eve of the new year

Tonight, you will not find my husband and I at an overpriced, crowded New Years Eve party in Philadelphia with crappy champagne and cold hors d'oeuvres (yes, I had to google how to spell that).

Nor will you find us sweaty, exhausted and moving boxes to our new apartment like we were last year.

We made reservations at a fabulous new Indian-Thai bistro in West Chester called Spice. We're gonna spice up the new year, woo hoo! I'm a little excited, can you tell? Their menu is divine and they're also BYOB. My favorite! I'm bringing a great bottle of red wine that a co-worker gave me (an '04 from Sonoma Valley, sounds expensive) and we're getting dressed up all fancy pants to go out! Yay!

Us, fancy pants, October 2010

Instead of counting down to 2011 at a crappy local bar filled with slutty girls and Situation-wannabes, we're planning on relaxing in our quaint backyard around the new fire pit. Maybe some friends will stop by. Maybe we'll make s'mores. Definitely bundling up. But not TOO much, since it's going to be a "warm" December night. Only a low in the mid-30's. Hey, I'll take it.

Tim's favorite Christmas present, besides me.

Quaint is my way of saying uber small & cramped.


perfect salmon

I made salmon last night for me & Tim... and it was AMAZINGGG. When we were eating I had the biggest smile on my face because it was perfectly cooked and little things like that make me happy.

Here's what you do...

1) Buy fresh salmon - cook it the same day you buy it. I used 8 oz. steaks from Wegman's.
2) Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
3) Drizzle the bottom of a baking dish with a little EVOO.
4) On whatever they were wrapped up in, drizzle one side of your salmon steaks with a little EVOO and rub it in with your fingers. (Ew, you have to touch fish, I know, get over it, that's what real cooks do.)
5) Sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic powder and whatever other spice you want. We used curry 'cause we're on a curry-kick lately.  Repeat this process with the other side of the salmon.
6) Now, here comes the fancy part. You're going to get a frying pan HOT (add EVOO if it's stainless) and you're going to sear your steaks on each side for about 30 seconds. GO.
7) After you sear them to lock in all that salmony goodness, transfer to the baking dish and pop them in the oven for 15 minutes - uncovered.

Then, prepare your sides! You could do a nice side salad & cous cous. I did some simple sauted veggies (leeks, onions & carrots) in the same pan that I seared the salmon in. Then drizzled 2 rounds of Naan with EVOO, sprinkled with garlic powder, and heated them in the oven for the last 3 minutes of the salmon cook time.

Salmon seems hard, but it's so easy & cooks up quick! Experiment with different seasonings and glazes (honey-mustard, anyone?) and people will think you're a pro.


new years resolutions

I don't believe in them. There, I said it. People always abuse the 1st of the year and act like they're going to make a change, and then after a month or so, it falls flat. If you really want to make significant changes in your life, start immediately. You don't have to make a grand statement to the world or post your resolution on Facebook. You don't even have to tell anyone. Just do it.

One subject that always comes up during resolution season is getting organized. But I'm not sure people really know what this means when they say it because most people (to me) are not organized. If your kitchen counter has more than 2 piles of papers on it, you're not organized. If your pile of junk mail hasn't been touched in a month, you're not organized. If you pay your bills late, you're not organized. If you're late to appointments or forget about them all together, you're not organized.
Over the weekend I was feeling out of sorts. Whenever I feel like this, it means I need to start purging. Not what I ate, but my stuff. We got married a little over 2 weeks ago. Gift receipts, appliance manuals, wedding cards... they were piling up and irritating the heck out of me. Not to mention all the things you have to think about when two people join their lives together. Combining car insurance, bank accounts, bills... it gets overwhelming. So naturally, I did what I do best. I googled a few things and started planning to get organized. I didn't tell my friends and family, Hey guess what! My new years resolution is to get organized! and then wait until January 1st rolled around. I just did it.

I found the idea for a command central binder on Simplify 101 which I cleverly titled The Big Binder of Important Stuff.

Then I gathered the materials: large 3 ring binder, divider tabs, business card holders & plastic sheet protectors. Yep, that's all you need!

Then... I faced my pile of stuff (which was actually more daunting than these photos portray, since I didn't capture the enormous accordion file that was my previous, and poorly working, organization system).

