Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Part V is here! See Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV here if you missed them.

This is likely the last installment of my pumpkin beer tasting series. I think it's appropriate that the pumpkin goodness ends right before Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are still appropriate people. Christmas trees... not so much, not until Friday anyway.

I am a firm believer (likely because my mom is this way) that Christmas doesn't start until after Thanksgiving. We have to give each holiday it's time to shine.

This year for Thanksgiving, I'm away from home. It's an odd feeling but also an exciting one as I'm in Naples, Florida meeting my soon-to-be family. Josh's Grandaddy is turning 80 and so his Dad's entire family is here to celebrate. Last night I met everyone for the first time and while I am still quizzing myself on names, It was really exciting.

I love people. I get such joy from meeting new face and learning new stories that I am in pig heaven meeting the Goldman clan. There is such a sense of warmth and familiarity when you are around a big family and even though I'm the newcomer they are giving me such a warm welcome.

I am thankful for many things this season, and my ever-growing family is one of them. :)


Tasting notes:
-Oh Sam, always so easy to drink
-Very pumpkin-y but not sweet pumpkin
-Lite and smooth, not bitter or too hoppy
-Tastes of squash and more savory than sweet
-I like it, nothing special but very pleasant


Tasting Notes
-Really nice flavor
-Very smooth and easy to drink
-Flavors of pumpkin but not too sweet
-Ginger and wheat on the aftertaste
-Nice flavors of pumpkin but very subtle
-I really like this one


Pumpkin Ale
Blue Point Brewing Company
Long Island, NY

Tasting Notes
-First taste was delicious
-Not too much pumpkin on the taste but very light and easy to drink
-Don't get me wrong, it's no Miller Lite, it's got flavor, but it won't fill you up
-More pumpkin and molasses on the finish
-Not saccharine sweet
-Hints of ginger and cinnamon
-Overall easy to drink and yummy

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This past Saturday, Josh and I had one of those rare and wonderful perfect days. This was before we got engaged so we were just chillin in with nothing to plan. 

We woke up early and walked up to the local movie theatre to see About Time. I picked this movie because it looked lovely. Josh picked this movie because Rachel McAdams looked lovely. And because he loves me.

This movie changed my life.

I know, I know... you are thinking, "Maureen, it's a chick flick. Simmer." But seriously, I would say that this movie may have stolen number one spot from Titanic and that is saying something!

The movie is adorable and you should all see it. I wept for the last 45 minutes of the movie, steadily. I just loved it. For whatever reason the film struck a chord in my soul as life sometimes randomly does and I just could not control my emotions. We sat in the theatre for about 15 minutes after the movie ended with me crying and Josh trying to figure out why. The best explanation I could give him was that I was just uncontrollably happy.

I felt this sense of calm and peace that I haven't really felt before. The moral of the movie is to make sure you enjoy each moment of your life because each one is a gift. And I guess I just felt it all at once; it was all coming full circle. I felt 100% sure that it was right to be dating Josh and not be in a rush (ironic since he proposed the next day). I felt happy with my job and grateful for my family and just really excited about life.

This week, I'm in Manhattan for three days of training to learn Final Cut Pro X for work. I've been seeing my friends and family while I'm here, and this morning as I was walking to the 2/3 train on the Upper West Side, I just felt really happy.

New York and I haven't always gotten along. Let's be honest, the day I moved out of the city a homeless man spit on me. ON ME. Inside of a Starbucks.


But today, I just couldn't help but notice the beauty of everything. As I walked along W. 70th street the buildings seemed friendly. A old man eating a breakfast sandwich waved at a little baby girl in a stroller and she waved back. I had a delightful conversation about the weather in DC v. NY with two men on the subway.

I don't know if NY has changed, or if I have changed but today there is joy. People are nice. Babies wave back. And the world is good.

Go see About Time and smile really big at the next person you see on the street. Because life is good.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


It is with deepest gratitude that I want to thank everyone for their warm wishes about our engagement.  I am overwhelmed with love and am so happy to be celebrating such a happy occasion.

It's pretty much awesome.

