February focus

January went out with a bang!

The last few days of January I…

–chose 100 items to get rid of in support of my January focus, made a box to go to Goodwill, the DC Library, a piles to trash, and to freecycle,

–sent packages to two of my sisters including some things I wanted to get rid of that I thought they could use,

–successfully made cake balls (after a failed first attempt),

–did our taxes (including doing our DC taxes BY HAND to figure out a discrepancy and get us money back–oh yeah!),

–made some extra money babysitting and put the money toward my credit card, and

–started making some moves towards my business–reading/researching/brainstorming with others.

I’m feeling that our household is organized and while I work to keep it that way (and continue to stick to my resolutions) through February, I have a new focus for this month.

My focus for February is…my blog!  I’m excited to put some serious energy into Things After the Rings this month.

I’m working with Julie of Savvy Eats to give Things After the Rings a fresh look. So stay tuned for that!

I’ll be doing my first giveaways–yay for free stuff!

And I hope to post a little bit more often.  I have a huge list of post ideas and I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop thinking about them and start writing/posting them!

I’m looking forward to a good month!

I’d love to know:

How did your January end? What’s your focus for February?



What’s for Dinner? Easy Friday

Happy Friday!

Is it just me or was this week particularly tiring? I’m glad we don’t have any plans tonight and can just relax at home. I was super tired this morning, perked up a little bit this afternoon, and now I feel like I’m crashing again. Though there are a bunch of things I’d love to do tonight, I imagine I’ll stay on the couch watching shows on DVR or maybe we’ll get Moneyball onDemand.

Anyway, back to What’s for Dinner?.  Tonight’s dinner was super quick and easy, perfect for a Friday night after a long week.

Chicken and vegetable dumplings; Black bean and cheese taquitos

I bought these apps at Trader Joe’s for the book club meeting I hosted here on Wednesday night (we read The Happiness Project, in case you’re wondering) but we had so much food we didn’t need them. So I figured what a perfect Friday night dinner. This took all of 15 minutes to prepare and the clean up will be minimal as well. And who doesn’t love finger foods?

Making a meal plan for the upcoming week? Check out what else we’ve had for dinner recently:

Comfort Food

Butternut squash stuffed shells

Meals from How Sweet It Is

Date Night

I’d love to know:

What’d you have for dinner tonight?

Gym membership and marriage

Love this article from the Wall Street Journal about conquering the gym:

The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym.

The one that sticks out to me the most is this analogy comparing the gym and marriage:

26. A successful gym membership is like a marriage: If it’s good, you show up committed and ready for hard work. If it’s not good, you show up in sweatpants and watch a lot of bad TV.

I love that!  Because it’s so true. Just having a gym membership and showing up isn’t going to get you in shape and just being in a relationship isn’t going to make it stimulating, satisfying, or happy.  You have to work at it.

Sometimes it’s harder than others.  Sometimes you’re pumped to lace up the sneakers and rock out to your Glee on the elliptical and sometimes you have to repeat “just get out the door” over and over again to get yourself there.

Sometimes you’re excited to listen to your significant other and share your thoughts/feelings/experiences with them and other times you have to remind yourself to be patient and loving so you don’t rip their head off.

But when you do put in the effort, it feels so damn good.

The day we’ve been waiting for

January 3

The day we’ve been waiting for. No, I’m not talking about the Iowa caucuses or the return of Parenthood tonight.  We’ve been looking forward to today because today is our LAST BED BUG TREATMENT.  Hallelujah!

After today, and some serious laundry and mopping, our bed bug fiasco will. be. over! I can’t wait to put our duvet back on the bed, put our clothes back in our closet and dresser, our books back on our bookshelves.  I’m excited to have our kitchen table back (it’s been holding a bunch of our belongings) and to push our furniture back against the walls–we’ll have so much space to walk again!

So even though its back to work today after a great  4-day weekend, today will be a great day.

I’d love to know:

What does January 3 hold for you?

Christmas song debate

Last night Mike and I were discussing Christmas songs with his dad, specifically songs we dislike. One song I  shared was “Last Christmas,”  saying that it’s not even a Christmas song.  And an argument began.

Me: “Last Christmas” isn’t even a Christmas song.  Just because it has the word Christmas in it doesn’t mean it’s a Christmas song.  It’s a breakup song set around Christmas.

Mike: It is too a Christmas song. If your argument is that simply being set around Christmas doesn’t make it a Christmas song then there are countless other songs and movies that would also not be Christmas songs or movies.

Me: You could replace the word Christmas with Thanksgiving or any other day. Like Labor Day. And it would be the same exact song.  It’s not a Christmas song.