I made a pile for shredding, had a trashcan next to me, and I separated the stuff I wanted to keep into piles on the kitchen table.
  • Receipts (big ticket items)
  • Cars (insurance, our titles, maintenance records)
  • Health (insurance info, articles about nutrition)
  • Life (birth & marriage certificates, SS cards)
  • Finances (bank statements, taxes, loans)
  • Lacrosse (stuff pertaining to my side job as a ref)
  • Apartment (our lease, security deposit receipts)
  • Coupons (I'm not a BIG coupon person, but I use them occasionally)
  • Emergency (contacts, doctor & hospital info)
  • Upcoming (events, renewals)
If your categories only make sense to you, don't sweat it. This is for your personal use. If things can go into two different categories, make an executive decision. Remember, if everything important is in one binder, you don't have to look far to find what you need. Simplify 101 also pointed out that this binder will change as your life changes. As you have kids, change jobs, buy a house... add new tabs, revise where things go & allow your system to progress with you.

One great section for Moms to have is information for babysitters, including emergency numbers for doctors/poison control, take-out menus, rules of the house, specific instructions for bedtime, any medicines your children are taking, etc.

Isn't organization the most fun ever!? It gives me a natural high. Yep, I'm really weird.


new friends

"Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver & the other gold."

I remember singing that song when I was in Brownies. New friends are truly a blessing, which is why I was so surprised & excited to receive this heartfelt e-mail out of the blue this morning.


I know that you will be surprise at receipt of this e-mail from me to you. I don’t know how you will react after reading this e-mail to you, but I do hope that it makes sense to you and it meat favorably to your attention.

First I am Tina O’Brian from the Republic of Seychelles. I am lady, My aim of writing you is for us to be friends a distance friend and from there we can take this to next level, I write this with the purest of intentions and I do hope that it meets with your attention, what I seek here is a friend that will understand me and I will understand you and together be perfect friends. I am not a player and do not seek a player too.

Please reply back as I have hope that I will hear from you soon.

Thank you for your time.

Tina O’Brian   
I mean, how wonderful is that? She is #1 a lady. #2 she has the purest intentions. And #3 she is not a player, AND does not seek one. I mean, you just don't encounter people of this caliber on a daily basis. I think Tina O'Brian and I can forge a friendship that will last a lifetime.   


a wine-wine situation

Or is it a wine-wine-wine situation? Either way, it's gonna be a VERY Merry Christmas!

The upside to having multiple bosses at work...


Merry Christmas from Us... JibJab Style

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

monday morning miracle: dry shampoo

If you haven't already heard, dry shampoo is the new black. It's all I've been hearing about. Oh, you have to buy some. Buy some? Me? I don't think so. My life motto is slowly becoming why buy what you can make?

Scenario: You have an iPhone that's supposed to be the best invention ever. You rely on this piece of technology for pretty much everything, including your alarm clock. You set the alarm the night before for 6:45 am (not pm, definitely am, you double check this setting). You open your eyes and your husband is out of the shower. Dressed. Drinking coffee. Getting his coat on. %@#&! It's 7:30! You leave for work at 8!
If your hair is super greasy like mine, you HAVE to wash it everyday. Like, you feel completely disgusting leaving the house without washing it. Gross. Dirty. Homeless. Shameful.

Normally, upon realizing that I woke up late, I'd rush around like a maniac trying to squeeze my normal hour morning routine into 30 minutes. I'd forget to pack a lunch, put on mascara (which is slowly becoming as important to me as oxygen) and be completely frazzled by the time I got to work (late).

However... this was not the case this morning! I woke up at 7:30, cursed, then had an idea. While I don't actually own dry shampoo, I read a handy little tutorial a few weeks ago on how to make your own. Furthermore, since I didn't have time to throw four ingredients together, I just used one. AND. IT. WORKED.

Baking Soda. Sprinkled on my scalp. Rubbed in. Brushed out. TA-DA! I don't look like a vagrant.

And when I get home, I'm making the real deal & storing it in a parmesan cheese shaker. Genius.

Photo from http://www.petitelefant.com/

bake-fest 2010

I caught a serious case of housewife fever this weekend. What else could have possessed me to bake ALL WEEKEND LONG? Let me tell you, baking looks way more fun on TV when there are producers and assistants to measure out your ingredients and put them in little glass bowls. It's probably also more fun when you're not lactose intolerant. Whomp whommmmp.

