Friday, December 24, 2010

Vacation, Staycation, Blogcation

A wonderfully exciting thing is happening to Josh and I this year. For the first time ever (aside from our wedding and honeymoon) we both have the same vacation! THE SAME EXACT VACATION!!!!

Josh’s school is closed between Christmas and New Year's and so is mine! 10 whole days with no work, no alarm clocks, and no deadlines. I am so excited I can’t wait! And, the best part is, for the first time ever no one (read: Samantha) has to take actual vacation days for vacation. Being married to a teacher who has an inordinate amount of time off, I never thought this day would come.

In honor of 10 days with nothing to do, I am trying very hard to convince myself that we do not need plans. Sure, there are a few movies we want to see, friends to hang out with, some projects to do in the house, and our goal is to finish picking out the photos we want in our wedding album (yes, 6 months later), but in general we want to take advantage of this time off. I am not usually a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person, but for this vacation I am going to embrace it. And, I am going to unplug for a while.

While I usually post my blog 2 times a day, 5 days a week, I am going to make our staycation a true vacation and take a very short break from blogging too. Just one week. I love blogging, I enjoy sharing my life with you all, and most of all, I appreciate you reading me every day. I still can't believe that you tune in every day to see what is going on on Madison Ave Musings. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Have a happy and healthy New Year and please check back right after the 1st of the year. I will be back and posting some tasty treats and a HUGE surprise for Josh's birthday.

Merry Christmas

Did you ever wonder what Jewish people do on Christmas?

Now you know.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Steak and Potatoes

I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl. And when I need a break from chicken and am having too much tofu, Josh always know what to do. Steak tips! And potatoes rice! Hey, it's his favorite too. Yummy dinner and being able to use the grill, really, what could be better?

Yes, in 30 degrees and snow, Josh is just as happy to grill as he is in the summer. There is no such thing as non-grilling weather in our house.

Sometimes finding the kind of kosher meat we want is a little challenging, so we get creative. Josh made his own steak tips and marinaded them in our #1 favorite, Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Seriously, this stuff is amazing, and we put it on everything.

As always, when Josh is on grilling duty, I'm on salad duty. (Notice that I have to make 3 salads. 2 for dinner and 1 for Josh to bring for lunch).

Our team work paid off last night. Dinner was delicious, well balanced, and fairly easy. Not too bad for a middle of the week creation. (Note who added tomatoes to their salad and who added soy cheese)

What is your favorite meal?

I Love My Job

I try not to talk about work too often here. It is important for me to keep the two separate for many reasons, but mostly, this blog is about my personal life and I want to keep my professional life, just that, professional.

That said, I love my new job. Seriously, taking this job was the best decision I have ever made professionally. I love what I am doing. My assignments, both large and small, are fascinating. I learn something new, useful, and interesting multiple times a day. The people I work with are great. They are so kind, considerate, and smart. Their backgrounds are so different from mine and that makes everyday a bit more exciting.

Everyday I get to come to an environment where people really like each other. I get to work on projects that stimulate me professionally and academically. I still get to the use the skills and experiences I have gained along the way while constantly learning new ones. Most of all, work doesn't feel like work. It's fun, entertaining, and gives me exposure to a whole new world I knew nothing about.

I am not exaggerating when I say that almost every morning I wake up excited to go to work. I also can't wait to share my day with Josh when I get home. I love telling him what I learned that day, or how I was able to solve a problem, or another interesting tidbit I heard from a coworker. Life is just fun and exciting right now and I am soaking it all in.

Here is to a wonderful career move and hoping that 2011 will be as great professionally as the end of 2010 was!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Brownie Cookies

Last night I decided to bridge an interesting divide. Bake a parve treat that could also double as a Christmas cookie. While I was at a loss of what to do, I knew my mom would have the perfect answer. In her very large (and very yummy) collection of recipes, she found me exactly what I needed, chocolate chip brownie cookies. And to fulfill both my desire to bake parve and my love of short cuts, the cookies started with brownie mix. AWESOME!

