Monday, March 17, 2014

Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

A few months into my thirties, and so far, so good. Not much changed overnight, of course. I didn't wake up with wrinkles, and I long ago switched to 10PM bedtimes on weekends. In general, life continues to zoom past. It feels like just days ago, I was turning 25, really understanding what John Mayer sang about a "quarter life crisis." Ha.

Time may be running past me ever quicker, but I have been trying really hard to step back and take in the little moments when I can.

Like the view from our couch, my favorite view in our home. 

Or, a lazy, impromptu lunch at home with my BFF and her 8-month old daughter. No need to worry about the menu in moments like these; chicken and roasted pepper roll-ups with a herby spread do just fine. 

Discovering the sassy feeling a lipstick can provide. Why this took me until nearly 30 to realize, I have no idea. 

Getting home early to make dinner. And having time enough to sit down at the table with my husband and eat said dinner over good conversation. 

Snapping photos of things that inspire me. Especially when budgets don't allow a splurge, I keep the photos as a reminder for the day that I have some fun money to burn. 

Open doors and windows as Spring peaks around the corner. Spring cleaning and purging. Late night conversations filled with dreaming and planning. Happy laughs with coworkers, at the office and after the office. Going to bed early on a weekend with zero FOMO. Hugs. 

It doesn't have to take a lifetime transition to bring happiness or change. What little moments are fueling your springtime ahead? 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Laughs for Ladies Nights

As we have all continued to grow up since our early days of entry-level jobs and internship projects, our PR Girls crowd has gotten more refined in our get-togethers. And by refined, I really mean, simplified.

Early days of happy hours at local restaurants shifted to our single girl apartments, where the wine flowed cheaper and we tried out new appetizer recipes. Now, we have shifted things to our homes, while the husbands are tossed out for the night. Fancy appetizers have given way to quick runs past the store for prepared hummus and chips to add to a few "semi-homemade" treats (since we all know that the wine is the true star!).

We don't go out for PR Girls nights very often anymore. Every so often, though, we break habit and head out onto the town. A girl's gotta live it up every once in a while, after all! Plus, it's fun to throw on some heels and sparkles and have a true ladies night.

We did just that a few weekends ago, ditching the men and hitting up our former stomping grounds over at East Andrews. We weren't heading out for a crazy late night at the bar, however. Or at least, not totally :) We went to have a few good laughs at the Atlanta Improv Theater! 

About the Improv: Founded by Budd Friedman in New York in 1963, many know the Improv from the A&E show “An Evening at the Improv”. Over the decades, the talent who has played center stage include Billy Crystal, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Jamie Foxx, Adam Sandler and Dave Chappelle, to name a few. Today, the Atlanta Improv Comedy Club & Dinner Theatre hosts national touring comics with up to five shows per week.

The comedians that performed the night we attended definitely brought the laughs. The headliner act was my favorite. Ryan Singer had a fun blend of topics that appealed to the mixed audience there that night -- something that's important to me. I enjoy comedy, but don't want to hear raunchy or off-color jokes all night. I like it when a comedian can read the audience, and blend jokes together, from witty to raunchy with a little silly throw in.

One thing to note for your visit is that the Improv has a full food and drink menu. There is a two drink minimum (not hard for us to hit that, ha) and then the food comes from fellow Andrews Entertainment District restaurants, including Stillhouse, Cellar 56, Czar Bar and Stout. Good to know in case you are combining dinner and entertainment for date night at the 8PM show, or have a case of late night munchies at the 10PM show. We stuck with easy champagne and wine, but the full bar looked promising, too.

All in all, it was a great change of pace for the night! We finished out with late drinks at the bar downstairs, part of the old East Andrews -- pretending to be 22 again, but smart enough now to know that the easiest way to head home on a late Friday night is to call Uber ;)

More info: 
56 East Andrews Drive NW Atlanta, GA 30305
(678) 244-3612
Disclosure: I was compensated with tickets for the Improv, but all opinions here are my own. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dinner Party Prepping

The hubs and I did something very grown up this weekend. We hosted my parents for a nice, sit-down dinner party. Homemade pie, coffee and tea and all. Totally acted my 30 years of age ;)

When we got married, I knew that wedding china was definitely going on our registry list. I love to entertain, and have dreams of throwing big, lavish sit-down dinners for friends and family. Some day. 

For now, our tiny, non-expandable, condo-sized table for four will have to do. Two to three guests at a time, check. Once, we tried the awkward "add a bigger table next to the circle table" thing. But that wasn't so successful. No one wants to sit on the curve of the table!

I haven't had many opportunities to use the wedding china since the big day. If I had my act together more, I'd do what my friend Lisa does and use it on the 13th of the month, every month. That is such a nice thought. I think we have managed to use the china a handful of times so far, probably more like once every three months :)

So a dinner party was in high order! And hooray, sure enough, the china definitely upgraded the experience, from first course to coffee service. 

I did what I always do, a trick that I learned from my mom - set the table first thing that morning. It not only gets the atmosphere right, but it's usually something you will want to take time with, so why not get it done first? I ironed the tablecloth and napkins, spent time pulling out the right plates and utensils, and then put it all together. The weather was gorgeous, the door was open -- it was pretty much a perfect start to the day.

This dinner party was a lot of fun. We enjoyed a few different cheeses with crackers and beverages before the main meal. We decided on the following recipes --

* Mahi Mahi with Braised Tomatoes - Based on a Bacchanalia recipe from a cookbook we received, filled with famous dishes from tons of great restaurants around the country. The fish was light, and finished in the oven, making it easy to prep.

* Gratin of Belgium Endive - A Cooking Light recipe I tore out in 2009. Made it for the first time, and would definitely enjoy this one again! It paired well with the lighter fish and tomatoes, but as a Cooking Light recipe, it wasn't too heavy, like a true gratin might be.

* Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie with homemade whipped cream - Recipe from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds cookbook that I received at Christmas (thanks, Adrienne and Tim!). Oh my. The filling was amazing. The crust, I need to try again, now that I have made it once, but I could tell it will be stellar when I get it just right. 

It was all so good together! We chose the recipes partially by what would be seasonally appealing -- no need to make a stew when it is going to be 70 degrees outside! -- and also easy for us to prep while still spending time with our guests. The pie was the most time consuming, but I could make it in advance, along with the tomatoes. The endive, we also prepped in advance and just threw in the oven to brown when guests were due to arrive. That way, it was done around the time we were ready to eat. The fish was the one item that needed a little last minute attention, but it was a quick task, and one that the hubs could do while talking about beer with my dad.

All in all, it was a great night. And now, I can't wait to have another party and use that china again soon :)

Have you thrown any dinner parties recently? What did you choose to make? How did it go?!