Thursday, October 25, 2012

Polka Dots & Stripes Forever

Sweater: Old Navy // Blouse: J.Crew // Jeans: Gap 1969 Real Straight // Shoes: Cole Haan // Sunnies: Cole Haan // Clutch: J.Crew Factory // Watch : Citizens // Bracelets: c/o Derng, Vintage 

Like 90% of the world I went out and bought that polka dot sweater from Old Navy when it came out in August.  Sadly enough, it's no longer available online and I haven't been to an Old Navy store since I bought it so I have no idea if it's still in stock.  I'm happy I got it in not one, but two colors.  Yes, my love for polka dots is that great that if I see a polka dot sweater on sale for 40% off that just means I can buy more than one. 

I don't even know if pairing polka dots and stripes together can be called "pattern mixing" because they go together like "lamb and tuna fish."  They're just meant to be paired together! 

Don't be fooled! We're not posing. There was a squirrel running along our fence and I picked Jewels up to give the squirrel a chance live another day. 

Pst: Have you liked my photos yet on Pinterest?  Voting ends Friday night at midnight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Photoberfest 2012: I need your votes!

Let me preface this post by saying that I usually hate asking for help and normally wouldn't ask for help to gain votes for a contest, but I really want to win!

I follow Katie Evans Photography Blog because she provides a ton of helpful tips and inspiring photos for aspiring photographers. I do NOT think of myself as anywhere near a professional photographer, rather I think of myself as a pretty dedicated hobbyist who is constantly trying to get better.

And here's where I need your help.  Katie is back at it with her yearly Photoberfest contest and each week in October there is a different theme.  This is week 4 and the theme is, "Unleashing creativity: take a picture using your own creative style."

Submissions are pinned on the Katie's Week 4 Board on Pinterest.  Pinterest users can like the photos there and whatever photo has the most votes by midnight Friday night gets the win.  I have three photos entered for Week 4's contest and I'd really appreciate it if you could go and like my photos before midnight this Friday, October 26th.

The winner receives three ebooks from Katie (amazing reference materials), a $25 gift certificate to Camera Coats, a three-month subscription to Rock the Shot, and a camera strap from See Lori Sew.  I could really use all of those things, but the ebooks would mean the absolute most to me.

If you have a second, please like my three photos here:

Thank you!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Cupcakes

I have cupcakes on the brain it seems. I recently upgraded my  bakeware to include the Nordic Ware aluminum muffin tins and they are so amazing all I want to do is bake more cupcakes.

Enter my dear Martha Stewart Cupcakes book with another recipe.  Now, I've looked for this recipe on and the recipe listed online differs significantly from the one I used and found in my book.  The recipe listed in the book calls for decorating the cupcakes with little gingerbread cookies, but I didn't do all that. I'll save that for the holiday season.

Ingredients: Yield 22 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses 
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour and spices.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the molasses, and beat until combined.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is incorporated.  Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined (that's key, don't overmix the batter)
  3. Fill muffin liners 3/4.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.  
  4. Ice with your favorite frosting.  I went with a simple creamy vanilla frosting.  

I definitely didn't intend for it to happen, but I swear my quick tab of frosting on that one cupcake came out looking like a heart. Am I the only one who sees it that way?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Centennial Lake, MD Sunset

Over the weekend I did a photo shoot with an adorable family at Centennial Park in Columbia and this magical sunset wrapped up our session.  Only problem is that I don't know which picture I like better. 

I love the first photo because you can see the trees and a hint of their beautiful foliage (a hint people!).  The photo has more light in it because the sun was just about to dip below the horizon. 

But then there is this photo:

It's dark and moody. I love the outline of the tree on the right.  I know it's kind of bland because the sunset is centered in the photo, but I don't believe everything has to follow the rules of thirds.  I wanted to get the trees on both sides of the sunset and capture as much of the water as possible.  

Which one do you like better?  I'm leaning towards the second one, but there's just something about the first picture that keeps pulling me back in. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Meridan Hill Park / Malcolm X Park

Last weekend I met up with a friend to take a few photos of her adorable 17 month old at Meridan Hill Park, which is unofficially known to DC residents as Malcolm X Park.  I don't know why there are two names for one park, but it's pretty enough to warrant more than one name.  I arrived at the park a bit earlier to scope the place out and I had just enough time to snap a few pictures.  

I really need a longer telephoto lens because I felt extremely guilty taking this picture. I struggle tremendously with taking photos of strangers.  A longer lens would let me hide a bit farther away!

The Drum Circle was amazing.  I got there when most of the drummers were just getting started, but when I came back later with a curious 17 month old they were in full swing. 

The  cascading water fountain might get most of the recognition at the Park, but I think the ducks that take over the  pool would beg to differ. Kids were lining up to feed the ducks and it was really cute. Although I felt bad when this guy swam right up to me expecting food and I didn't have anything to give him. 