I doubled the recipe, but all you need to make the Brownie Cookies is:
1 box of brownie mix 
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
6 oz. of chocolate chips

Mix all of the ingredients together 

And then fold in the chocolate chips. 

After mixing, grease pans and use a teaspoon to scoop cookies onto the sheet. 

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. The recipe should make 2-3 dozen cookies (the smaller you make the cookies the better.)

Make sure the cookies are completely cool before packaging them up. And when you do package them up, make sure you package them cutely!

And there you have it. Kosher, parve cookies for Josh and I to enjoy, and cute Christmas cookies for my coworkers.  Thanks mom!

Photoshop Fun

Manipulating photos used to scare me. I was always worried that if the subject of the photo was not perfectly center, or the photo itself was not perfect, then the photo would not turn out well. After reading this post by Tina, I decided to finally get over my fear of photoshop and start playing with my photos.

I started playing with one of my all time favorite photos of Josh and I from the day we took our engagement photos.

Original Photo

After playing with the black and white feature and the bright and blur features, I finally settled on a cool vintage look. Not too bad for a first timer.

My favorite one

Who knows? I just might start taking a lot more risks with my photos. Do you have any shooting or editing tricks to make sure your pics come out top notch?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow....NO!

It's official, it's winter in New England. The snow came last night. And all I have to!

As much as I love Boston and would not want to live anywhere else (on our 4th date I told Josh, in no uncertain terms, that I was a Boston girl and no way would I ever leave again), I hate the snow. Sure, some people find it endearing. They want a white Christmas. They love outdoor winter activities. Not me. I hate the snow. I hate, hate, hate it. I hate driving in it, I hate walking in it, I hate looking at. Ug. I hate the snow.

I hate the snow so much that I was bugged to no end when my all time favorite TV character, Lorelai Gilmore, loved the snow. I cringed when I saw this clip. How could she love the snow? What was wrong with her?

It wasn't until I finally saw this clip that I was happy with Ms. Gilmore's attitude. She got it! Snow is a pain, it causes issues, it make life more complicated.

Of course at the end of the episode, Lorelai 'made up' with snow.  I guess all good things must come to an end. Though I'm not sure my dislike of the snow will ever come to an end. It just makes me grumpy...of course I do love a good snow day.

On second thought....maybe snow isn't all that bad. But only if I don't have to go out in it :)

'Tis The Season

I have been to a LOT of holiday parties this year. More than I can ever remember, and that is saying a lot because when I first graduated college I worked on Capitol Hill and there were holiday parties everywhere.

I have celebrated with friends, family, coworkers, suite mates, other departments, and the faculty/administration at my work. Josh and I have celebrated alone, with his family, and next week with mine.

In the last few weeks I have rocked traditional green and red, blue, silver sparkles, bling, pins, ribbons, and fancy shoes galore. I have spent more time putting together outfits than I would like to admit. I have worked hard to get my work done in time to celebrate. I have spent time at home cooking, baking, and planning to make sure my contributions to the parties are perfect. As much as I used to not be a super big fan of the holidays, I have to say, this year, I’m having a blast.

Why not celebrate the holiday season with some fun and flair? Sure I do not celebrate Christmas personally, but why not get into the spirit of things? It is fun to help friends celebrate. Enjoying the holiday season with coworkers is a great way to get to know them. Being happy and festive inside when it is cold and dreary outside is a nice change of pace. So much of my life I spend time being serious, planning, worrying about what is going to happen next, or trying to stay ahead of the game. It is a welcome relief to relax, enjoy life, and the people around me.

Any excuse to eat cookies right?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Delicious Dinner

After a fun day celebrating Hanukah with Josh's family, we wanted something tasty and easy for dinner. Of course, we went to the obvious choice. Soy Tacos!