Baking is WORK... not fun. My back hurts, my feet hurt, my kitchen floor is now filthy (more-so than it was to begin with) and now I have a kitchen table stacked with treats that don't even look appetizing to me anymore. I may have to steal my BFF Jackie's chinese take-out box idea and start filling them for random neighbors & friends.

I made...
Crispy Peanut Butter Eggs (they're covered in chocolate... mmm)
Sugar Cut-out Cookies (not a fan of the recipe I found online, should have used my Mom's!)

Tim was on sprinkle duty

Fruits of my slave labor

After Bake-Fest 2010 on Saturday afternoon, we had our first "ugly sweater" Christmas Party to attend at the apartment of our newly engaged friends (yay, Sheri & Matt!) Tim entertained people with Matt's guitar (his guitar's twin) and I drank wayyyy too much egg nogg.

Yes, I know we're not wearing ugly sweaters. Believe it or not, Goodwill & Sal Val were completely sold out. We did our best, get off my back!

On Sunday, we drove to the classiest part of Pennsylvania for the annual Taylor Christmas Party where we have the biggest pollyanna gift exchange in history, a visit from Santa, and an endless buffet of food & desserts. I won't be hungry until tomorrow. On a side note, Tim really wanted to stop into this automotive shop for an application but they weren't hiring. Bummer :-/

And guess who still needs to get presents for her husband? This girl.



negative nellies

Debbie Downer, Negative Nelly, Pessimistic Pete... whatever you want to call them, they're super annoying and unfortunately don't just exist in Saturday Night Live skits.

I've come across so many people like this recently and they're each unique in their negativism. Let's discuss.
Whomp whommmmmmmmp
First there's the person who repeats all the negative things they saw in the news that day. We all see the news, it's mostly terrible, I don't need to hear about it again and how one time, the same thing happened to your neighbor's boss. Ex) "Did you see in the news about the guy who murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself? That's so awful." Hey, top 'o the morning to you too. Thanks for sharing that with me at 8:30 am on a Monday. My week is now off to a great start...

Second, let's explore the negative chain e-mail forwarder. Ex) Subject Line: LADIES, URGENT! READ THIS IMMEDIATELY! Body of E-mail: "There's a new wave of criminals who disguise themselves as mail carriers and they then gain access to your mailboxes, find out your personal information, steal your identity and then murder you so the police can't identify your body!" Yes, there are evil people in this world. Our mothers taught us to keep our heads on a swivel, carry mace & be cautious at night, especially when driving. Women are inferior, weak creatures who need the protection of a man and shouldn't go out after dark without fearing the worst. However, there is probably a better chance of getting hit by a car crossing the street than becoming the victim of a serial killer. How about an e-mail about the dangers of jay-walking? That would be a lot more relevant and handy, don't you think?

Third, let's talk about the "unrealistic fear" guy or gal. We received a super cool digital crock pot as a wedding gift. I tell a co-worker about this neat gift and she starts going off about how she's heard that crock pots start house fires and that's why she will only cook with one while she's home (nevermind that this completely defeats the purpose of a crock pot). Okay, maybe someone left their Crock Pot on for 24 hours and it burnt their countertop... but a full on house fire? Once again, this is a case of "it's probably more likely that you'll die of the bird flu than have your house burned down by a crock pot." This same co-worker also unplugs every appliance, lamp, electrical device, etc. before leaving the house. I guesstimate that they've probably spent a total of 1 year of their life JUST unplugging and replugging electrical cords. Looney tunes if you ask me.

So to all the Debbies, Nellies & Petes out there... for the sake of Christmas and this most joyous holiday season... give everyone a freaking break, will ya?!


married life

To steal a Thursday ritual from Sydney (who I'm creepily pretending to be on a first name basis with, when actually, I'm just obsessed with her blog) here are the awkward & awesome things about being JUST MARRIED.


1) Not being able to deposit checks into my own bank account since most of our guests wrote checks out to "Mr. & Mrs. Tim Annan" and I didn't legally change my name yet.

2) Having rude bank tellers ask me "You just got married on Saturday? Why aren't you on your honeymoon?" First, my husband has a new job with no vacation days. Second, Christmas is coming up. Third, not everyone takes a honeymoon. Fourth, it's none of your business!

3) Having the same rude bank tellers say to me, "Is that the nail color you wore for your wedding? That's interesting..." Is this a bank or an 8th grade girls' lunch table? Awkward.

