Monday, January 31, 2011

Organizational Heaven

This weekend while Josh was at work, I decided to tackle a little project of my own. Organizing!

I love mixing and matching different types of jewelry. I enjoy putting interesting combinations together and creating new combinations. I also like how adding a unique piece of jewelry with a few old pieces from my wardrobe can create a whole new outfit.

Lately though I have been wearing the same pieces of jewelry every day. Partially this is because I have been known to be a little sleepy in the morning and not so creative. But mostly this is because my jewelry was unorganized..until now!

This weekend I came across an old jewelry box that has a ton of space and, best off all, is clear. I put everything in the box by style so I can see exactly what I have. I also sorted through the pieces that I don't really have a lot of use for and only put the ones I like to wear in the box. I am very excited to finally be able to see everything I have and start wearing it a LOT more.

What's old is new again!
Being able to see everything is much greater than I could have thought.

Costume jewelry and rings right on top.

Bracelets on the second shelf.

Beads are in the first full drawer.

Smaller necklaces are on the bottom with some sentimental pieces. 

When I finished the jewelry box I was so excited and so inspired that I decided to tackle my hair and makeup products and under the bathroom sink in the main bathroom. 

I can see and find everything I need to get ready in the morning.

Perfection in the bathroom. 
Watch out kitchen and closets, I'm coming for you next!

6 Months!

I still can't believe that 6 months ago Sunday I started Madison Ave Musings. In 6 short months so much has changed, I've learned so much, and I feel like MAM is a huge part of my life. I love having an outlet to write. I love that I am finding my voice. I love sharing ideas, recipes, and stories with so many friends. But most of all, I love reading other blogs and learning so much from what everyone else is doing. I love being a part of the blog community and I am so appreciative to you, my readers.

This entire blogging experience has been so wonderful. Thank you so much for coming back and reading every day. Thank you for being so supportive. Thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts. And most of all, thank you for sticking with me.

As only someone who analyzes and creates communications strategy for a living can do...and just for fun...enjoy the first official "year in review."

By The Numbers of Madison Ave Musings

16,324 visits
25,657 page views
3,565 unique viewers
57 countries
951 cities

Sure, I might not be breaking any records here, but I am so honored, so excited, and so inspired by your support. Thank you for making the last 6 months so memorable and I can't wait to see what the next 6 months has in store.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Twice As Nice

As a kid I used to LOVE London Broil. I would get so excited when my mom would make it for dinner. It was so tasty and delicious.

I don't think I have even thought about London Broil in ages. For the longest time I lived alone and didn't cook much. Then Josh and I ate mostly chicken for the last few years. But lately we have been branching out to including a lot of tofu in our diet and occasionally red meat.

The other night Josh surprised me. He asked my mom how she used to make one of my favorite meals and made it for me. Of course it was just as delicious as I remember.

Prepped and ready to grill (in the snow with no jacket...of course!)

Josh is the grill master!
As always, we had a tasty and pretty healthy meal. YUM

The best part of making the London Broil was that we had a ton of leftovers. We split one of the steaks and left the other one for another night. Leftovers make busy nights so much easier. And lately our nights have been extra busy. Knowing that there is something easy and healthy in the fridge to just heat up saves us from making poor decisions (read: pizza). Plus, how could I not be excited to eat one of my all times favorite meals 2 days in 1 week!

Thanks Josh!!!


In case you couldn't tell here, here, and here, I am not a fan of the snow. UG What a pain this winter has been. Once a week we get 5-10 inches of snow at least. All of the shoveling and all of the mess is getting old fast! We are also running out room to put it.

Our backyard. It's out of control.

Our side yard. Crazy tall.

Our front yard. It is beyond full of snow. 

Our neighbor's front yard. I can't even reach the top of the mound. 

Our neighbor's backyard. The snow is spilling over the fence.

Any suggestions where we should put the snow from the next storm?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Better Late Than Never

Remember the 25 pounds of potatoes we had sitting around after our canceled latke fest? Despite our best efforts to make breakfast for dinner and eat potatoes at almost every meal, we still have serious amounts of potatoes left. At this point we have no idea when we will see the end of our mountainous potato stash. In an effort to use up our potatoes before they go bad, or take over our basement, we have to do something quick.