Now because I strive to be authentic, I will also let you all in on a little secret: It's also really stressful. Good stressful for the most part but man oh man I wasn't prepared haha. We have barely begun!

Josh and I are still trying to take a week before we start planning but that is hard. Our loved ones want to know when we are setting the date and as a Type A, planner-loving nerdsicle the idea that I don't know yet is driving me crazy.

There are many things that will need to be sorted before we can set a date. And I keep reminding myself that they will come in time, but this post is a reminder to myself not to forget why I'm so excited to get married.

This is why I am happy about being engaged. This face of the adorable man carving a pumpkin (the Halloween before we started dating) because he knew how much I loved the holiday and wanted to make it special for me. I get to marry the thoughtful man who left work early to drive through rush hour to buy me Hocus Pocus so I could watch it while we carved. And that is just one sweet memory out of countless.

And there it is, I'm swooning again. Phew!

I asked Josh to think of the five things that are the most important to him when it comes to our wedding. I am going to take some time to reflect and do the same. I want to make sure that before we get lost in both the joy and the stress of wedding logistics that we set intentions and priorities for ourselves. 

I don't want to miss this season of our life. I want to remember each moment. 

That sounds harder than planning a wedding. ;)

Thank you again for all of your kind words of congratulations. As I type this, I'm still staring at the ring.  Sorry I'm not sorry. It's just so pretty!

For those of you who are married already, please feel free to leave a comment with your words of advice. What was your favorite part about being engaged?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Forgive me if I have any typos in this post. I am wearing a gorgeous diamond ring that I can't stop looking at so I may get distracted and mistype. Yep, you heard me right... I'M ENGAGED!!!!!!!

It's so new that it doesn't even feel real. I am going to tell you the entire, long, beautiful story, so if that's more than you bargained for, feel free to just scroll down and look at the pictures. They're pretty good too. :)

My friends and family know how much Josh means to me but for those of you who weren't aware let me start with a few facts:

The Truth:
1. I had NO IDEA this was coming.
2. I was totally surprised.
3. I cried through practically the entire engagement (read: night).
4. I never really believed that I could be this happy.
5. I am so very blessed. I cannot thank God enough for working a miracle on my heart and in my life. This is exactly as it is supposed to be. This is perfect. And I am SO HAPPY.

Ok, let's start at the very beginning.

The Back Story (Abridged)
About a month or so ago, Josh and I got letters in the mail from The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA). I've done three shows with LTA and this is where Josh and I met while doing a production of Oliver! in October 2010.

The letter was from our friend Rachel, who produced Oliver! and heads the marketing department at the theatre. Let's just say the letter made me super excited - LTA was doing a focus group on the evening of November 10th with a few select participants to discuss the direction of the theatre next season. The gist was, they wanted me to come to the theatre, have a catered dinner, and discuss what shows LTA should do in the coming years to ensure it was staying current and artistically sound. It was right up my alley. I RSVP'd yes, crossed it off my to-do list, put it on my calendar, and threw out the letter.

A month went by and I didn’t think much of the focus group event. Josh brought it up a couple of times but it was always in passing. I continued to go about my life, go to work and eat delicious food. Business as usual.

The Big Day
Sunday, November 10th came and it seemed like any other day. We went to church, ran some errands, I got the new iPhone, and we watched some TV while we ate a late breakfast. I had a bunch of things to do in the afternoon and evening and Josh was going to watch football with his dad, so he left and I rushed to get ready. I’m usually behind and Sunday was no exception.

For this next part, I want to be careful to paint this mental picture so it's accurate. Picture me, standing on a chair in my hall closet, running late and trying to find an iPhone case that I bought a few months ago (read: buried somewhere). I was stressed and rummaging. Additionally, since I had just gotten the phone and didn’t have a case on it, I was keeping it in the box at all times (read: thank goodness I’m a girl and carry a purse so my phone in a box wasn’t as awkward as it could have been). As I was deep into the closet, my box phone started ringing (it was Josh). As I balanced on the chair, I took the box out of my purse, took the lid off the box and put the box with the phone (on speaker) sitting in it on the shelf in the closet while I continued to rummage.