Mike: Well then you could make it “Have Yourself a Merry Little Thanksgiving” and it wouldn’t be a Christmas song but that is a classic Christmas song.

Me: That’s because it’s actually about Christmas. “Have yourself a merry little Christmas make the yuletide gay, from now on our troubles will be miles away…”  [ok, as I type this and look up the lyrics I realize that this could be an any holiday song…doh!…]

Mike: It’s a Christmas song because it takes place around Christmas.  Like Christmas Vacation is a Christmas movie because it’s about a family get-together around Christmas. If it was a family get-together around Thanksgiving or Fourth of July it wouldn’t be a Christmas movie.

Me: Christmas Vacation is a Christmas movie because it’s about Christmas and the craziness of families at the holidays.  Of course it wouldn’t be a Christmas movie if it was about another holiday.

[I realize this is getting long so I’ll cut to the point I had that made me win]

Mike: Like, I’ll Be Home for Christmas wouldn’t be a Christmas song if it was I’ll be home for Thanksgiving.

Me: Uh, no.  That song talks about Christmas. “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. Please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents under the tree.” Christmas song.

Mike: Bad example.

After re-playing this whole thing this morning for this post, I realize that we’re really tied since “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” has no other mention of Christmas than the first lyric.  But this was super fun and funny at the time, because it was a pretty heated debate and we don’t have those often. And probably because I thought I was 100% right.

I’d love to know:

What Christmas songs do you hate?  

Thoughts on the song “Last Christmas?”

Any “Christmas” songs that shouldn’t be deemed such?

Overwhelmed with stuff

This is what our apartment looked like when we got home from work on Monday:

No we weren’t robbed. This is how our apartment looked when we prepped for the bed bug treatment. That’s our dining area filled with stuff from our closets, under the bed, other miscellaneous things.

Yep, that’s our bath tub full of trash bags filled with bedding, clothes and shoes. And that’s our bed standing up (there’s nothing else in our bedroom aside from furniture).  And that’s our entry way filled with more trash bags filled with more clothes.

And that’s not even the half of it.  We’re using the vacant studio apartment next door to store most of our clothes.

This process totally sucked before the first treatment when we had to spend an entire day prepping our apartment by cleaning out our entire bedroom and all of our closets and washing pretty much every fabric we own. But then we went to Florida and got a break for the weekend. And it hasn’t been that bad.

But at this point we’re starting to get overwhelmed by the clutter, by the amount of laundry that keeps piling up, at the fact that we can’t find things.  A lot of my pants are snug because they had to go through the dryer and I usually don’t put a lot things in the dryer, and definitely not on high heat (recommended to kill bed bugs). And we’re only halfway through!

A bottle of shampoo spilled in the tub (unbeknownst to us) so when we pulled the bags of bedding out to wash so we could go to bed on Monday night, we ending up getting shampoo on our floor and then we stepped in it and almost slipped. Then when we got back from the laundry room, I got some shampoo on my sock which then got on my leg when I sat cross-legged on the couch.

Packing to go home for Christmas is going to be such a treat. At this point I don’t even remember what clothes I own.  We’ll spend most of the night tonight doing laundry. And at $2 per wash and $2 per dry, this isn’t a cheap process either.  (Though I really can’t complain because our building has been wonderful and is paying 100% of the exterminator’s fees.)

But there is one source of joy in our apartment:

It’s not our best Christmas effort but it’s doing the job. There are four presents under the tree: two for Mike and two for me!  I’m excited to open them at Mike’s parents house on Christmas morning.

The Little Things: Fun in Florida

Just got back from visiting my sister Melissa in Florida. I loved the palm trees, the sunshine, the warm breeze, and being by the water.  I also loved the quality time with two of my sisters, their significant others, and Mike.

Inspired by Julie’s 50 Days of the Little Things, I’ve been thinking about simple things that make me smile for a while now.  Here’s the list of things the little things that made me happy this weekend:

  • painted nails
  • my husband’s sense of humor
  • long conversations with my sisters
  • mini-blueberry muffins with crumb topping
  • cuddling with the dogs
  • Newsies (did you hear it’s on Broadway now?!)
  • my SELF magazine subscription and how it always arrives just in time for my travels
  • holding hands
  • fresh orange juice
  • walking and talking with Melissa’s girlfriend
  • an afternoon nap

I’d love to know:

What little things made your weekend?

Birthday Date

Since my birthday always falls during the weekend of Thanksgiving, Mike and I usually celebrate the weekend before.  Sometime two weeks ago, Mike made a reservation at Graffiato, Top Chef’s Mike Isabella’s new restaurant. He forwarded the confirmation email to me with a note “Happy Birthday. Love, Mike.” What a nice surprise in the middle of the work day.