I swear we could eat tacos every day and not get sick of them. They are so tasty, so easy, and so filling. All of this in just 5 simple steps. YUM!

Step 1: saute onions

Step 2: Josh's special guacamole

Step 3: Heat up soy crumbles and add BBQ sauce

Step 4: Get the rest of the fixins together
cheese, salsa, cut tomatoes, sour cream

Step 5: Enjoy!

I love taco nights! Good thing we have left overs. We get to enjoy tacos tomorrow night too. Yes.

Lost 36 Hours

Generally our weekends are filled with a mix of errands, friends, football, and lots and lots of fun. Most Sundays when I sit down to recant our weekend I have to pick and choose what I want to write about, skipping over mundane chores and focusing on how we spent Shabbat and other fun plans we had. This weekend, there was a lost 36 hours.

On Friday I did not wake up feeling so great. By the time the afternoon rolled around, my throat was on fire and I was exhausted. I made it home from work in time to put on my sweats pass out on the couch.

Saturday was no different. We were supposed to have a bunch of people over for a day of latkes, friends, and fun. Although I was sad to have to cancel, I could barely get out of bed, let alone cook for hours before having a house full of people (anyone in the Boston area have a need for 25lbs of potatoes?). Luckily, our friends were all super understanding, and I had a whole day to literally do nothing. Josh was great. He kept bringing me food and drinks, but mostly just let me sleep. Aside from watching an entire Giuliana and Bill marathon and more HGTV than any one person should, I barely remember what I did for 36 hours over the weekend.

Thank goodness I woke up feeling a lot better on Sunday. I even felt well enough to go to Josh’s family Hanukah party. I haven’t been sick like that for a long time. I’m just glad that it happened over the weekend so I had time to rest…and that it is behind me. 

Friday, December 17, 2010


Josh and I love sushi. I mean we love it. love, love, love it. We would eat it every day if we could. In fact, sometimes we do eat sushi multiple days in a row.

A few years back, a good friend of mine and I decided to take it upon us to try spicy tuna at every sushi place in all of Boston. We made it to over 25 places and staked out our favorites. At one point during our adventure I thought we were going to turn into a spicy tuna roll. Although she no longer lives close enough to go on sushi taste testing adventures, Josh is a pretty good stand in.

When we lived in our old apartment, Josh and I took on a similar project. We went to every sushi restaurant we could find and ranked them. Years later, the quest is not over. While we have all had many, many delicious types of sushi, finding new places never gets old. 

Last night marked another notch on our sushi tasting belt. We had takeout from Aji. It was yummy, priced well, and left us wanting to go back very, very soon. Dare I say we found our new favorite sushi place?

The perfect Sushi meal

So spicy, such good tuna. YUM

My second favorite, sweet potato. Delish

Swan Song

There is so much to love about The Sing-Off.

  1. The A Cappella is A Mazing!
  2. Dreamy Nick Lachey, need I say more?
  3. The cheese factor is sky high.
  4. Ben Folds is the smartest, funniest, weirdest dude out there.
  5. The opening number makes me smile from ear to ear :)
  6. Did I mention that the A Cappella is A Mazing?
  7. Sean Stockman, enough said.  
  8. Nicole Scherzinger's crazy, wacky, and mildly inappropriate comments.
  9. The overly dramatic theme music.
  10. THE SWAN SONG!!!
Josh said he would want Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles for his Swan Song. There is no question in my mind that I would totally choose N Sync's Bye Bye Bye for mine. What song would you choose?

This is Samantha signing off from the Sing-Off blog post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I feel like it takes me a really long time to get ready for bed. I add about 45 minutes to my estimated bed time just to do everything I need to do.

I start by packing my lunch, getting the coffee set, making sure my jacket and shoes are set, picking my outfit for the next day, and cleaning up everything downstairs. Then I head upstairs to start the routine.