The conversation went a little like this (note: I am fussy and Josh is super sweet in this conversation. Also, my cursing has been edited. Whoops.):

M: Hi. What is it? I'm running late and I can't talk right now.
J: Hi honey, I just got a text from Rachel and she said since LTA is catering dinner tonight that we probably shouldn't wear jeans.
M: What? Are you freaking kidding me?
J: It's ok just we--
M: (interrupting) Honey, no. I’m already wearing jeans. This is ridiculous. I can't believe how unprofessional this is. They didn’t put anything about a dress code in the letter.
J: Take a deep breath. I know you’re stressed. Can you just grab a dress and you can change later?
M: I don't want to wear a dress!

I will spare you the rest of this conversation because it's embarrassing for me how hilariously upset I got about jeans. I eventually I grabbed a dress, got in the car, and called Josh to apologize for being so upset at him when he didn't do anything wrong.

That afternoon, dress in tow, I went to see my mom, went to see my Grandpa (where I put on the rando dress I grabbed and my make-up), and went to have drinks with my friend Maria before the meeting at LTA.

After we finished dinner / drinks and I walked back to my car to put my leftovers in it (I had only eaten half a sandwich because I knew LTA was catering dinner) and then continued walking the few blocks to the theatre.

About thirty seconds before walking into the door I had this thought: "What if this is all a big joke and Josh is proposing?" NO JOKE! I have no idea why this popped into my mind when it did but then (because I had been thinking this thought every time something romantic happened for the past few months) I thought, "No Maureen. It's a meeting. He said he needed more time. Six months to a year."

Right as I walked up to the door, I had one last thought of, "Well if the door is locked I will know something is up and maybe is Josh proposing." Again, I should emphasize, I don't know where these thoughts even came from. They were completely out of the blue!

But I walked right up to the door of the theatre and it was open. So, I went inside to get to my meeting. Or so I thought…

The Proposal
When I walked into the building Rachel was standing in the lobby. She gave me a big hug, said she was running a bit late, and told me to head into the main theatre and that we would get started in a second.

I opened the doors from the lobby and stepped into the theatre. It was completely empty. No people, no noise, no nothing. The house lights were out. The stage was lit. There were candles in mason jars lining the aisle in front of me. And I knew. I knew what was happening. I immediately burst into tears.

To try to explain what I was feeling is almost impossible. I was so caught off guard that I didn't know what I was feeling. My adrenaline started racing, I was crying and I just wanted to see Josh. But he wasn't anywhere that I could see.

Right at the entrance where I was standing was a music stand with a letter on it. It said "Read me. Use this flashlight." So I picked up the flashlight and read the letter from Josh. In it, he reassured me that everything was ok and that it was ok that I was probably crying and overwhelmed. He told me to take a deep breath, that he loved me, and that when I was ready to walk down to the front row. There was something for me to watch. He also had a pack of tissues there for me. Let's just say, I needed those.

I eventually gathered myself and walked to the front row of the theatre. I took off my coat and scarf so that I wouldn't look like a homeless woman and sat in a seat in the front row that said, "Sit here". Next to the seat was an iPad and headphones with instructions on what to do next. So I sat and watched the short film Josh had made for me about our life together.

There were clips and pictures of us meeting, us becoming friends, and us dating. I cried and laughed through the whole thing. It’s hard to describe so I want to share it with you here!

Also, during the entire proposal our friend Traci was photographing everything. I've worked with Traci before and Josh hired her to capture the event. Because he is perfect.

When the film finished, I looked up and Josh was standing on stage in front of me. At this point I started to cry harder. Josh said something like, "Honey, it's ok. Come here," and brought me on stage with him. This is where it all gets a little fuzzier because I was shaking so much. Josh was starting to cry and his hands were shaking. He told me he loved me and that he wanted to take care of me, spend his life with me and make me happy even when it was hard. Because we know it will be tough sometimes and that’s ok because he wants to do it with me.

Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

He was so cute. He started to go down on his right knee and then switched to his left. When he looked up at me I couldn't see the ring or his shaking hands or anything except his beautiful face.

I said, "yes!", cried more (typical!), he put the ring on my finger, we kissed, took pictures, kissed some more and drank champagne on the stage. Where we met. Three years ago.

