Holiday Cards

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This holiday season is just a little extra special. For one, it’s the first year that J and I are actually together on Christmas day. (Neither of us wanted to give up being with our families in years past so we’d celebrate together before or after) And it’s the first year that we can start to create our own little traditions together. We came up with one for Thanksgiving that we both immediately agreed on- blackberry cobbler. It’s actually a double whammy because not only do we want to make it for every Thanksgiving, it was one of the desserts that we served at our wedding so it’ll remind us of November 5th too!

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This Christmas we’ll see what we come up with. We’ve tossed around some ideas, and have a few things planned. I know growing up we had a few traditions that I wouldn’t mind continuing, like mimosas and cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, so we’ll see what the verdict is! One of things that I’m definitely going to continue is sending Holiday cards to all our loved ones. This year my sister told me about Paper Culture before I made my decision and I’m so glad she did! For every order Paper Culture plants a tree! The designs are modern, fun, and you have tons to choose between. And unlike a lot of places, there isn’t a large difference in foil printing vs. matte colors. My order arrived in time for us to address and send out our holiday cheer!

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S’More Holiday Cheer

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Tis the season for lots of yummy treats. From cheesy appetizers to frosted cookies and pies, it’s hard to resist! I have two holiday get-togethers this weekend that came with the request for us to bring some sort of dessert. Immediately I knew I wanted to make these fun little S’More Bites for one of the parties. And I was so relieved that I wasn’t going to be spending countless hours trolling Pinterest. (It gets overwhelming!) These S’more Bites are super easy to prep, quick to cook, and always a crowd pleaser! Plus they’re a great little pop-in-your-mouth-between-laughs kind of dessert. No fork, spoon, or campfire needed for these s’mores!

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Yield: 24+ cups  |  Prep Time: maybe 20 minutes  |  Cook Time: 7 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs (finely chopped)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 chocolate bars, divided*
12 large marshmallows

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix together graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and melted butter in a bowl. Spoon crumb mixture into each cup or cupcake liner. Press crumbs to form bottom layer. Bake 4-5 minutes, or until edges are bubbling. While graham cracker base is baking, break your chocolate bars into rectangles and depending on the size of your cupcake pan, cut in half. Remove pan from oven; place one piece of chocolate into each cup.
Cut marshmallows in half and place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven for an additional 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows look fluffy. Cool for about 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

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*I mixed up my chocolate bar choices this year. Instead of milk chocolate, I used a dark chocolate bar and a Symphony bar with almonds and toffee chips in it. You’re welcome to be traditional or adventurous, it’ll be delicious whatever your choice! (Also, you can drizzle chocolate over the marshmallow if you want extra chocolate!!)

And for all of you bakers out there William-Sonoma just kicked off their Friends & Family sale! (code: FRIENDS) Get up to 20% off cookware and tools to help make your holiday cooking and baking just a tad bit easier! And for those of you who don’t like baking, lucky for you too! All Holiday candy at William-Sonoma is 25% off! I am definitely swinging by to pick up these adorable gingerbread men to hang on mugs and these to stir my spiked eggnog! Can’t resist!

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D.C. Winter Wishlist

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Winter is here. Snow is in this week’s forecast. I’m definitely a Fall and Summer lover… to me, winter is too long and spring too rainy, so do I resent it or just embrace it!? In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m thinking finding all the good in winter – like the joy when I see the boxwood wreath on my front door welcoming me home, and the pine scented candle that I burn every chance I get. And since we’re living in the Capitol Hill I’ve curated a list of things for J and I to do this season…

  1. Take a walk to the Capitol to view the Christmas Tree (which was lit Dec. 6) and then over to Union Station to view the 30 foot tree donated by the Embassy of Norway
  2. Finally make it to Shaw’s Christmas Bar for some festive libations this year regardless of how long the line may be
  3. We’ve actually crossed this off our list so I’m suggesting it to you all since it’s adorable – make the trek out to Lucketts and visit The Old Luckett’s Store. It’s about an hour outside of the city, but will put you in the holiday spirit faster than Santa can scarf down a cookie!
  4. Send out our first holiday card as Mr. & Mrs. – Paper Culture plants a tree with every order!
  5. Whip up a round of this yummy looking Campfire Cocktail treat (picture above)
  6. Make my favorite meal from France, beef bourguignon
  7. Finish reading Blood Defense by Marcia Clark
  8. Start reading Harry Potter & The Cursed Child
  9. Attend some holiday gatherings with these fresh baked cookies in hand
  10. Spend an entire Sunday in my PJs

 

Some Favorite Pajamas:

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Italia

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We spent our honeymoon in Italy exploring Rome, Ortigia, and Catania. It wasn’t the honeymoon I envisioned as a little girl sipping frozen drinks out of coconuts, but I am so happy that we decided to spend our two week post-wedding in Italy then on a rainy beach in November. The history, food, and sights were all breathtakingly beautiful and it truly was a trip that we’ll cherish and remember forever, not only because it was our first trip as Mr. & Mrs.

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Favorite Restaurants: 

La Vecchia locanda – Rome, Italy

Tucked away on an alley off of an alley, we quickly knew our first dinner in Rome was going to be a favorite dinner of the trip. A small, two level family owned restaurant made you feel like you were apart of their family. The server was there when you needed something, never pushy, and definitely didn’t disappoint in his recommendations. We had the freshest mozzarella I have ever tasted, gnocchi, Gorgonzola ravioli, and more. Great selection of wines and their chocolate mint mousse was a great way to end the night.

