okay with this, and just FYI, I'm not inviting you to my birthday party this year. You know why.

You probably thought we were all done with New Orleans posts. Well, you'd be wrong if you thought that--I've got a post today that is ALL about the adult beverages we sampled in New Orleans.

We all know the TREAT YO SELF Code:
Clothes. Fragrances. Maah-sahhhges. Muh-MOSas. Fine. Leather. Goods. TREAT YO SELF.
Therefore, I certainly treated myself to many mimosas while on vacation, but I didn't stop there--when you visit a city with an open container law, you've got to make the most of it. 

(From L to R)
1. I miss everything about the Palace Cafe (pulled pork eggs benedict, get back in my life), and the build-your-own mimosa bar was no exception. (P.S. anytime you're offered a sugared-rim glass, take it.)

2. We stayed one night at the Roosevelt, and OF COURSE we had to get a drink at the super classy Sazerac bar. There were plenty of classic cocktails to choose from, but I went with a gin fizz--it looked real fancy, and it was also to honor my Grandma, whose poison of choice was always gin.

3. There are hurricanes a' plenty in NOLA, but you've got to sample the original at Pat O'Brien's on Bourbon Street. I can't say it's the best, since I actually haven't tried every single one in the city (maybe on the next trip), but I can say it's worth your while. Not to mention, who can say no to a souvenir glass? (I can't, which is why I have about ten "free" glasses hanging out in my house with no place to go.)

4. If you're going to pick up some beignets, you might as well get a cafe au lait as well. Half chicory coffee, half steamed milk, all perfection.

5. What you're seeing here are glasses that previously contained oyster shooters, and they were actually delicious! Usually when Matt ropes me into taking an oyster shooter I shudder at the thought and do my best to actually try not to taste anything. This time, Luke's did it right--with delicious oysters and quality tequila, it made me actually NOT want to vomit.

6. An Irish coffee to go is always the perfect choice for a pick-me-up.

7. Planters Punch and a special mixed up by the bartender--both equally delightful and an unexpected treat at the WWII museum.

I realize this post might make me look like a lush, but we were very tame during Mardi Gras, compared to the rest of the city. I can't sling back liquor like I used to, so we always made sure to balance out every drink with a healthy dose of carbs.

Which of these would you like to try, and what's the best cocktail you've ever had?

All Love,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Another Music Monday, V.16

Hello, friends! After a stressful weekend of working both Saturday and Sunday, AND dealing with a certain little strudel doodle being sick, I am quite ready to take the day off and relax. However, I should clarify that as an adult, "relaxing" actually means laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathrooms, and taking the dog to the groomer. Womp Womp.

Anyway, I've got to tell you about a must-listen artist, Noah Gundersen. My friend Mary introduced me to him and on Saturday night we went to see him in concert. Friends--it was pure magic. I love a good live show, and Noah & Company did not disappoint. From Armon Jay's opening, to the magical harmonies of Abby Gundersen's voice, I was completely captivated. Apparently, everyone else in the audience was captivated too--seriously, there were no raucous drunks trying to pretend to sing along, no side conversations going on during slower songs. The entire venue was so silent--you could hear the toilet flush back in the bathrooms. This is a testament to Noah's talent, and the energetic dynamic of the whole band when they're all on stage together. (And, okay, maybe the toilets in the bathroom are actually kind of loud.)
We were in the front row and I took a total of two pictures. I've failed you all.
I ended up buying Armon Jay's album last night, because the CDs were sitting right there and I had a crisp, new 20 in my pocket waiting to be spent. I listened to it on my hour long drive to work this morning, and it was so perfect for my mood--quiet and relaxing and beautiful but not enough to make me want to fall asleep.

Do yourself a favor and check them all out: Noah, Armon, and even Noah's sister, Abby, who sings with him and has an absolutely gorgeous voice. You won't be disappointed.

What music is fitting your mood this week?

Noah Gundersen by Kate T. on Grooveshark

All Love

Friday, March 21, 2014

I've Still Got It

Hello my dear readers, and happy spring! I'm trying not to celebrate too much, because I don't want to call attention to the weather gods and end up with another snowstorm that is predicted for next week. So, let's all quietly whisper to ourselves, "yay, spring," then go about our business.