Joan of Arc statue, which in a city full of statues of people on horses, this statue has the distinction of being the only female rider in the city. 

If I would have had more time I would have ventured down to this beautiful church on 15th street.  Maybe next time. 

There were two main reasons for coming to the park: the beautiful landscape and the cute kid. 

I mean, come on, she wore an adorable polka dot dress with ruffles! Such a cutie pie.  

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gray with fall accents

Cashmere Sweater: Old Navy // Button Down: J.Crew // Trousers: ESPRIT // Shoes: Calvin Klein via Rue La La // Purse: Vintage Louis Vuitton // Necklace : Spike The Punch

As soon as I stepped off the train the other day it started to pour.  Thankfully it was a quick fall storm and it had almost stopped by time I got home. Almost being the key word.  I don't usually like to take any photos on my front porch because I don't want my neighbors to think I'm crazy, but the hubs so eloquently stated, "they see you go running at all hours of the day, so they probably already think you're crazy." 


Back to the rain.  I'm not normally a big fan of rain, but it's so pretty in the fall when the vibrant colored leaves pepper the ground like metallic dots.  I didn't even plan it, but my outfit kind of worked for the weather - gray with fall colored accents. Maybe I should say I planned it :) 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Martha Stewart's Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

Warning: You might be in the mood for some individual-sized cheesecakes after reading this post.  This recipe is super easy to follow and it's one of those things that'll make you look like a fantastic baker even though it's so easy to make.

This recipe comes from my beloved Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, but I could not locate this specific recipe on  If you find this recipe there, please let me know so I can provide the correct link.

My only beef with this recipe is it calls for 42 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies and the standard bag of Oreos only contains 39 cookies.  I hate when that happens! The hubs quickly pointed out that perhaps Nabisco reduced the amount of Oreos they put in their standard package since Martha's book was published, but I just think it's a ploy to make you buy two packages of Oreos. Let's be honest, there are times when you can go generic brand and there are times you can't and when it comes to Oreos I don't think you can go off brand.

Ingredients: Yield 30 cupcakes

  • 42 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies, 30 left whole and 12 coarsely chopped
  • 2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt (I skipped this) 


  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Yes, you read that right! I was surprised too by the low baking temperature.  Plop 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each standard muffin liner and place in muffin pan.        
  2. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Gradually add sugar and beat with the cream cheese until combined.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. Slowly add eggs, roughly one at a time (remember they should have been lightly beaten prior to adding to your sugary, cream cheese mixture).  Beat in sour cream and salt.  Stir in chopped cookies by hand. 
  4. Divide bater evenly among your cookie-filled cups and fill each almost to the top (these cupcakes don't rise so don't follow the standard "fill up 3/4 of the way").  Bake your cupcakes for roughly 22 minutes.  Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool completely.  Refrigerate (suggested in tins, but I didn't have enough tins to do that and mine survived in a 13 x 9 cake pan) at least 4 hours.  Remove from tins just before serving. 

Funniest thing happened Monday morning when I gave the hubs a small tray of these to take to work he stalled and said, "there's more of these here for me, right?" Yes, dude, there's more in the fridge for you. Gesh, I just wanted him to take a few to his coworkers who ran the Baltimore Half Marathon and Marathon. Be a team player dude!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2012 Baltimore Running Festival Recap

Yeah, I stole that image.  Admitting it is half the battle right? P.S. Anyone else think it's ridiculous that my bestie doesn't even sweat or look tired after doing a half marathon as a fun run? 

Friday night I laughed too much with my bestie, Bee, and stayed up a bit too late, but it was all in good fun. Thankfully the Baltimore Half Marathon doesn't start until 9:45am and that meant I got to sleep in until 7:30 on Saturday morning.  Most races start at 7am, so sleeping until 7:30 felt like I slept through the whole day.  

I complained a bit (naturally) about the late start time, but then it dawned on me that it was better for the marathoners to have more runners on the course during the later miles. The two other marathons that I've run that also have a half marathon portion have the half marathoners start off with the full marathoners and then the halfers peel off somewhere on the course.  That really thins out the crowd and can suck if you're running with someone at a decent pace and then they ditch you. All of the Baltimore Marathoners wear a "full" tag on their backs while they're running and I've got to say that for miles 10-13 of the half, miles 23-26 of the marathon, all of the half marathoners were cheering and encouraging the full marathoners.  It's better than crowd support when it's other runners pulling you towards the finish. At least that's what I thought. I hope to give a full marathoner's perspective next year when I finally run the Baltimore Marathon. 

As for the race, Bee and I wanted to run the half at our marathon pace.  I was hoping to run a tad faster than marathon pace and run in the 8:40 - 8:50 per mile time frame.  I ran a 1:56 half marathon so I achieved my goal.  Bee ran a bit too fast, but not fast enough that she's worried about not recovering before Marine Corps.  Eeck that's in less than two weeks! 