Jerry Thomas Speakeasy – Rome, Italy

J and I love finding cocktail clubs in the places we travel. One of our favorite memories from our trip to Paris was a speakeasy, so I knew that was going to be something we had to do in Italy! Rome made it a little bit more difficult to find a speakeasy but we are so glad that we found Jerry Thomas. Off a back alley, not marked, and password protected (you can find the password on their website) we sipped 3 delicious cocktails (each!) ranging from traditional to Jerry Thomas originals.

Felice a Testaccio – Rome, Italy

This restaurant was recommended to us and we are so glad that it was. According to locals, as trends have come through Felice a Testaccio has remained steady in cooking traditional Italian cuisine not worrying about decor or modernizing but creating delicious meals. Since it had this “traditional” reputation we had Rome’s famous Pepe e Cacio here. So. Good. (And I’m 99.9% sure the meatballs were the best I have ever had.)

Macalle – Ortigia, Sicily, Italy

Our Ortigia hotel recommended Macalle for our first night in Sicily. A husband and wife team, Macalle is a contemporary bistrot cooking with authentic sicilian ingredients and recipes. The owner even said that many of his recipes were his grandmother’s. The food was delicious and the plating I give an A+ – really beautiful looking and tasting meals. (And you have to finish off with their house made limoncello!)

Le Vin de l’Assassin Bistrot – Ortigia, Sicily, Italy

We went here on our last night in Ortigia. We were sad to leave this charming little island so we decided on a place that we had passed many times on our stroll. A small, one room Sicilian-French bistrot with smells that drew us in immediately. The chef/owner studied culinary in Paris and moved back to his home fusing the Sicilian ingredients with French techniques and flavors. This was maybe the best steak I have ever had. There was a pepper sauce that had peppercorns that just exploded flavor in your mouth. I will go back to Ortigia one day, and this restaurant is at the top of my list to revisit.

Il Sale Art Cafe – Catania, Sicily, Italy

Pizzeria and Restaurant, J and I agreed that this was the best pizza we had our whole trip! The ingredients at this particular restaurant tasted so fresh and like many of the other restaurants I’ve favorited, the plating was beautifully done. This restaurant is tucked off an alley so don’t miss it!

Fud Off – Catania, Sicily, Italy

We only stayed for a couple of cocktails (we were so stuffed from Il Sale Art Cafe) but if we ever make it back to Catania this would be a stop. Just steps down from Il Sale Art Cafe we stumbled upon a very plain, almost cave like linear room with a neon sign that read “OFF.” There were tables for folks to gather, sip and enjoy themselves and everyone there was definitely enjoying themselves!

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Where We Stayed:

Hotel Artimede – Rome, Italy

Located right on the historic center of Rome, in Via Nazionale, one of the oldest and most vibrant streets of Rome and right next to a delicious gelateria that’s open pretty late! The hotel was recently renovated and the details are wonderful. The rooms are a good size, and modern, and the staff were great at remembering and accommodating our requests!

Algila Ortigia Charme Hotel – Ortigia, Sicily, Italy

My favorite hotel of all the places we stayed. It was so charming, looked authentic, and each room was decorated a little bit different. It’s also located right on the water so the views are stunning and just steps from everything – Ortigia is small, so everything is walkable!

Liberty Hotel – Catania, Sicily, Italy

Full disclosure: Catania was not my favorite stop of the trip. I wish that we would have found a hotel closer to the main drag, but Liberty Hotel’s staff were very helpful and were accommodating.

QC Terme Roma – Rome, Italy

Since we flew back into Rome for just one night we wanted to find a hotel that wasn’t too far from the airport and was relaxing. QC Terme Roma is a former bathhouse in a protected Roman archaeological site, the Oasis of Porto. We started off our stay by changing into their dress code- Robes and slippers – and made our way to happy hour outside near a heated pool with beautiful marble fountains. We then made our way down for a massage and ended our night walking through the underground Roman baths where there were saunas, Turkish baths, and more.

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Highlight of the Trip:

Castelli Romani – The Old Frascati Wine Tour

Just a quick train ride outside of Rome took you to a whole other world. Olive trees and grape vines adorned the rolling hills overlooking Rome. Dominique and Paola took us around the vineyard and into the caves under Paola’s family’s farmhouse. I kid you not, the views are out of a movie. And the amount of history that we learned and witnessed while on this small group tour was astonishing. Since their families have been on the vineyard for generations and generations we heard stories from times of war and even got to hold a lead pipe from the Ancient Roman times, 2000 years ago! We left full of wine and pasta but mostly full of awe for this little town.

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Photography by Roberta via Flytographer 

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And we’re back…

So funny story. Wedding planning pretty much took over my life. I was doing pretty good there for awhile but then it went in high gear. There’s no other way of explaining it, and when I did have a little break from planning, I finally got around to updating and renewing my domain via my host site. So here’s where the not so funny part comes in… in the process of renewing this lil ol blog of mine I completely lost ALL of my blog. Every. Single. Post. that I have ever written. Just gone. Shame on me for not back it up, but also what the heck GoDaddy! Ugh. Wasn’t so funny at the time, but I had too much going on to do anything about it. (Mind you this was also right around the time where we found out our wedding venue was not going to be built so it was venue search take 2, we had to re-ordering wedding invites because of the venue switch, and the list went on.)  So in between huffs and eye rolls (and maybe a few panic tears) I let my blog go on the back burner. Actually, more like the neighbor’s back burner because I just couldn’t tackle it. Fast forward to today. The wedding is over, the planning is done, and I have the wedding blues. I am dying to have something (other then my full-time job) to do so I’m going to look at this positively- new last name, new blog, new content for the almost new year.

So here we are the first day of December. A full 25 days until the coziest holiday of them all!
I thought I’d start off by linking some fun little stocking stuffers for Him & Her!

For Her…

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For Him…

Stocking Stuffer Men
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