Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Poised on the precipice of a new year


I love turning the calendar over to a new year. I think of it as a fresh start: a clean slate I can mark up as I choose, a story that I'm excited to write. There are few things that rev me up as much as possibility and I associate the dawn of a new year with an abundance of possibility.
As individuals and as a couple 2013 was a difficult year for us, one that required a lot of growth and change. I've been writing this blog since August 2011 and I still wrestle with being authentic and real in this space while keeping what should be private private. Having a blog does not mean being an open book, and people should not expect that that's what it means. *I* should not expect that that's what it means. Vulnerability is not a comfortable coat to wear, and what I write here always opens me up to scrutiny and sometimes pushes me out of my comfort zone. It challenges me and I like that but sometimes it also makes me shrink back, reluctant to share. Thank you for knowing you aren't seeing everything behind the curtain and reading anyway.
We are each on our own journey in this life, and I'm really glad I get to share pieces of mine with you, and hear pieces of yours through our interactions. I love your comments here, conversing with you on facebook, and talking about something you liked (or didn't) on here in person. Thank you for another year of being on the other side of the screen.
What's ahead? I feel at peace in my heart approaching 2014. I'm kicking it up a notch at work and I'm on the verge of offering sponsorship and advertising on this blog. Things are humming along for me, and MFD is in a great place as well and is looking forward to working at a new brokerage office with a lot of great opportunities ahead for him career-wise. We're anticipating an awesome 2014.

I don't make resolutions. I'm much better keeping myself accountable with seasonal goals (you can see my winter goals here). However, I do have some intentions for 2014: acceptance, possibilities, and self-discipline. I want to be more accepting of things I can't change, more aware of all the possibilities I have, and more self-disciplined in regards to my health and wellness. Like put the fucking cookies down and back away type of self-discipline.
And, as with every year, I want to be better, kinder, stronger, braver, smarter, more aware and more fierce.
Whatever else you do today, do yourself a favor and leave your old shit behind in the vestibule as you close the door on 2013. Don't carry it with you into another year.

What about you? Do you make resolutions or set goals for the year?

I'm wishing all of my mum friends good luck tomorrow, especially MFD and the men of the Joseph A. Ferko String Band. Mummery is a great, storied, long-time Philadelphia tradition MFD has been involved in for 26 years. This is the first year in many years that I won't be having a parade party in the warmth of my own home but will instead be down on the street catching a bit of the string bands. It was originally forecasted to be a high of 28, but now it's a merciful 36. Still, I'm pretty sure I was wearing flip flops last year. Layers, be kind to me. Check back here tomorrow early for a link to watch the parade live (string bands should be on around 1:30) and see how Philly does New Year's Day.
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Monday, December 30, 2013

TWTW - last in 2013 version

I love days off. Friday was my fourth day off in a row. There was much rejoicing throughout the land. 
1. MFD and I met my brother and Aub for a 9:30 viewing of The Wolf of Wall Street. I love Leo, Jonah Hill was awesome, and the movie was good but 45 minutes too long.
2. After the movie, much lounging and reading ensued.
3. Chinese delivery for dinner. 
4. DVR catch up, SNL Jimmy/JT On Demand, and Promised Land. It was good, but I know personally of the good impact natural gas can have on a community, so I think it was a little one sided. 
Hausfrauing like a boss and a nice run in the fields for the dogs followed by a framily dinner. 
We had salad and I made two types of mac & cheese: my regular recipe with ham, and then a brie and bacon mac and cheese that was fabulous. I will be posting both recipes soon. The roux picked up bacon bits and it was very good. Dessert was please eat whatever sugary goods I have left in my house. Am I the only person who craves salad after Christmas is over? It's like my body is riding a cookie train and wants to jump off. 
I headed to my Mom's at 10:30 for brunch with my second family, the Mondellis. I ate and drank all the things. 
MFD met me there and we went on to visit his Gram and nieces since we didn't see them on Christmas. It was a full day and we got home after 6 and got right into pajamas. 

Today? I'm off and hoping not to leave the house. Utility closet, I've got my eye on you. Mama's got the urge to purge and organize. 

How was your weekend?

Please go check out Vodka and Soda and wish one of my favorite and most hilarious blog friends a very happy birthday. 
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Friday, December 27, 2013

Hot apps! Get your hot apps here!

