The other night I had the pleasure of dining at in the South Side. The idea sparked long ago but conceptualized a few days before the dinner. I found myself tiring of the routine restaurants I’ve been frequenting on the weekends and wanting something that would stick with my palette. Sometimes, I become a creature of habit (especially when I’m penny pinching). Sometimes, that creature needs to let go, and so I did.

Cafe de Jour reminds me of the Italian restaurant I worked at during college. It was set up more like a bar than a restaurant with an exposed kitchen and a few small tables. When we entered, there were about four other couples. By 8:15 p.m., those couples were gone and we were the only ones in the restaurant.

Cat’s coworker raved that their spinach artichoke dip was the best she’s ever tasted. After sampling for ourselves, we wholeheartedly agreed. The waiter giving us extra bread was a nice touch, too. We enjoyed our appetizer with a little bubbly picked up by Cat, sipping to a long week’s worth of work. I like that Cafe de Jour is BYOB with only a corking fee of $2 per person. I prefer to bring my own wine to most places if I can.

I don’t eat meat at my home, and I rarely eat out during the week so ordering a meat entree is always a treat on the weekend. I decided to go with the pork chop that was donned with a piece of bacon, wilted greens and baked polenta. Honestly, the polenta was a big selling point for getting this dish, and it did not disappoint.

Cat ordered the steak which was, of course, to die for.

Nick went with the chicken, and I especially loved the presentation of this dish.

Nothing quite like an evening out with two good friends. It’s been forever since the three of us went out fine dining. We decided that we’re going to implement a restaurant club and maybe try a new place in a new neighborhood every month or every other. I’m sure there’s a way to sample delectable food without breaking the bank, especially after the holidays. Me & my bestie:

… and my other bestie. I loved the background and the way the walls were covered. Set a really nice ambience and mood, and reminded me of why I truly love living in Pittsburgh.


Here’s to more dinners out in the ‘burgh!

In my 27 years of living, I’ve never attended an ugly sweater party. I sort of remember one happening in college, but I wasn’t wearing a sweater and just dropped by to see a friend. Come to think of it, maybe that wasn’t a party. Just some friends with ugly sweaters. Nevertheless, I attended my first ugly sweater party over the weekend, and it gave me a myriad of opportunities to pose in awkward photos with friends and loved ones.

If Cat and I were life partners, our Christmas card would look like this:

If BF and I were life partners, our Christmas card would look like this:

And if Scone and I were life partners (making me an official crazy cat lady), our Christmas card would look like this:

I’m so lucky to have options. But I’m pretty sure Scone still hates me for holding him like this. 

Our friend Kaitlyn threw a party at her apartment, and it was complete with adult food and drink. Nick and BF took some eating bacon wrapped meat with crossed arms. I mean, who wouldn’t? I love these boys.

I love this photo of Catherine + Luke. They just got engaged. I told them they should have a nerd-themed wedding, and I’m really hoping they listen to me. However, I don’t think I have that much sway. (Note my bean/cheese dip in the right hand corner. It was barely touched at first, then gone by the end of the night. I’m glad it worked out.)

Sometimes, BF is so happy  that his eyes get real squinty. Sometimes, I love that. Oh, and sometimes I love when he steals his mom’s sweater for a Christmas party.

Boys on a couch. These three are real cute, two Cosby sweaters and all. For a newbie ugly sweater party attendee, I was amazed at the spread of sweaters. Christmas themed, Cosby-inspired, homemade, you name it. Mine was of the homemade variety. Couldn’t you tell?

This is the BF and Cat pose that’s supposed to make my jealous. Don’t they look real fake in love? Love it.

I’m so glad to say I’ve successfully attended my first ugly sweater party. It certainly put me in the mood for Christmas, which is only 6 days away! I’ve been stressing about homemade projects and tasks that I’ve barely given myself time to breathe. This week will be just for that. Wish me luck.

Did you attend an ugly sweater party this year?

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show

On Friday night, Cat, Nick and I decided to venture to to see their Winter Flower Show. Honestly, and not to sound cliche, but such beauty requires few words, so please view the slideshow below for beautiful flowers and fun moments with friends.

I’m getting into the Christmas spirit – one step at a time!

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Has it really been three weeks already? Here’s my motivating moment of the week: BF was impressed by my muscles. This is an accomplishment because he has muscles. His eyes really widened when I made him feel my bicep. Then he called me “Roids Rose.” That was fun.