4) Being asked the same question over & over again by co-workers. So what's it like being married? There is literally no answer to that. It's pretty much the same as being engaged, except now we both wear rings, and our kitchen is too small to fit all the small appliances we received as gifts. (I think we single-handedly gave Cuisinart's holiday sales a boost, they're welcome.)

5) Signing my new last name for the first time on a cover letter at work. Annan. I just write a big fancy cursive A and then scribble the rest.

6) Being asked how to pronounce my new last name, even though it's a 5 letter word that consists of 2 letters. Emphasis on the A, not the N. "AH-nan" not "aNAN". I'll be explaining that for the rest of my life! But it's worth it :-)


1) We kiss more, hug more, giggle more, cuddle more & are just all-around happier!

2) We were blessed with very generous gifts from our family & friends. Like so blessed it took 20 minutes, a pen, piece of paper, calculator and both of our brains to add up all that generosity. Then I fanned it out and danced around like I was in a rap music video. Wish I was kidding...

3) I got more bling on my finger. You think you don't care about diamonds until you own some. And then you want more... and more... and more.

4) We are more patient & understanding with each other. Maybe it's that married bliss stage, but we've been together for 4 1/2 years, and I think we've finally learned to pick our battles & not stress over the little things.

5) Being able to say "Oh hey, check engine light! I married a mechanic. You don't scare me anymore!"

6) Sitting here... watching the snow fall outside. And thanking God that it was a beautiful day for our wedding and the rain/snow held off. We were able to get pictures outside, and our guests were able to get to & from the wedding safely. Now I can sing "Let It Snow" and mean it!

7) The fact that my WONDERFUL boss gifted us a weekend trip to his vacation home in Miami Beach. Included? Airfare, beach club, cabana, breakfast, lunch, drinks & the keys to 2 cars. Nicest. guy. ever. Let the countdown to January 28th commence!


introducing the new mr. & mrs.

December 11, 2010... The day I married my best friend & became Mrs. Tim Annan! Or Megan Taylor Annan... I'm still transitioning, okay? I kind of can't bear the thought of dropping Taylor completely because it's such a solid, classic name. Maybe we'll name one of our kids Taylor and then I'll be able to say it/write it/think it on a daily basis. Win-win.

Quick Wedding Review

Weather: mid-40's, partly cloudy
Church: warm, bright, candle-lit, festive
Bride: retro-styled, shakey, excited
Groom: devilishly handsome, anxious, ready
Vows: meaningful, traditional, powerful
Guests: supportive, teary-eyed, ready-to-party!
Reception: classy, simple, tasty, joyful
After-Party: loose, loud, lots of laughter
Overall: smooth, heartfelt, planned, perfect

We're anxiously awaiting our professional photos, but until then, check out the album I threw together on our wedding website of photos our friends snapped.

Like every bride says, it goes by so quickly! And yes, all the planning, thousands of e-mails, stress & mini-breakdowns were worth it. To everyone who was a part of our wedding day... we can't thank you enough.


Ruche Giveaway! Check it...

One of my most favorite bloggers, Sydney at The Daybook, has a fabulous giveaway going on right now. Drop what your doing & check it out!

Click Here to Enter!

$50 to Ruche could get you the...
Watch Me Shine Sequin Dress

Midnight Sky Clutch

Float On By Butterfly Dress

Uh, I'll take one of everything, thanks!

dig it: solid-colored wrapping paper

Looking at a display of Christmas wrapping paper in a store hurts my eyes. I'm sick of the same old snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees, Santa Claus faces & reindeer silhouette designs. The appearance is especially offensive when they're all jumbled together in a pile of gifts.

It's time to simplify gift wrap.

Monochromatic wrapping paper & gift bags are my new favs. I scored a pack of 13 brown paper gift bags at Michael's for $6.00 and splurged a little on a couple rolls of wrapping paper from Paper Source (black & red). Adding real ribbon will make your gifts POP, and the ribbon is reusable! I'm thinking as hair accessories for my nieces.

Photo from Petit Elefant

If you want to "reduce, reuse & recycle" (ya dang hippie) you can save brown paper grocery bags throughout the year and use them to wrap gifts... school book style. Or just go to the grocery store and grab a handful when your cashier isn't looking. What? Who said that? Not me.