It was perfect.

The State of Shock
After we started to calm down I cried on Rachel and Traci for a bit and kept talking about how shocked I was and how grateful I am for Josh in my life. Then we packed up the candles and the champagne and the flowers, dropped them off in my car and then Josh told me he had made dinner reservations for us at Columbia Firehouse.

This little pub is where Josh and I used to go almost every night after rehearsals for Oliver! When we were first getting to know each other and becoming friends, we would sit in their booths and share some beer and fries and talk for hours.

It was perfect that he wanted to go there so we headed over. When he opened the door for me and I walked in some of our parents and some friends who live in the area were there screaming congratulations. I burst into tears all over again (are you sensing a trend?).

I. Am. So. Blessed.

The rest of the night was spent drinking champagne, hugging loved ones who who were there, calling loved ones who were at home and generally squealing and staring at my beautiful ring (which Josh designed himself).

And when we finally left, he called me his fiancée for the first time and I couldn't help but laugh with how excited that makes me and how surreal it sounds.

Life is not a fairytale. I will be the first to tell you that. Sometimes things happen to us that hurt or test or challenge.

Life is better than a fairytale. Because life is real. I can reach out and touch Josh's face. He is really in my life. I would go through the entire prologue of hurts and tests and challenges again just to get to this moment. This perfect, real moment that we will share for the rest of our lives. 

I am marrying the man I love. And I am so excited to savor each and every moment of our journey together.

And because I can't stop staring at it, here's one more of the ring. You know, just for good measure. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013


Last Saturday my Grandpa turned eighty-seven. The fact that he has been on this earth for eighty-seven years is simply amazing to me. Think of all the friends he has made, the food he has tried, the places he has been, and the family he has loved.

This year was extra special as his birthday was on a Saturday and my family from New York was able to come down. Grandpa had three out of four children and six out of ten grandchildren there. And as an extra birthday present, my cousin Jenny has the first great-grandchild on the way.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

We dined at Grandpa's favorite Irish Pub, The Auld Shebeen, and the owner (complete with Irish accent) kept the whiskey coming. The food was delicious and the company was grand. We even got a few of Grandpa's famous rhymes that he says when he's really happy. Anyone else know The Night That Paddy Murphy Died? My whole family knows it by heart.

After dinner we went back to Grandpa's apartment in a beautiful retirement community and had cake and presents. Mom made Grandpa's favorite: Angel Food cake. And she brought fresh whipped cream and strawberries. That's right, when you are 87, you get to blow out the candles twice!

Please look at that face! He is the MOST excited!

Living near Grandpa is one of the many blessings about being in the D.C.-area for me. I am so happy Josh and I got to help him celebrate.

It also made me think about all of the wonderful things that one can do when she is 87. Here are my top five reasons why turning eighty-seven will be awesome.

  • You can eat and drink as much as you want. Heck, you're 87, you must have done something right all these years!
  • You have a ton of family all around you that will help you do whatever you need. I never liked putting on my own jacket or holding doors anyway.
  • Silver hair looks damn fine. No more dying it or worrying, just embrace it, because you are 87 and awesome.
  • It's your party and you don't have to entertain anyone. I often feel like I have to make sure everyone else is having a good time and an event that I host. By the time I'm 87, I plan to just let my guests worry about themselves.
  • You can say whatever you want. No need to be super polite, your family will love you anyway. In fact, they will probably think your uncensored opinions are nuggets of sacred information. Jackpot!

All jokes aside, I am so happy to have celebrated eighty-seven with my Grandpa. And I can't wait for eighty-eight. Happy Birthday Grandpa, I love you.

Linking up today, too!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


To celebrate two years of dating, Josh and I decided to focus on creativity for our gifts instead of price. We made this decision because we have quite a few occasions where we give each other gifts and didn't want to feel like we need to be extravagant every time. So, for those holidays where we are both giving a gift at the same time (i.e., Anniversary, Christmas, and Valentine's Day), we will be setting a spending limit. For our birthdays however, we can get each other whatever we want. We figured this would be a good way to allow one fancy present each year (when only one of us is giving) and the rest will be moderately priced and very thoughtful.