Since we never had the chance to eat tons and tons of latkes over Hanukah like usual, we decided to make a few...just for fun. Hey, they may be holiday food but they are tasty and fun to make. It was also a way to make a sizable dent in the potato collection.

Traditionally, potato latkes are made with regular potatoes. They are delicious and we like them a lot. However, we LOVE potato latkes made with sweet potatoes. They taste so good and are always a crowd pleaser. We can not eat enough!

First I hand shredded the potatoes. Notice the gloved hand. I'm no Michael Jackson, but I have a serious potato allergy and need to be gloved in order to touch them. Sometimes I feel like my allergy list goes on and on.

Once the potatoes were all done, I grated some onions into the mix. No onion allergy here!

Once I finished my portion of the preparation, Josh stepped in to mix in an egg, some bread crumbs or matzah meal, and a bit of salt and pepper. 

Once everything was ready it was time to fry up some deliciousness. 

Making latkes in our new electric frying pan was so much easier than using a regular frying pan. We could make 12 at a time instead of only 4 and they cooked much more evenly. It was also very easy to clean up.

Though we did not enjoy these latkes until after Hanukah, they were tasty, fun to make, and helped us make a dent in our potato stash. Not to shabby for something that was so delicious!

HGTV, How I Love Thee

It is no secret that I am an HGTV junkie. I could watch HGTV all day, every day. In fact, last month when I was sick I did actually watch so much HGTV that Josh refused to let me be in charge of the remote for a long while after that.

What can I say? I really like watching people on their house hunt, enjoy learning new decorating tips, and appreciate a good home renovation. As a new home owner, it's fun to see what other people are up to behind their front door. After much deliberation and a lot of back and forth, I have come up with my 10 favorite HGTV shows.

My top 10 HGTV Shows
  1. House Hunters
  2. Property Virgins 
  3. Get it Sold
  4. Income Property
  5. My First Place
  6. Designed to Sell
  7. Real Estate Intervention
  8. Disaster DIY
  9. House Hunters International 
  10. Holmes on Homes
Which HGTV shows are your favorite?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Solarium

Our house is set up in a Philadelphia split style. This means that our 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms are set up in an unconventional way. When you walk in the front door there is a long hallway in front of you. On your right is our living room which opens right up into our dinning room and then opens up into the kitchen, pantry, and mud room. On your left when you walk in to our house is the third bedroom and a bit down the hall, the first bathroom. Just past the third bedroom is a staircase. If you take a left at the top of the stairs you will find the second bedroom and to the right is the master bedroom and another bathroom. It sounds a bit confusing when you write it out, but it actually flows very nicely.

When we moved in, most of our old furniture fit perfectly. We of course made the master into our bedroom and made the second bedroom into our guest room. The kitchen was all set up for us and fitting all of our dishes and pots and pans was easy. We bought a new living room set and dining room table pretty quickly. The only room that stumped us was the third bedroom, the one on the first floor.

We did not want to make the third bedroom into a bedroom and did not need a home office. We decided to put our old living room furniture and desk in that room and make a second living room or sitting room out of the space. We wound up with a very cozy room, but also a space that we rarely used...until now.

We moved into our house in the summer and it was HOT. We had 3 air conditioners, one for the main living room and dinning room, one for our bedroom, and one for the kitchen. With only 2 of us in the house, this was all that we needed. And so, as summer turned to fall we almost never used the 3rd bedroom.

But as winter rolled around with its insanely cold temperatures, we re-discovered the third bedroom. Our living room and dinning are great. They are open, have 7 windows between the two, and have a great flow. They also keep their heat really well, especially for an older home. However, even with our new energy efficient windows which have been freshly caulked, our main living areas can't hold a candle to the third bedroom.