Friday night was my birthday date.  We had drinks with my sister Chrissy at Iron Horse Tap Room before heading to our 7:30 reservation at Graffiato. We got there a bit early and were seated pretty quickly.

We started with the flat bread and pepperoni sauce.  Oh man, was that good.  I wonder if I could make that at home? Then in a few different rounds we had the burrata (creamy mozzarella cheese), broccolini, scallops, gnocchi, and Jersey Shore pizza (pizza with calamari and a spicy sauce).  We finished with the zeppole, my other favorite dish.

Taking photos of every dish really stops the flow of the meal and the conversation, especially when it’s small plates. I really wanted to be present during our date so I decided before the meal that I wouldn’t take pictures of every dish we ordered.  And I’m so glad I did. We were chatting the whole time, really enjoying each other’s company.  It’s amazing how little you can talk to someone you live with and see every day.  It’s nice when we can go out and give each other our full attention.

I had a really nice time and in the cab on the way home was so content, so grateful to Mike for planning a nice night. And for budgeting for a cab too!

Wondering what he got me?

These sweet notecards with my new monogram!

Thanks for a great birthday date, Mike!


one hundred

This is my 100th post on Things After the Rings! I’ve really enjoyed sharing stories from my marriage, my monthly goals, random life thoughts with you and look forward to sharing even more in the future.

Here are some of my favorite posts from my first 100:

When I learned not to leave the laundry in the dryer overnight.

When I shared my favorite pancakes.

When I found Mike’s wedding suit in the dry cleaning pile.

When I wrote honestly about my quarter-life crisis.

When I saw the little girl and her dad in the elevator.

When I shared a piece of relationship advice.

I’m loving the comments on this post and hope you’ll add your own.

Thank you so much for reading. You can also “like” Things After the Rings on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (@thingsafterings).

I’d love to know:

What topics would you like me to write about more frequently?

Fun-filled weekend

I had a great weekend.  What a weekend should be.  It was full of fun, full of relaxtion, and even a little bit productive.

We had our friend Leigh Anne over for dinner on Friday night.  We made this delicious lasagna and sat around our kitchen chatting.  Cooking for people is one of my absolute favorite things and since moving we really haven’t entertained much.  So, it was great to host again.

Mike and I had each had a nice Saturday morning apart.

On Saturday night, we went to the Caps game with our friends Emily and Zach.

Emily got tickets from work and invited us to join them.  The seats were amazing–6 rows from the ice.  I said to Mike “if we could have that type of seat all the time, I’d be down to go all the time.” The game went into a shootout, so that was pretty cool. For all those who are wondering, the Devils won.

Before the game we had dinner at Zaytinya. We had plenty of time before the game so we were able to relax, take our time, order a couple rounds of food and drink. The food was delicious.  My favorites were the seasonal mushrooms and the scallops. After about 4 carafes of the Pom Fili (white wine, vodka, and pomegranate), we were feeling pretty good, having a good time.

It was exactly what a Saturday night should be: out on the town with good friends, good food, good drink, and lots of laughs.  Thanks guys!

Like I said, we had our fill of Pom Fili, and I was definitely feeling it on Sunday morning.  I wasn’t sick or anything but didn’t feel like doing much. We walked to get bagels and then came back and relaxed.  I read and took a nap.  We had a productive trip to Target and came back and relaxed.  While Mike watched football, I read and took a nap.

I capped off a great weekend with an awesome workout.  Body Combat is one of my absolute favorite gym classes.  I went every Sunday morning I could in the months leading up to our wedding, then took a gym hiatus, and when we moved my new gym didn’t have a class that fit in with my schedule. But they’ve added a Sunday 5pm class and that’s where I was last night.  I have so much fun in Body Combat.  The music gets your adrenaline pumping, the moves work your entire body, and the martial arts focus makes me feel strong–like no one can mess with me.  No joke, I find myself smiling ear to ear and laughing during the class. [It’s fine, you can roll your eyes at me just like I did at the kid in college that said that math proofs were “cute.”] Anyway, I was so glad to be back and had a lot of fun.

While I was at the gym, Mike went to the grocery store and he made us a delicious dinner when we got home. We ate Rachel Ray’s Chicken Parm Meatballs in front of the TV while watching How I Met Your Mother. I cleaned up while Mike hung up some pictures in our bathroom–we now have one room in our apartment complete!

I headed to bed to read and after reading for a bit realized I was tired yet so I went to cuddle on the couch with Mike.  A great end to a great weekend!

So tell me:

How was your weekend?  What did you do?