Friday, April 27, 2012

Dear Hand-Me-Down Dresser Gods

Dear Hand-Me-Down Dresser Gods,

I am searching for a lovingly-cared-for-but-no-longer-wanted dresser for our guest bedroom. I would love to have it in time for my parent's visit in mid-May so that I can progress in "finishing" our guest bedroom. See, it just looks so bare without some kind of a dresser to store linens, travel products, and other knick-knacks.


Said dresser would look fabulous with an equally wonderful mirror above it and those lovely aqua-spray-painted thrift-store sconces on either side of it, adorned with crisp white candles.


I am looking for something like these that I can "upcycle" with a nice coat of paint and some new hardware.

Can you please request that the DC area Craigslist, Goodwill, and other area thrift stores that I frequent make some available for me to purchase? Preferably in the $40-80 dollar range, with working drawers, solid construction, and maybe some detail work?

Also, I would love love to happen upon some kind of entry-way table, like these . . .

. . . and a metal bar cart, like this (since my lovely sister nabbed our grandma's!).

Sincerely, your project-starved patrons,

Kristin (and Chris)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy (late) Administrative Professionals' Day!

Happy (late) Administrative Professional's Day to all of my fellow admins out there! I know, I'm a day late in posting about a "hallmark" holiday, but, for all of those admins out there whose bosses, like mine, don't even seem to know that such a day exists, being a day late isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, right?

I know that all of my non-admin readers are probably wondering why I am writing a post like this, and I'll tell you that it's for two reasons:

First, If you're an admin out there, you get it. I believe, and I bet my fellow admins out there will vouch for me in saying this, that we spend a majority of our time, anywhere from 50-90% of it, playing babysitter to the most spoiled and idiotic offices/bosses. We also waste about that much time doing menial tasks that a monkey could perform. Why college degrees are required for these positions (and a graduate degree in my case), I have no idea.

Not an admin and have no idea what I'm talking about? I'll give you some examples from my own personal archive of experiences . . . I was once told that I put the mail routing-post-it on the wrong part of the magazine cover (because that's apparently very important). I probably gave my boss my cell phone number 100 times, and yet I was still asked for it (because it can't be programmed into their own cell phone?). Lastly, a boss once came into my office and asked for me to turn down the temperature on the A/C unit in their window because they couldn't figure it out (it's the "down" button, in case you were unsure).

Anyhow, being an admin is sometimes a really crummy and under-appreciated job. Now, don't get me wrong, I have had some fantastic employers, ones that gave me, a part-time worker, thoughtful going-away parties and even great bonuses (I still wonder why I left sometimes). But, there are always some crummy days where you truly wonder if a monkey could be hired to do your job and you question the intelligence of all of your co-workers and bosses, especially if they have PhDs.

That's why I bask in the wonderfulness Administrative Professionals' Day, even if the office I'm working for doesn't recognize it. I don't care that it's a "hallmark" holiday because it's a holiday that (is supposed to) recognize the hard and tedious work of a very intelligent group of people that makes others' lives easier, even if it's just turning down the A/C. Only admins truly know what kind of mess our offices and bosses would be in without us, am I right?

So, if you aren't an admin, give yours a cupcake or something, or just take it easy on them for a day. If you are an admin, treat yo' self like I did last night (15% off dinner and dessert? Yes, please!).

Treat yo'self! (follow me on Instagram)

Also, the other reason I am writing this post is to let you all know (if you don't already) that this Admin Day will most likely be last (until the unforeseeable future). I will be leaving my current job in two weeks to start teaching!! I'll be teaching a reading program this summer and I'm definitely looking forward to the experiences I will gain from this next chapter in my life. Hopefully it will help me in finding a full-time teaching position next school year! (Which, if you remember, is one of my 2012 goals!) Don't worry either, I'm not missing out on a hallmark holiday, there's a Teacher Appreciation Day!

I'll never forget my admin-days though, trust me. So, to all of the admins that I will work with in the future, expect an awesome treat from me on that day, and I promise not to ask you to do stupid tasks : )

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I feel like "mini" food is all the rage right now. Or, at least that's what Pinterest seems to be telling me with the mini-mac & cheese, itty bitty cinnamon rolls, mini cannoli pastry cups, and these scrumptious looking bacon cheeseburger bon bons, mmmm. Seriously, they look delicious.

Anyway, I decided to try out one of these mini recipes after Chris brought home a bag of apples. A whole bag of apples. I love apples, but a whole bag seemed like a lot of apples to eat. I decided that the only way to eat them before they started to spoil was to make a dessert, mini apple pies from Pinterest, of course, to be exact. (I mean, eating a dessert makes more sense than actually eating all of the apples, right? Right.)