The third bedroom is a good sized bedroom, possibly the largest in the house, but it is smaller than the open area created by the living room, dinning room, and kitchen having an open floor plan. It also has a door on it which helps to keep the heat in. There are only 2 windows in caparison to 7 and there are 2 heating sources in one small room. Add in a cozy couch, TV, and 2 computers and we are in heaven. Instead of not knowing what to do with our third bedroom, we know have a winter sitting room, or solarium. PERFECT!

Have I mentioned that we love our house?

Say It Again?

My New York state husband does not believe in wearing jackets. He claims he never gets cold. While he understands why I need to bundle up both inside and outside, a hoodie or a vest is enough for him. He rarely wears gloves, has only just begun wearing scarves (mostly because he has received some really nice ones as presents) and feels that he can survive with a just a hat in most situations.

This upstate New Yorker grills in the snow, wears shorts in December, thinks that slippers make his feet to hot, and doesn't even own a big, heavy, puffy winter coat. He shovels the driveway for hours only wearing a hoodie, a raincoat, and a hat. He doesn't own winter boots, just hiking boots, and he never, ever, ever, complains about being cold.

However, earlier this week when the temperature dipped to way below zero I heard 5 words I never expected out of his mouth: "Now this is jacket weather!" Finally! Jacket weather? Who knew? Some of us have been wearing jackets since October!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Banana Bread

Every family has a go to treat that they always make. For Josh's family it is banana bread. Rarely do we see his mother without receiving a loaf. 9 times out of 10 when we have bananas in the house, Josh wants to make banana bread. There is something about this recipe that reminds him of home, his childhood, and of course his family. It is also pretty tasty too!

With all of this nasty cold weather going around lately, Josh had the urge to make his favorite comfort food. Lucky me!

1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 stick of margarine
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 banana's
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix sugar, eggs, and margarine until blended well
Add in baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, flower and water
Break up bananas into pieces before mixing
Beat everything together until blended well
Finally, add in the desired amount of chocolate chips

Baking Instructions:
Split up batter into 2 loaf sized pans
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown

Let the bread cool
(often we eat one of the breads and freeze the other for later use)

Sundae on Sunday

On Sunday, The Boston Globe Magazine featured an article on the issues that arise when living in a 2 or 3 family home. Since the greater Boston area is packed full of multi-family dwellings, I know this story hit home for many. As hard as it was to read, I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about buying a condo...or who thinks their living situation is bad. Read the full article here.

Oh and after you read this story, you might want to have one of these.

A happy sundae treat to help read a stressful Sunday article. 
Delicious home made sundaes.

They say the good (read: ice cream) makes the bad (read: difficult living situations) better.

Monday, January 24, 2011


No one loves the Celtics more than Josh. He has been a huge fan since he was a little kid. He owns a ton a Celtics gear, has read every book about the team, and follows each season passionately. But as much as he loves the Celtics, he loves Larry Bird more. He always has, and always will. Nothing on the planet makes Josh happier than Larry and the Celtics.

For Josh's birthday, my parents gave Josh tickets to the Celtics game this weekend. Even though Larry was not there, he was THRILLED to go. I was excited to get to go with him. There is nothing more fun than to watch Josh get lost in a basketball game.

It was an awesome game and our seats were fantastic. We got to see Shaq start which was a cool experience for both of us. As always the big 3 were phenomenal, and the bench kicked the Jazz's butts. We also got to rock some of the best Celtics gear in the Garden. We had a blast! Thanks mom and dad, it was a totally Josh-tastic night!

Being in the Garden never gets old.

The Celtics started off to a strong lead and never looked back.
The game was awesome!

All about 18! So many Championship banners!
(If you look closely you can see where they took down the BU hockey championship banners from 2 years ago
and replaced them with the BC championship banners from last year...just saying)

We were definitely rocking old school Celtics shirts.

Such a fun night! GO Cs!

Quiet Weekend

Outside of a super special friday night (more on that this afternoon) Josh and I played it low key this weekend. With the end of the semester having come and gone, the life of a teacher is all about grading and comments. Luckily Josh's need to be attached to his computer coincided with my desire to get ahead on some work, both personal and professional. And so we were homebound most of the weekend. Considering the crazy freezing cold weather we had, I was more than ok with being inside.