Yes, we've eaten a lot, haven't we? At this point I should be eating lettuce for eternity, but I'm not there just yet. I am off of the big meal right now though and digging apps only, which my mom had on Thursday night at her house. Here's what I brought with me, both are super easy:

Ingredients
2 - 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 cup mayo
1.5 white sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp each of ground mustard, garlic salt, and salt
8-10 oz chopped jalapeno peppers (I buy the 12 oz jar and use 8 oz or 10 oz depending on how much heat I want. NOTE do not chop those bitches and touch anything near your face or eyes)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Directions
Allow cream cheese to soften on the counter. When soft, mix cream cheese, mayo, one cup of cheddar, 1 cup of parmesan, jalapenos, and spices in a bowl.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour mixture into a baking dish. Top with another 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.

Mix the panko bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of parmesan in a small bowl and sprinkle over the dip.

Bake in a preheated 350 oven until the sides are bubbling and the cheese cheese has melted and turned golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips. Original recipe from Closet Cooking
Ingredients 
a big wedge or wheel of brie
Phyllo shells - at least two boxes of 15
jam of your choice

Directions
Cut brie into small pieces and put in phyllo shells. If you are travelling, put them right back into the boxes and assemble the rest at your destination.

Put a dab of your jam on top of each. Bake on a baking sheet out of the packaging in a 350 oven for six or seven minutes, until the cheese is melty. 

Boom. Two hot apps. Got any gatherings coming up?

Happy Friday! Although when you're off for nine days they all start to run together. We're headed out to see The Wolf of Wall Street this morning because we are 1. old and don't like crowds 2. cheap and don't want to pay $748 for a movie ticket at night.

Whatever you're doing, enjoy! And don't forget to consider joining me for a January Spending Freeze. All the cool kids are doing it. The Christmas-poor kids are doing it too.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas: It's a Wrap. Do you see what I did there?

Hidey ho neighbors. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Here's a bit of what I got into...
Christmas Eve kicks off with one of my favorite traditions - sharing cheer at Sandy's. My Dad and his friends started it, and now my friends go, Stephen's friends, friends' parents and inlaws. It's a very festive affair. Framily...it's what it's all really all about.
After that we jet over to my aunt and uncle's house for apps, my mom in her Santa gear, inappropriate conversations, lots of laughs, and A Christmas Story.
MFD and I leave both the living room and bedroom TVs on all night so we go to sleep and wake up and walk downstairs to A Christmas Story.
1. Mae wants ALL the toys. 
2. Geege always noses all the gifts around looking for the dog gifts. 
3. Gus is a Grinch who wants no parts of the magic of Christmas. 
1. We left our house at 9:30, stopping first to see MFD's parents
2. Then on to my Dad & Carol's
3. Then to my Mom & Rich's
We had dinner at Frank & Amanda's. I ate so much turkey I couldn't even have dessert. Unheard of! The Sannellis put out an excellent meal. I was in bed by 10. It was a long but fabulous day.
Thursday MFD worked but I was a lady who lunches with Michelle. I thought for sure I couldn't fit any more food in but I had a great guacamole salad and cheese enchilada at my beloved Las Margaritas. OLE.
Mom & Rich had an open house with apps and desserts. See my brother Stephen in the bottom right always like why is she taking pictures and my brother Sean next to him grinning like a fool.

I'm never one who's sad that Christmas is over. I've celebrated throughout December, I'm good with it. I'm thankful for the generosity and thoughtfulness of our loved ones, the unconditional love of my dogs who think every day in this house is Christmas, and being with our framily. The time spent together is priceless.

I'm always excited by the prospect of the calendar turning and what the next year might hold. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family!

xoxo
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air

Christmas tomorrow!
Mostly nice? Santa will come.
Ho ho ho mofos!
(Haikuesday Christmas Style)

Check out my favorite non-Christmas Christmas tune, Fairytale of New York by The Pogues covered here by Iron & Wine and Calexico. A friend of ours from high school is in the band and this cover is just 
gorgeous.