Greatest thing about Saturday's run was seeing the hubs on course.  He had to work on Saturday at a site in Baltimore and he was able to walk over during the race to see if he could find me.  His timing was near perfect and he only had to wait 15 minutes to see me run by.  I ran over to him and gave him a massive high five and then just kept on chugging by. We're dorky like that. 

Anyone else run a race in the Baltimore Running Festival?  What was your takeaway?  The weather was gorgeous and that's always a perk when running for a few hours. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Baltimore Running Festival: Expo 2012

Last night was just another crazy busy night in my house.  I had to: bake a lemon pound cake for a co-worker's birthday (don't worry the hubs got three cupcakes out of the deal), play dodgeball, watch game 4 of the ALDS, watch the VP debate, and hit up the Baltimore Running Festival Expo.  I knew I couldn't do everything on my list in one night so I had the hubs pick up dinner on his way home and he DVRed both the baseball game for me and the debate.  I'll be completely honest, I watched the baseball game when I got home from dodgeball instead of the debate.  Priorities people!

I literally RAN through the expo because I was so short on time, which stinks because there were a ton of vendors there and I would have liked to have looked through all of the gear.  However, when the Baltimore Running Festival gives you an awesome Under Armour premium buying anything else at the expo just seems silly. 

How much do I love this year's shirt?  So much I want to break every running rule known to mankind and wear the race shirt on race day.  Last year's orange shirt quickly become one of my go-to favorites and I'll keep running an event during the Baltimore Running Festival just to pick up the race premium. 

Purple - CHECK!

Semi-Fitted - CHECK! 

Amazing material - CHECK! 

I feel like Ray Lewis every time I look at this thing. Hopefully that'll provide a much needed energy boost somewhere around mile 11. 

Seriously, an awesome tech shirt that also provides sun protection for gingers? Count me in?!?!?!

Running races can really take a toll on my bank account and it's getting to the point that if there isn't a cool shirt or medal involved I'm really not all that interested.  I know that makes me sound shallow and pathetic, but I try not to buy too much running gear in order to keep my budget in check.  Shoes, pants, sports bras, and even high quality socks are ridiculously expensive.  I like to save money in the shirt department by running races that give out a tech shirt.  Would I have paid the retail price of $45 for the shirt above? Definitely not.  But, if it's part of my race fee then I'm cool with it.

I'm not saying I only run for the swag, but a cute and functional shirt goes a long way in my book.  Any other runners feel the same way? Or feel differently?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Orioles vs Yankees: ALDS Game 2

After staying up way too late on Sunday night and somehow functioning on too little sleep on Monday the hubs and I were back at Camden Yards on Monday night for Game 2 of the ALDS. 

The high temperature for the game was a brisk 51 degrees and that was before the rain came into play.  Thankfully, it wasn't raining before the game so the teams were actually able to take batting practice on the field rather than below the stadium in the cages.  Let's just say I'm a little ticked off with Nick Swisher because that dude had plenty of opportunities to toss me a ball and he didn't.  Actually, he didn't throw a single ball into the stands to any of the few Yankee fans in attendance.  Jerk. 

This is going to sound a bit crazy, but University of Delaware alumni are very proud of the grounds crew at Camden Yards because the crew is under the direction of a fellow UD alum.  I couldn't tell you where a single other head grounds keeper went to school! 

The hubs and I are usually left field/third base people, so it was a nice change of pace to sit over behind first base and get a different perspective of the Yard. 

I have zero brand loyalty when it comes to staying warm. Zilch. None. Nadda.  Hunter Boots, Nike Dri-fit tights, jeans, Saucony running socks, Adidas soccer socks, Nike running vest, Under Armor cold gear long-sleeve shirt, Brooks mock turtle-neck pullover, Yankees shirt, Nike Livestrong running gloves, North Face ski gloves, Columbia dual layer ski jacket, scarf, and a awesome fleece hat I got at last year's Parks Half Marathon.  I might have weighed an extra 10-15 pounds with all the clothes, but I never once felt cold during the game!  Okay, the fleece blanket I had over my lap might have helped as well. 

Oh, let's have another rain delay to start the game late even though the field wasn't tarped. Sure, why not!

Finally, let's play ball! 

Andy Pettitte! One of the few remaining Yankee players from my childhood. 

Angel Hernandez was behind the plate. 'Nuff said. 

Derek Jeter! Derek Jeter! Derek Jeter!

Another packed house at Camden Yards.  I believe the Yard was at 104% occupancy. The standing room only sections were packed once again.

And the O's came back and won game two.  The hubs was pretty pleased about that one. 

I don't know if this will be the last baseball game the hubs and I go to this year. Obviously if the Yankees win the series it will be, but if the O's win then there's a chance we'll go to another game.  Orioles ALCS tickets sold out within seconds of going on sale to the general public and I don't know if I can stand up for an entire baseball game to buy standing room only tickets.  Run a marathon - yes. Stand up for four hours - I'll get back to you on that one.