The mini-apple pies tasted like a regular apple pie. They weren't anything fantastic, but a regular apple pie is still super yummy! Plus, these mini pies were fun and easy to make and I can imagine that these can be completely customized depending on your apple-pie desires. I know I will be making them again, so without further adieu, here's the recipe . . .

Mini Apple Pies (via Little Bit Funky):

Let me preface this by saying that the original recipe made 24 pies. I only made 8. The recipe below is for the 24 pies because I figured that if you wanted to many this yummy mini dessert I would let you decide how many pies you wanted to make and change the measurements yourself! (Plus, I hate doing math, especially measurement math!)

  • 8 cups of apples - peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2in. bits.
  • 12 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (depending on how much you like really)
  • 4 tablespoons of chilled butter cut into 24 equal portions
  • two boxes of Pillsbury pie crusts (four chilled NOT frozen crusts)
  1. Peel, core, and cut up the apples. I used my food processor for this part because I hate chopping up stuff and, I'm lazy, what can I say?
  2. Mix the chopped apples with the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Make sure the apples are well coated!
  3. Unroll the pie crusts and cut several circles out. Continue this until you have enough crusts. The original recipe says that she found that a wide mouth mason jar ring worked perfectly, but I preferred to use a Shakespeare's cup!
  4. Spray a muffin pan with some kind of non-stick cooking oil. Then, line each cup of the muffin holes with the cut-out pie crusts. The original recipe mentioned that pinching the edge of the dough around the top edge of the tin and making a hammock of sorts worked really well. 
  5. Then gently fill the crusts with your apple mixture and push the crusts down the rest of the way. You should be able to fill them until they are slightly mounded. 
  6. Put a dab of your equally-portioned pieces of butter on each mound.
  7. Cover as desired with the leftover dough bits. I even cut little slits in the top to mimic a real pie!
  8. Brush with melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes. (I went about 25 minutes).
Voila! You have the perfect mini All-American pie!

Just a few randoms thoughts/tips too - First, I wish I had had some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to go with it. Yummy! Also, if you want to reheat them later, 20-30 seconds in the microwave seemed to do the trick to warm them back up to that gooey-apple-pie goodness! Enjoy!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Camping, Hiking, and History

Here's the deal, Chris and I love to go camping and hiking, but so do a lot of other people. We've had bad luck in the past where we'd driven all the way out to a park, only to find out that there were no more campsites available. Boo. So, this past weekend I was lucky enough to have a couple of days off work, Chris wanted to get away from the grind of homework, and there was no rain in the forecast, so we headed out to Shenandoah National Park, which is a couple of hours outside of DC in Virginia, to try to camp for a night and get some hiking in. And, as you can probably guess since I am writing about it, we were successful! Not only did we get to camp under a full moon, but we got in almost 17 miles of hiking. It was great to get outside, work our bodies, and get away from life for a day. A good hike and some outdoors is always rejuvenating for us!

We got to Shenandoah a little later than we had wanted, but after we quickly get our campsite set-up we hit the trails. We actually decided to repeat a hike we had tried to do a few years ago, but the pouring rain made us turn around early. The first leg of the hike was to Rapidan Camp, or Camp Hoover. But, before I get off track talking about that, here are some photos of that hike . . .

One of the first things we noticed was all of the greenery popping up throughout the park. The greens were just stunning, including these strange ferns . . .


Seriously, does someone know what these are?


We also came across a TON of deer. Seriously, a lot of deer. I probably saw more deer in those 24 hours than I have in my whole life. We came across a little herd of deer in the middle of our hike, they were all just chilling, eating some stuff. You know, doing deer things.


We saw a pretty waterfall . . .


. . . and the Blue Ridge Mountains. (Chris said they looked like a painting, and they did.)


And, I couldn't resist capturing the setting sun.


Lastly, our hike ended with a couple of miles along the Appalachian Trail which looked so serene and pretty with the grass sprouting up along the edges.


Now, as I mentioned, our hike took us to Rapidan Camp, otherwise known as Camp Hoover. Before Camp David, U.S. Presidents had other retreat locations, and President Herbert Hoover had Camp Rapidan (you can also read about it here at a NPS travel site). President Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, desired a close retreat and settled on the 164 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the headwaters of the Rapidan River less than 3 weeks after his Inauguration. To reduce the Presidential budget, Hoover decommissioned the Presidential Yacht Mayflower (yes, there was once a Presidential Yacht!) and transferred its mess crew mess crew and supplies to the new camp. The camp consisted of a lodge, mess halls, cabins, an outdoor fireplace, hiking trails, trout pools, and even a mini golf course! Hoover hosted many distinguished guests while on retreat there, such as Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, and the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald (there is even a cabin for the Prime Minister at the camp).