First up, 

Then, some old school

While that is on my face like a mask, I use
Then it's time to wash off the noxzima with 

Last up is a little

Yes, 45 minutes to get ready for bed is a long time, but there also is something to be said for a routine, right? Wrong according Josh. I wish I could compare how much time it takes him to get ready for bed vs. how much time it takes me. However, by the time he gets ready for bed, I have been fast asleep for a long time. Though if I had to guess, I bet it takes him less than 2 minutes to change his clothes and brush his teeth before bed. 

Ladies Man

That's right ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ballroom Dancer, Mr. High School Teacher, Mr. Soccer Coach, Mr. Triathlete himself will be making his weekly appearance at Zumba! You do not want to miss this! At least that is what the groupies say...Yes, I said groupies.

The more mature women in our Zumba class are obsessed with  can't get enough of love Josh. They literally go gaga for him. It is pretty funny to watch. He, of course, loves the attention. During class he always 'hits hard.' He dances his heart out every week, makes expressive faces with every move, and is the most entertaining member of the group.

Last week after class, one of Josh's groupies approached me for the first the locker room no less. One of the more mature women in our class (after months of ignoring me and fawning over Josh) marched right up to me to confirm that Josh was, in fact, my husband. When I said yes, she exclaimed: "Oh good. I'm so glad! He brings such a positive energy to class. What a nice young man, I'm glad he is your husband."

It took every ounce of self-control I had to not burst out laughing in her face. When she finished talking I politely agreed with her that, "Yes, Josh did bring a nice energy to the class," and "It is refreshing to see such a nice young man in class every week" and then quickly excused myself.

By the time I found Josh I could barely speak I was laughing so hard. I managed to get the story out and we both cracked up. Of course I was laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing, while Josh was basking in the attention of his groupies. But you better believe that Josh brought his A game to Zumba the following week and that his groupies loved it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yes, No, Maybe

My relationship with chicken lately has been hit or miss. In theory I like chicken, a lot. It is a healthy meal option that packs a ton of protein and can be made a thousand ways. It goes with everything, is affordable (even the kosher kind), and makes the perfect part of a balanced meal.

On the other hand, I just can't handle chicken anymore. There is something about the texture, the way it feels in my mouth, and just chewing it grosses me out. I'm not sure when the change happened. When I went from loving chicken to hating, but right now it is at an all time high.

However, last night a strange thing happened. I had a craving for my old favorite, paprika chicken. Josh nearly fell over when he heard...and immediately fired up the grill. While I only ate a tiny piece of chicken, it wasn't too bad. I might not go back to eating it all of the time, but on occasion when I am craving it, I just might give in. I guess being open-minded is the way to go.

And once again, I am back on the chicken roller coaster.

Check out my #1 favorite chicken recipe...that is when I'm eating chicken.

All of the secret ingredients

Ready for the grill

A perfect, well balanced, meal

Are there any foods that you love to hate...or hate to love?

Parking Trouble

I fought the garage and the garage won...until today!

Since I started my new job I have been having trouble getting in and out of the garage. While it is not rocket science, for some reason, no matter what I do, I cannot angle my car so that the wand that is attached to the top of my windshield actually makes the electronic arm go up. Every morning, while traffic is backing up through the campus and onto the main road, the nice man who sits in the attendant hut has to get out, walk over to me, and manually open the garage. At this point, he knows me very well. He even starts walking over when he sees me pull in.

Well, nice man who braves the cold, rain, and wind to help me, Merry Christmas!

Today, for the first time ever, on my first try, I was able to raise that electronic arm and enter the parking garage without trouble. I did not hold up traffic, cause a scene, or inconvenience anyone. I did it! And as if that was exciting enough, the nice man who always helps me literally cheered and clapped for me as I drove right past without trouble.

Now that my friends, is a Christmas miracle. (Let's just hope I can do it again!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


While Josh and I love having friends and family over for dinner, we have not quite yet figured out how to cook for the amount of people we are having. Every single time we have company we literally make enough for twice the number of people present. There are two possible explanations to this situation...either we are the worst  judges of how much people actually eat on the planet, or we have prematurely become Jewish parents.