Also, I completed a double workout on Thursday. That is very unlike me. I haven’t done that in years, probably.

Exercise

  • Sunday: 4-mile run on the treadmill (it was cold outside!)
  • Monday: 2 mile run, lifted weights (back)
  • Tuesday: 2-mile run, lifted weights (shoulders)
  • Wednesday: 2-mile run, lifted weights (arms)
  • Thursday: 3-mile run (30 mins!!!!), hip hop class for one hour
  • Friday: OFF
  • Saturday: Special 2-hour hip hop class

I’m pretty excited about the two-hour hip hop class tomorrow at the gym. It fits in perfectly with my schedule too, giving me enough time to get food/gifts prepared for a holiday party tomorrow night.  I still can’t believe that double workout on Thursday. I sweat so much (on two different occasions)  I immediately had to take a long shower.

Food

I rocked food this week. I prepared three different healthy/hearty meals and took them for lunch each day, along with a salad, plus my usual snacks (a handful of crackers, granola bar and yogurt for the afternoon). For dinner on M-T-W, I went with large salads with tons of toppings, and they kept me super full. I’m opposite in that I eat a heartier lunch than dinner, as I’m often more hungry during the day than evening. It fuels my body for my afternoon workouts.

On Thursday night, BF and I went to an Indian restaurant, and I had some fried items. I stopped when I was full and didn’t feel bad about indulging in the fried. Later that night, I ate a low-fat ice cream sandwich. Again, I don’t feel bad. I worked my body really hard yesterday, and I don’t think those “extra” calories will set me back at all.

Overall

My energy level is still pretty insane, and I’m amazed at how much more I can do physically and mentally each day. I quit weighing myself because I didn’t want that to be any sort of measure of success. I know my body is changing. I fit into my “skinny” jeans much better than a month ago. My stomach has already decreased in size, probably because I’ve lost the salt bloat (no more chips!). And obviously, as BF saw, my muscles are getting more toned, which makes me happy :)

I sort of feel immune to any kind of sickness at this point [knock on wood]. I’m also gearing up for the half marathon in May 2012. My high school friend K has decided to run it with me, and we’re going to do our long runs together in the spring. I’m looking forward to having a sidekick for this intensive training.

Future 

I’m amazed that I won’t be gaining weight this year at Christmas. And amazed that I already know I won’t because I’ll be working out regularly and indulging in moderation.

Who is this person? I feel like I haven’t seen her in full force in 1.5 year.

[Spoiler alert: If you know me and think I may have sent you a Christmas card, don't continue reading if you want to be surprised. Seriously. Click the "X" in the top right hand corner. Or, ruin your surprise. It's your choice. I just couldn't wait to post. Sorry. ]

Finally. After two long weeks of tinkering, I’ve completed my holiday cards – all 68 of them. It seems that with each passing year, the list continues to grow longer. I guess I keep meeting more people? That’s a good thing. After all the hard work: I am entirely pleased with how these turned out! They are easy to make – though time intensive – and a perfect handmade card if you’re looking to send something more interactive this holiday season.

I split up the project in segments. For around $30 I bought blank cards, red and green paper, ornament hooks, silver ribbon, festive holiday stampers, ink, and essentials like a hot glue gun and a glue-like adhesive to make the pockets. This year, I was thankful to have a team of helpers at different points throughout the project. Cat, Nick and the BF all assisted with cutting, gluing, and stamping. I tackled the ornaments first, using a circular lid for tracing. Then, I moved on to the silver top of the ornament, cutting ribbon and gluing. Then, I hot-glued the hooks to the back of the ornaments.

The real delight was making this card interactive. Cat and I had several ideas for the ways we wanted our ornaments to look once you pulled them out of the green pocket (see below). After some failed attempts (and a wasted 70 ornaments already completed), we decided to go with a classic, standard look with the help of a “Season’s Greetings” stamper. Now I’m just hoping folks are curious enough to grab onto that ornament hook and pull.

 

Batches were sent out this morning, some from me and Cat and I, others from me and BF. It’s interesting having both a roommate AND a boyfriend in which you know different groups of people. On Sunday, I had some free time so I decided to write personal messages on all of my cards. This was the first year I’ve done this, and although it took some time, it was well worth it. I liked the way that BF helped edit my cards.

I’m not sure why I wrote I love you twice. I don’t think I was paying close attention to my words by that point in the night. At least my brother and his wife know I care!

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