Anyway, this is a crazy time of year. It's my busy season at work, which means I'm constantly working late during the week AND working on weekends. I'm having trouble balancing my time with that right now, since I didn't blog during this period last year and I'm still making adjustments. I promise not to give up on this lovely, little blog, but I also may not be able to post five days a week like normal.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's move on to a fun story! I was working late (again) on Wednesday night, pushing our summer camp program at an elementary school's activity fair. Two tables down was some sort of karate/martial arts/kicking program, and the male representative was practically tripping over himself to help me set up my table and "anything else I needed." At that point, I knew he was interested in more than just setting up my table, so I thought it best to avoid him.

Unfortunately, he made sure he was not going to be avoided. As soon as people started to take stuff down, there he was, all eager to once again help with that darn table that was so hard to work without a second person. He didn't stop there. After the table was all packed up, he booked it over the door to make sure he could hold open the door for me. On my way out, he accidentally got punched in the face by the reusable bag on my shoulder--it was seriously accidental, I promise. I yelled "sorry" over my shoulder as I quickly strode to my car. I wasn't trying to get away from him (I was), I just wanted pack up and leave as quickly as possible because Chipotle was calling my name.

Anyway, after my apology, he replies "you're fine," then, as he closes the door, I hear him say a little more quietly, "LITERALLY, you're FINE!" At that, my face turned beet red and I dreaded walking back into the gym for the rest of my belongings. He clearly wasn't at all ashamed of his behavior, as he continued to be as helpful as possible, and every time I said "thank you" he responded with "my pleasure," all with a greasy little smile.

Obviously, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

via Giphy
Despite my dramatics, I actually walked away from it all with my head held high and a smug little smile on my face as I thought to myself, "Kate, ya still got it!"

And that's the end of that story.

I hope everyone else is getting to have some spring-like weather and gearing up for the weekend! I am not looking forward to working Saturday AND Sunday, but I am looking forward to a Noah Gundersen concert with my friend Mary Saturday night, and a day off from work on Monday.

What are your fun, exciting plans?

All Love,

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winter, I'm Over It

There I was, at 9:30pm last night, trying to decide what to blog about for today. Inspiration was proving to be exceedingly difficult, as Millie was being super cute playing with a tennis ball, and I was trying to watch Frozen at the same time.

Speaking of Frozen, I can't watch this movie without comparing it to this:

Anyway, after a quick scroll through Twitter, I saw that Helene and Taylor were doing a post dedicated to why we can't wait for summer, and BINGO! There was my inspiration.

Helene In Between

Let me tell you why I can't wait for summer, ESPECIALLY after dealing with another 8 inches of snow on Monday:

- Because I want to be able to walk Millie by just throwing on a pair of shoes, not taking two minutes to suit up in my cold weather gear.

- Because it's hard to keep my balance in the snow when Millie decides to go investigate a person/dog/tennis ball/flicker of movement.

- Because I can't afford to keep Lollia in business any longer, as I go through tube after tube of their magical hand lotion.

- Because the cold weather makes me want to eat and drink all the things, and I just can't afford to buy a whole new  wardrobe one (or two) sizes up.

- Because I think my skin might be having a weird reaction from overuse of my car's heated seats.

- Because my sturdy, practical snow boots aren't at all fashionable and aren't the most comfortable to wear every single day of the week.

- Because I really need my electricity bill to be lower.

- Because I'm not sure if the feeling of warm sunshine on my skin will every be anything more than a distant memory.
Please summer, come back to me!
- Because I think if I see one more snowfall I will have a nervous breakdown.

So maybe I am being a little bit dramatic here, but I really and truly miss summer. I miss the warm weather, the long days, the smell of fresh-cut grass, and that carefree feeling that never seems to go away, even when I'm working 80 hour weeks. Can we just make that happen right now, please?

What do you miss the most about summer?  Or are you totally crazy and winter is your favorite season?

All Love,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Project Gryffindor: Irish Soda Bread

Happy National Hangover Day! I strangely feel a sense of Deja Vu, as if I've said that before--apparently, I just like to make up my own national holidays. Other than a mimosa at breakfast yesterday, I really didn't do anything for St. Patrick's Day. It was a snow day, and Matt is out of town for work, so Millie and I hung out and did a whole lot of nothing, and it was glorious.