So for our anniversary, we set the amount of $25 that we were allowed to spend on each other. We determined the amount about one month ahead of time to allow for adequate planning. The rules were that we could use anything we already had in our apartments and not include that in the cost, but anything we purchased had to stay under $25. It was quite the challenge!

I decided early-on that I wanted to make Josh something. I thought this would be a good way to cut costs and stay within my budget while also investing my time and creativity to convey how much he means to me. After some careful Pinterest browsing, I fell in love with the idea of sewing him a picnic blanket.

Josh brings out the adventure in me and we love to hike and travel and be outside (when it's nice) so I liked this idea because it meant something more than just being practical (though it's that too!). When I saw this blanket, I knew that was the one I would try to make. Unfortunately there was no pattern to follow, so I made it up.

If you want to make one too, here is how I did it step-by-step. It took about an hour of fabric shopping and about four hours of figuring out the sewing machine and actual sewing. I think it turned out really well, and Josh liked it a lot... well worth the time. Plus all the materials were only $24.86! Right on budget. ;)

DIY Picnic Blanket
You will Need:
  • 2 yards of fabric for side A (Note: the fabric at the store where I purchased it was about 3.5 feet wide and 2 yards is about 6 feet long.)
  • 2 yards of fabric for side B
  • 2 yards of strap material
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread in a coordinating color to your fabric
  • Sewing pins (can be reused for multiple projects)
  • Needle (for hand sewing on details if you desire)
  • Batting (I bought some on sale. It was polyesther and much larger than I needed, I cut it down to match the blanket. If you have a larger budget, the woman at the store recommended cotton batting as it may wash better)

Step 1: Clear your work space.
You need a solid, clean surface. I used my kitchen table as it's marble (Thanks Dad and Patti for letting me have it!) but I made sure to wipe it down first. You don't want any leftover breakfast on your blanket.

Step 2: Iron your fabric.
I almost skipped this step. Because I'm lazy. But then I remembered this was a gift and I didn't want it to look jankety. So I ironed it. Yes, it took about 20 minutes. Do it anyway. It's good to get the wrinkles out before you start and it will make the blanket look more professional. 

Step 3: Match up your fabric with front sides facing each other.
At this point you are going to put the outsides facing in and match up the corners. This way you can sew around the edges and then flip it inside out to have a pretty seam. Line up the first corner (you can always trim away extra fabric later if they aren't the exact same size).  

Step 4: Cut and finish your straps.
You have two yards of straps. Simply cut them into four equal pieces. Since mine were synthetic, I took a lighter and swiftly singed the edges to keep them from fraying. After burning they are just a bit hard on the end and will be durable.

Step 5: Pin your straps for sewing.
Working from the first corner you lined up pin the first side. You want to place the pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. Just make sure you go through both pieces to hold them together. As you begin to sew you will remove the pins and then use them again on the next side.

When you get to the location you want the straps to be (this is the tricky part... think about how many times you will fold your blanket before rolling it up - I said two , so I placed the two sets of straps in one quadrant of the blanket) pin each set on top of each other to the bottom fabric. Then pin the top fabric over top. You will in effect be sewing the straps to the inside of the blanket (which is really the outside). This will make sense when you flip it right-side out. 

Also, this took me like 12 tries and test flipping it in and out before I understood the placement. :)

Step 6: Set-up your sewing machine.
It looks innocent enough, but this is the step where I had to pour a glass of wine. I was all pinned and ready to go and the sewing machine took a few tries. First it wasn't starting. Then the bobbin wasn't threaded properly. Very complicated, but worth the effort. 

I used this tutorial on how to wind a bobbin and this one on joining the threads to get myself going. Please picture me under my table (because I couldn't get the arm of the sewing machine off) trying to figure out the bobbin in a full sweat. Now please laugh. 

Once you have it set up. Take a sip of wine, you deserve it.

Step 7: Sew sides one and two.
With the machine set up you are ready to sew! Sew side one (simple stitch) and remember to sew one inch, reverse, and then sew that inch again at both ends of the side. When side one is done, pin and sew side two. 