While most of the weekend was spent at home, we did get to visit our close friends who had been out of town for 2 months on a spectacular Down Under adventure. It was great to see them, catch up, hear their stories, and most of all, meet their brand new puppy!  While I am not the biggest dog lover out there (thank you life-threatening allergies) this puppy was adorable. He was so cute, so well behaved, and adorable to look at.

We also had time to get in 2 long work outs. I destroyed my own personal longest running record on Saturday by doubling the amount of time I ran without needing to take a short walk break. The best part was that I didn't intend to do it and didn't even realize it was happening at the time. I was watching an intense remodel on HGTV and before I knew it, I had run longer than I ever had before. I was so excited that my celebration almost led me to fall off the tredmill...oops! But it was well worth it.

I have to say, after our weekend of being mostly homebodies, I am pretty refreshed and ready to take on the week. Call me an old lady, but I am really enjoying our much slower weekends. After a spring, summer, and fall packed full of activities, a quiet winter was just what the doctor ordered.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Double Dates

Usually I schedule our weekends with back to back activities. I love being busy and seeing friends. During the week though, I prefer to be more low key. I like going to the gym after work, making dinner, blogging, and vegging out. Sometimes, however, something so fun and exciting comes up that I can't resist it.

Earlier this week Josh and I went on a double date with my our friend Craig and his girlfriend Laine. We had so much fun that I was actually shocked at how late it was when we got home. (What can I say, 10pm is late for me!) As always it was a blast catching up with Craig and it was really great meeting Laine for the first time. We all got along really well, had a ton to talk about, and laughed so much we might have accidentally disturbed those around us.

Josh and I met our dates at Union Street. While not the most glamorous place, I like going to Union Street because the options are endless and they can always accommodate a large group. As always, the food did not disappoint. We ordered a wide array of dinners and everyone enjoyed their dish.

A few pre-dinner drinks. I'm a sucker for Prosecco while everyone else had some beer.

Tasty apps. Nacho flavored mozzarella sticks. SO GOOD!

Turkey tips, tater tots (yes! tater tots!), and broccoli for Craig.

Laine had one serious chicken pot pie.

A typical Samantha go-to meal: Quesadillas.

Tuna salad for Josh...typical

Such a fun double date! 

We all had such a great night. We are already finding a time to do it again!

Dance With Me

When I was going through pictures to add to a blog post I was writing I came across these two old pictures of Josh and I. I hadn't seen them in a while and when I did, I went back to that night and smiled.

It is no secret that Josh and I love to dance. We can't get enough. Burning up the floor at our wedding was the most fun I have ever had dancing. But the night these photos were taken is pretty high on my list too.

The night these pictures were taken was one of the first times we had ever danced together. We had gone out to dinner with friends and then hit up our favorite dance hall. It was a great night. Our relationship was so new and we were so happy. We also had no idea that our friend was taking the pictures. Those cheesy smiles and goofy grins are all real. Nothing staged, no hamming it up. We are both wearing our emotions on our sleeves and you can just tell by looking at them how much fun we were having.

I love that we have documentation of such a lovely moment. And I love how obviously in love with one another we are. I can't help but smile when I see these two photos.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sesame Beef

My number one, most favorite meal that Josh makes is sesame chicken. It is better than I have ever had at any restaurant. I absolutely love it and am confident that we do not eat it nearly enough. While we have talked about using the sauce with other meals or making sesame tofu with broccoli, it has not happened....until now!

The other night Josh made sesame beef and broccoli. It was DELICIOUS! The taste is similar to what you can get at your local Chinese Restaurant, but the dish is much lighter. Sometimes when I eat sesame chicken or beef out I feel like my meal is a little greasy or has an aftertaste. This meal had all of the flavor I was looking for without any of the other stuff I didn't need or want.

I can't believe we waited so long to start experimenting with this recipe. All we had to do was switch out the chicken for beef and throw in some steamed broccoli. So easy! Check out the original recipe here.

7 ingredients is all it takes to make this tasty dish! (8 if add veggies)

Cooking up nicely

Adding the broccoli was the icing on the cake

Such a yummy meal.