Enjoy these days with your framily. I'll see you back here Friday for a Christmas rundown.
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Monday, December 23, 2013

TWTW - Last one before Santa busts in

HO HO HO MOFOS. Friday night was my work Christmas party. It was fun, festive, and full of beer. 
Saturday was much hausfrauing and making brownie batter dip and mini cheesecakes. 
The Mellor Christmas dinner at Dad & Carol's was an Italian feast with apps from the Italian Market, sausage, lobster ravioli in vodka sauce, and Carol made lasagna with fresh pasta and ricotta. Amazing! I was full all night. I only like fresh ricotta. I don't care for the ones you can buy in the dairy case. 
We had our nephews and Lori overnight on Saturday, and Lori and I hit DD, Target and PetSmart early. Then we went to Red Robin for lunch with my Mom, brothers, Aubrey and Nicole and it was glorious.
Guess what I found out? All seasons of Felicity are On Demand. So I did that and wrapped all the gifts. 

All of those things 
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Last day of work until January 2. Let's do this.

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Linking up for Monday Morning Gossip with Join the Gossip and Monday Chatter with The Adventures of the Pidala Family Five. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Brownie Batter Dip - it's as good as it sounds


You guys, this is holy shit good. Must-make good. The next time you need to bring a dessert, I suggest you bring this. It's super easy, you probably have all the ingredients in your house, and it's very very delicious. I saw the recipe on Chef in Training.

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
5 TBS All Purpose Flour
5 TBS Cocoa
2 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 TBS milk

Directions
Allow cream cheese and butter to come to room temp, then cream together with a hand mixer until well mixed. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 TBS milk and mix again. Add another cup of powdered sugar and another TBS of milk and mix again. 

Add the flour, cocoa powder, vanilla, and brown sugar. Do a taste test. At this point I added another quarter cup of powdered sugar and 2 TBS of milk as well as another teaspoon of cocoa powder. Taste test for your taste. Mix well and store in the fridge. 

I served it with strawberries, pineapple, and pretzel crisps. The strawberries were by far the most popular. 
Enjoy!

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Why You Should Join The January Spending Freeze


via
If you've been around for a while, you might remember my report on my last no spend January (My Dirty Book of Shame - Spending Freeze Diary Violations and Realizations), my March spending freeze (Spending Freeze Book of Sin - I Veruca'd Myself), or my No Spend September (Sinful Admissions of a No Spend September).

The goal of each of those spending freezes was to not spend money on anything that wasn't in the budget. The resulting posts were my victories, slip ups, and thoughts on each spending freeze.

I'm doing it again in January and making it a linkup that I'm co-hosting with MJ at Luck Fupus, Erin at Love, Fun & Football, and KP at Clueless with Cash. You should join us!
Why I think you should join the January Spending Freeze
1. Most people hemorrhage money in December. A spending freeze in January is refreshing. It will allow your bank account some recovery time and jump start any financial goals you've made for 2014, whether it's paying down debt, putting more money into savings, paying for a vacation in advance, or all of the above.
2. It's a challenge, and it's good to challenge yourself.
3. It will make you really think about what you're spending and where. In the future, if money is tight, you will know what you can cut out immediately.
4. It will make you think about why you're spending. Emotional spending is as real as emotional eating and neither are healthy.
5. It will show you where your money is going and allow you to reevaluate how you spend when it's over.
6. Honestly, most of us have enough and can go a month without buying something or spending extra on what we don't need.

The Rules
1. Spending freeze lasts from January 1 - January 31.
2. No outings that are not budgeted for prior to 1/1 - no impromptu lunches, dinners, or nights out. Example: I have a Coach Bingo on 1/11, an outing on 1/18, and a dinner on 1/25. They are all in the budget and okay to spend money on (but I must stay within the amount that's been budgeted).
3. No purchases that are not budgeted for prior to 1/1 - no daily coffee runs, shiny baubles at Target, books, etc.

You can amend the rules as you see fit - if you MUST be able to purchase one coffee a week, build that into your rules. That one DD coffee is important to me, so I can buy ONE per week. I learned that after I totally screwed myself in the first freeze. If you are going balls to the wall and trying to spend $0 outside of bills and transportation, gird your loins and get ready to buckle down!

Whatever you lay out for yourself, be realistic with your goals for this month. Make changes to your spending habits for the next month that can work for you so you don't hate me and yourself by January 6.

Once you set your rules, live by them. Write down any expenditures that aren't in your budget, grab the button below and report in on your experience on Tuesday, February 4. Bloggers, link up your posts. Non-bloggers, prepare to share your list of spending freeze reflections in the comments here or on Facebook or twitter.

Life According to Steph

What do you say? Are you in? Let's start the revolution.
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Linking up with Joy as always, even when I have more than five.











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