When Hoover lost his bid for re-election in 1932, he donated the camp to the Federal government for future Presidents' use. Unfortunately, only Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter visited the camp. The camp also served the Boy Scouts and other high-ranking government officials, the last one being Vice President Al Gore, before being renovated to its original condition and opening it for public access.

Ok, so now that I got that brief history lesson out of the way, here's some photos! First, the big outdoor fireplace that often served as the backdrop for many group photos.


The Brown House (in contrast to the White House, get it?!) where President Hoover and his wife stayed.

Another pic of the Brown House and its view of the mountain peak.


The Brown House is usually open for ranger-led tours (which we took last time we visited the Camp Rapidan site), but it was closed by the time we got there that afternoon. We learned last time though, and it still fascinates me, that the walls in between the windows could fold down only leaving a screened wall in its place. President Hoover and his wife chose this design so that the cabin felt more tent-like, reminiscent of the time they spent in mining camps.


And lastly, us!

We had an amazing day for hiking and camping, and soaking up some history along with it. The next day, we hiked Old Rag Mountain, a Shenandoah favorite for us which I blogged about last year, before heading home, back to life in DC. I'm so glad we got a couple of days to escape, enjoy some fresh air, get our exercise on, and explore some local history! If any of you want to go out there, you know I'd be on board!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Favorite Breakfast Food: French Toast Bake

Last week I mentioned that not only do I love brunch, but Chris' family was coming in town for the weekend. Now, Chris and I don't make that fancy of meals for ourselves, since it's just the two of us, but when people come in town to visit we think it's nice to prepare a nice dinner or breakfast for them. But, let's face it, I can't really cook, so Chris usually cooks for them. My cooking repertoire consists of pigs in a blanket and other apps, grilled cheese, mashed potatoes, and, yes, breakfast food. I can definitely fry a mean piece of bacon (because what's breakfast without bacon!) and flip the fluffiest pancakes like the best of them, or, at least better than Chris. I can also bake much better than Chris. But, back to how I can cook a scrumptious breakfast . . .

For Chris' family's visit, I decided to try out a new breakfast recipe, because, well, I love breakfast, this recipe looked yummy, and, like I just explained, breakfast food is pretty much all I can cook . . . So, I made French Toast Bake, and, of course, I found the recipe on Pinterest . . .

And, let me just preface the recipe by letting you know that it was a hit!! Everyone liked it, even Chris who thought the picture of it below made it look gross. Not only was it fairly easy to put together, but it was also inexpensive (all I needed to do was buy the texas toast) and I made it the night before so all I needed to do was pop it in the oven that morning!

Here's the recipe for French Toast Bake (via Rach's Blog):

 Photo from Rach's Blog, Pinned by Kristin

  • 1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 loaf Texas toast
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling, and syrup, as needed!

  1. Melt the 1/2 cup of butter in the microwave and then add the brown sugar. Stir until mixed.
  2. Pour the butter/brown sugar mix into the bottom of a 9x13 pan and spread it around so it's even.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Lay a single layer of Texas Toast on the bottom of the pan. (I kept the crust on the Texas Toast, which I liked, but Chris said he would have preferred to have cut off the crust.)
  5. Spoon egg/milk/vanilla mixture on top of that layer of bread. (The original recipe says to use 1/2 the mixture, but I probably only used about 1/3 because I didn't want it to end up too mushy. I just made sure the mix covered and soaked into the bread a little.)
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon,a s desired. (I also added pecans to half of it, and we all agreed that it might be good with sliced bananas or strawberries).
  7. Add another layer of Texas Toast.
  8. Spoon on more of the egg/milk/vanilla mixture. (Again, the recipe says to use the remaining mix, but I only used about another 1/3 of it. I made sure it soaked into the bread and I also spooned it into the cracks between the slices of bread. Yes, I dumped the remaining mix, sorry!)
  9. Cover and let it chill in the fridge overnight.
  10. In the morning, or whenever, bake it at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, syrup, etc. and Enjoy!!

I thought it was scrumptious!! The top slice of bread was a little crispy and the bottom slice of bread was still gooey = heaven in my mouth. Chris said it was like a french toast sandwich (and I think that's a good thing)! Hope you decide to make it as well, and if you do, let me know what you thought and if you made any changes too!

Also, I'm hoping I can get Chris to share his peach-glazed pork chop recipe that he made for dinner that night. It. was. awesome!
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