Whatever the reason, this Friday night, was no exception. So it begs the question, what does one do with a large bowl of leftover pasta?

Luckily, Josh has been in this situation before. He sauteed up some veggies we had in the house and made a yummy stir-fry/pasta combo. As always, the creation was delicious....and perfect for a cold, rainy winter night. 

Let the sauteing begin

Add in some pasta

And some sauce

To make a hearty meal.

While I love having leftovers in the house and enjoy Josh's ability to make new creations out of our meals, we really need to learn how to cook appropriate amounts of food for our guests. Otherwise, one day soon we will either run out of room in our fridge or explode from trying to eat all of the leftovers!

Wrapping or Rapping

Even though Hanukah is officially over, our Hanukah parties have just started. In the next few weeks Josh and I are attending many family Hanukah parties, work holiday parties, and friends' winter celebrations. In preparation for all of these fun events, I was a wrapping machine this week.

The only way I know how to get it all done.
All of my toys spread out so I can see them.

Present wrapping is serious business.
Especially when it comes to picking the perfect paper and making the bows.

My mom taught me well! Hope everyone likes what is inside.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What a Weekend

Lately, our weekends have been jam-packed. We have been accomplishing so many goals, seeing so many friends, and doing a ton that the weekend feels a lot longer than just 2 days. This weekend was no different. It was the perfect mix of fun, relaxation, and accomplishment.

We kicked off Friday night with one of our favorite activities, guitar minyan. We had a great group of friends over for a potluck dinner and some seriously entertaining singing. It was a blast. Everyone sat around our new dinning room table, which was a first for us.

Our new table has come in handy many times already

It was also the first time we used our Le Spaghettate plate

For the large quantities of pasta and sauce we made
It was a great night and definitely helped us get in the weekend mood.

Saturday morning Josh and I woke up early for a spinning class. The teacher was killer and we had a great work out. After, I was unsure if I would be able to walk any time in the near future. Luckily, I rallied because we needed to run to BJs to pick up a few things before stopping at the market on the way home. Once home, we took a much needed rest before Josh jumped into outside chore duty and I tackled all of our present wrapping needs. The day flew by a lot faster than we hoped it would, but we were able to accomplish everything on our list before our big night out.

In the evening we had dinner with my mom and then went to see our family friend in her high school play. She did a great job! It is always really fun to see her up on stage and in her element. It was also great to see her mom, one of our favorite people on the planet. The show itself was awesome. It was much better than any high school play I have ever seen. It was a really fun night.

Sunday for us was all about rest, relaxing, and visiting friends who live way too close for us not have seen them in as long as we had. It was great to catch up and make future plans too. We also watched the Patriots dominate in yet another game and I did some blogging work. 

I know we only had 2 days off from work, but with all that we did this weekend, it felt a whole lot more.

Ode to Calendars

I have my new calendars! 2 fresh, clean, new calendars empty of plans and appointments, and full of possibilities. There is something about a new calendar that excites me.

I love going to the store, spending more time than necessary choosing the perfect calendar for home and for work. It is an important choice, because it sets the tone for the whole year. I love filling the calendars up with birthdays and anniversaries. I also love flipping through the pages of last year's calendar, seeing the exciting things I did, milestones I passed, and reliving some of my best days. 

I love starting next year with a clean slate. Knowing that the year ahead is full of wonderful memories to be made, exciting adventures to take, and some things I could never even think up makes this time of year second to none. As a kid I felt the same way about academic planners. There is just something about starting fresh with endless possibility that makes me so excited. 

This year I went with a front porch theme for work and a tropical escape for home.
I love calendars that bring some summer fun to our lives in the cold weather. 

So peaceful, so nice


And yes, I'm well aware that my love of calendars, all things organization, and all other tools to keep things orderly makes me a big nerd...but a super organized nerd.