Actually, I did a lot of nothing, and Millie searched desperately for a tennis ball she knew was buried in the snow.
You know we are long overdue for a Project Gryffindor post, and quite frankly, I should have posted this recipe before St. Patrick's Day. Last week was so crazy, it just never crossed my mind, so you have this recipe now and you can make it and be festive all week!

Now, before we get into it, I have a special announcement--if you've been loving the Project Gryffindor posts, and you love HP, then you must participate in a special, monthly Harry Potter themed link-up I am co-hosting with the Grits Blog! YAY AREN'T YOU SO HAPPY?!

The link-up will be the last Monday of each month--you can post your Harry Potter recipes, or just any old regular recipe that you think should have graced the tables of Hogwarts (like, where were all the soft tacos from Taco Bell?). We will start this month, can't wait to see what you all have dreamed up!

So that's that, and let's get this Irish party started!

Irish Soda Bread
From the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

  • 4 Cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t cream of tartar
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 T granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 T) butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease and flour (aka, spray it with Pam) a 9 in. round baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar (remember, dry ingredients mixed together first!)
  3. Rub in the butter with your fingers until it is completely mixed in (the mix will still be very floury).

  4. Stir or fold in the buttermilk and egg until a dough begins to form. 
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a round and dust the top with flour.

  6. Place the dough into the pan and score an X about 1/2 in deep on top.

  7. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake another 40 minutes until golden brown. 
  8. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
This bread is best served warm right out of the oven--we actually ate it with a Beef and Guinness stew, also from the HP cookbook (I know, I seriously slacked on getting these Irish themed recipes ready). If you've got bread leftover, it works GREAT as toast the next morning!

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the last Monday of March! Can't wait to see all of your pretty faces here for the link up. 

All Love,

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Paddy's Day Stalker

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends! This is the one day of the year when we all pretend like we have the tiniest bit of Irish blood, and we also pretend to like Guinness. For the past few years (and coincidentally, for every St. Pat's Matt and I have spent together), March 17th has been extremely low key. I typically end up having to work over the weekend, so Friday and Saturday night festivities are out of the question. And going out on a week night at this age?!? In your dreams!

You may not believe it, but I had some incredibly interesting St. Paddy's back in the day. Those stories include the time I had my first sip of smirnoff, hanging out at Shamrock Fest in the pouring rain, hanging out at Shamrock Fest another year and meeting a very nice, blind gentleman, and recruiting a friend-of-a-friend to be my fake boyfriend for the night.

I promise I was wearing green under all the rain gear.
All those stories must await another day, however, because today I'm going to tell you the St. Pat's story that takes them all--the St. Paddy's Stalker.

It was Winchester and the year was 2011. I had a new job, a new haircut, and I was finally starting to feel like I wasn't in the middle of a quarter life crisis. Naturally, I had quite the spring in my step and was ready to spend the holiday at karaoke with my friends.

The night was a huge success. Sure, I may not have given my best performance when I attempted "Damn I Wish I was Your Lover," but I totally killed it when I sang "Come on Eileen," and I walked away with two numbers that night. As things were winding down and I was attempting to corral the group to walk home (I was with two friends who were staying with us, and another coworker at that point). I was standing by my friend, trying to make sure she pulled it together and paid her tab, when I noticed a guy quite obviously checking me out. I glance in his direction one time and apparently that was all he needed.

He sauntered on over and proceeded to tell me how I was so beautiful, "like a goddess," and blah blah blah. I can't tell you how many times I tried to communicate to him that I was leaving with my friends, but yet, he persisted. In fact, he persisted so much so that he decided to follow us out the door and down the street.

Now, I know it sounds like I should have been scared, but this kid was not at all intimidating--he acted like a lost puppy, but not in a cute way. I suppose you might say all vicious stalkers seem innocent at first, but I also had two co workers with me who were much larger than he was (including one the size of a lumberjack), so I never felt unsafe, I just felt annoyed.

We all got back to my apartment and he was still there--he literally followed me home. I was too busy keeping my other friend from making a PLD with the lumberjack that I didn't even realize he was still there. He kept making excuses like "I just moved here, I don't know where I am, I don't know where my friend lives!" and "my friend was supposed to drive me and he's gone, I can't sleep in my car!"