Be sure to stop and take an, "I'm sewing!" picture in between. ;)

Step 8: Add detail and sew sides three and four (leave about 18 inches open on side four).
I chose to add a J to the black side of the blanket in the plaid pattern. To execute this I drew a J in Sharpie on some of the extra fabric (the two pieces were different sizes so I had like two inches of plaid left on the last side), and had sewed it to the fabric.

If you are hand sewing it, you can just trace the letter normally (not mirror image) and sew it right on top. Note: This was "inside" from how I was sewing it since the side of the fabric I wanted to end-up on the outside was on the inside until I sewed all four sides and flipped it.

With detail in place, sew side three and sew side MOST OF side four. LEAVE 18 INCHES OPEN (read: don't sew that part) so you can flip the blanket inside out.

Step 9: Flip fabric inside out and cut batting to match blanket size.
Ok, everything is ready. Flip it, flip it good. Just turn it inside out. Then unwrap your batting and cut it to be the exact size of the blanket. This part was terrifying as it's hard to manage. Be strong young warrior, you can do it!

Step 10: Fit batting into blanket.
Shove the batting (now cut) into the blanket shell. This is an annoying step because the batting is finicky but be persistent until it is in and laying flat. It's exactly the same thing as putting a down blanket into a duvet cover. Match up the corners first and work from there. 

Step 11: Close seam on side four and sew batting into place.
Carefully pin the opening in side four closed and sew it together. Be gentle here, this part will be visible. Then go down each side about two inches in from the edge and sew the batting into place. You are basically sewing a slightly smaller rectangle inside the outer seams. 

Step 12: Fold blanket and marvel at your handiwork.
You are so wonderful and talented! You just made a blanket! And it stays together and is so cute!!! You go!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I love pumpkin flavored anything. It's no secret. Here's the next installment of the pumpkin beer tasting series. And if you missed them, Part I, Part II, and Part III.


Pumpkin Ale
Utica, NY

Tasting notes:
-Really like this one
-Nice and light and fluffy and fresh
-Taste the pumpkin and spices right off the bat
-I taste hints of cinnamon and cloves and light ginger
-A bit of citrus in there
-Could drink more than one of these not too heavy


Imperial Pumpking
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Lakewood, NY

Tasting notes:
-Light in color
-Butter and warm flavors right on the first taste
-Doesn't taste quite like pumpkin more like butternut squash
-There is almost a toasted coconut taste at the beginning of each sip
-I think it could actually be like a yellow cake kind of flavor
-Kettle corn... maybe it's kettle corn
-Overall I like it but it's a bit strong and not as pumpkin-y as I wanted
-I think I may be more harsh on this one because everyone told me I would love it
-Interesting, but I couldn't have more than one
-It was hard to finish actually


Pumpkin Wheat
Anheuser Busch
St. Louis, MO

Tasting notes
Josh says "This tastes like pure pumpkin." ... but he didn't drink the rest of it. And then he said, "I guess  I don't like pumpkin beer."

My thoughts:
-I actually really like this one
-It's very mild, not strong at all and very autumnal
-Pretty sure I say that about all of these...
-This one has a strong pumpkin flavor
-Not sweet but smooth
-Easy to drink (not surprising with Shock Top) and I could have more than one and not feel sick
-A little bit of orange and cherry in this one


Gruntled Pumpkin Ale
RJ Rockers Brewery
Spartanburg, SC

Tasting Notes:
-Very smooth with a bit of spice on the finish
-Hints of pumpkin and squash
-Almost citrus-y as an aftertaste
-Not super heavy but not a lite beer, nice consistency
-Orange, cinnamon, and cloves
-Not very sweet at all, more natural tasting
-I like this one and could have more than one without feeling too full or sick from sugar


Pumpkin Ale
Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, NY

Tasting Notes:
-"Mmmm that's good." -Josh
-A little sweet with a spicy kick
-Tastes like an octoberfest but not that much like pumpkin
-Flavors of ginger and cloves
-It is not overwhelmingly pumpkin but uses the pumpkin as a means of spice
7.5 / 10

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