At that point, I was tired and over his drama. He seemed to think that he might actually get somewhere with me--until I put some blankets in the living room and told my guy friend, Cameron, that he was his responsibility and to handle it. At that, my friend and I went to my room and shut the door, but not after he asked me to come tell him a story because he was scared and couldn't sleep.

Cameron apparently handled it, because he was gone the next morning, but he kept texting me saying that he "slept in his car :(" and that "wasn't like him" and he's "so embarrassed." I never responded, and the next time I saw him out at the bar I was with Matt and he was walking around looking real bitter. Here's some advice, buddro: if you want to have a chance with a girl, don't be creepy, and definitely don't follow her home.

Friends, I realize this could have ended badly, but he was definitely not a threat. There are some real creepers out there, so be careful--always make sure you've got a safe way to get home, don't accept rides or candy from strangers, and don't make eye contact unless you mean it.

Have a safe and happy St. Patrick's Day, and for the love of the Irish, would somebody please drink some green beer for me? In return, please enjoy this playlist of all the Irish (or close enough) songs I could dream up.

Party Positive,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jewelry Fest 2014

Happy Sunday evening, friends! It's snowing here, unfortunately, so here's to hoping it's either enough to cancel work tomorrow, or not enough to be concerned for the morning drive.

Anyway, you know I've got something special in store if I'm posting over the weekend--and do I ever! Today I threw a big ol' jewelry party, and guess what--you're invited too!

A few weeks ago, my friend hosted a Lia Sophia jewelry, and I signed on to host one for myself. Why wouldn't I want to hang out with all my friends, drink champagne punch, eat oreo truffles, AND get free/discounted jewelry? Clearly, it was a big, fat, DUH.

You might recall last week, on Mix it Monday, when I wore this necklace:

That beautiful piece would be the Instaglam necklace and I love it. It's gorgeous and it really pulls an outfit together. The chain (rope? strand? what would we call it here) is actually navy, but it looks navy or black, depending on your outfit. Doesn't really matter though, because it still looks awesome.

I also got this gorgeous necklace, Valencia, for $15 as a hostess bonus item! I'm head over heels for this necklace--the colors are so vibrant and it makes me think of summer, which is exactly what I need right now.

I'm also obvi wearing my favorite J.Crew Chambray shirt of all time.
In addition to necklaces, I also ordered a few pairs of earrings. The Trunk Show earrings are awesome. I actually don't have many statement earrings, and I've been looking for a good pair for a while. These were the perfect touch of glamour without being overwhelming--I can wear them for work and whatnot, so I definitely get to use them more than just for special nights out on the town.

Don't worry, stud earrings, I haven't forgotten about you! That's why I picked out the Souffle earrings as well--simple enough to wear with just about anything, but not even remotely boring like the tacky stud earrings I used to buy at Claire's back in the day.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures--my usual photographer (Matt, obvi) is on a work trip to Vegas (and he's promised he won't go see Britney without me), so I had to make do with taking selfies and checking my aim in the mirror. The struggle is real.

Millie knows what I'm talking about.
One of the best parts about Lia Sophia jewelry is that it has a lifetime warranty--I absolutely wish some other jewelry I recently brought also had that warranty, but alas, it did not, so now I'm stuck with breaking out my pliers every time I want to wear a couple of my necklaces.

The next best part is that you can join in on Jewelry Fest 2014 as well! All you have to do is visit this link,, and enter my name (Katie Thomas) as hostess. The party ship sets sail on Thursday, March 20th, so make sure you get your orders in by that time (if you can even decide, because I can tell you THAT struggle is real).

Not to mention, there are several great deals going on right now, like:
  • When you spend $80, you get the Thea necklace or Bardot bracelet for just ten buckaroos!
  • If you buy two items, you can get another at 50% off--and choose up to three additional necklaces for 50% off! And bee tee dubs, the most expensive item is the one you get for half off--none of that "of equal or lesser value" nonsense. 
Friends, I hope you will join me on Jewelry Fest 2014! Next year, I'll figure out a way for everyone to get oreo truffles, even if you can't be here in person. 

All Love,

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