An alternative to reusing brown paper bags is to invest in a giant roll of white or brown butcher paper. You can find this at your local craft or teacher supply store. Or online... You'll drop $30-$40 but one roll could easily last you through multiple holiday seasons (as well as weddings & birthdays).

Still in the mood to recycle something? Make bows out of magazine pages. They'll add some pizazz to your solid-colored gifts. I went to town on an Elle magazine last month and made about 20 of them. It's highly addictive and my back was hurting afterwards from hunching over at the kitchen table, but they are so freakin' adorable and I couldn't stop.

And whatever you do, don't be a regifter or a degifter.


weekend wrap-up: o' tannenbaum


Left work early to do some grocery shopping, cleaned the apartment & got ready for our family to come over for a little pre-Christmas parade party.

Most of the fam came over around 6pm, minus a few who were either getting or getting over the terrible stomach flu that's been going around. We had some food & drinks then bundled up for the parade. While it dropped to a low of 29 degrees that night, we watched what seemed like every high school marching band from the tri-state area. 

Best band: West Chester University
Biggest band: Downingtown East & West (who are headed to the Rose Bowl)
Band with the most rhythm: Cheyney University

Mixed in were lots of classic cars, ethnic dance groups, fire engines, random clowns on motorized scooters, baton twirlers, Phil & April Margera, girl scout troops and of course... SANTA!! "I know him... I know him!" (Buddy the Elf)


Tim was still getting over his chest/head cold (with the help of a new secret weapon, colloidal silver) and there was a Harry Potter marathon on TV... so guess what he did all day?

I'll admit, I did watch some HP, but I can't sit still for long, so I did some cleaning & got our guest room ready for Jackie & Jay who get into town this Thursday. And by get ready, I just mean move all of our wedding/Christmas gifts to the storage closet.


We dragged ourselves out of bed bright & early to go to church (Calvary Lutheran) since Grace & Caroline were singing in the kids choir, which was adorable, obviously. Then we learned about Chrismons in the sermon, took communion (breakfast) and headed home. It was a nice day and Tim was feeling a heck of a lot better, so we decided we better get our Christmas tree before the crazyness of wedding weekend ensued. $45.00 and 7 feet later and we have a gorgeous sparkling tree in our living room! Let the holiday season begin!

Oh, and I made the most random dinner ever. A whole roasted artichoke, steamed carrots, sweet potato fries and leftover turkey with gravy. Say whaaat? I don't even know, but it hit the spot.

7 foot tree in the Integra... who would have thought?

Out of the shot is the vacuum cleaner standing ready.

Ooooh. Ahhhh.


artsy fartsy

Props to whoever came up with that phrase. My mom would always say it when I was growing up and I still think it's hilarious. Fart. Hehehe.

Okay, more about weddings. Sorry, I can't help it! 8 days left until I'm married and then I'll shut up already.

In addition to all the amazing wedding photos our apartment will be adorned with in the near future, I keep finding tons of cool wedding/marriage-themed wall art that I just adore.

Classic Wedding Paintings

"Signing the Wedding Registry," Edmund Leighton


I don't know what this one is called! A co-worker e-mailed it to me.

Art Prints

By theloveshop on Etsy (8x10)

By fancyprints on Etsy (11x14)

By senterstudios on Etsy (multiple photos of every letter available, the idea being to spell out your new last name!)

 Wedding gifts to myself? Don't mind if I do!



I'm really excited to be getting married for a number of reasons. I love Tim, we're meant to be together, he's my best friend, etc. But let's be honest, I'm especially excited about all the awesome photos we're going to have as a result of our wedding! I'm already hoarding Michaels 50% off coupons because we're going to need lots of frames.

Instead of hiring a well-known, over-priced, "everybody line up" photographer, we are delighted to be using two family friends just getting started in the biz. They have incredible natural talent and their photography style meshed completely with our vision. Yeah, we have a vision. One that does not include "Okay, now everyone look in different directions. Okay, now everyone jump up in the air at the same time. Okay, now look at each other lovingly." We want photography that captures what we're actually feeling in that particular moment... because we actually DO love each other. We don't need someone telling us when to kiss and when to smile.

We were a little hesitant to hire amateur photogs (no offense) but were so delightfully surprised & incredibly happy with how our engagement photos turned out that we went out on a limb and hired these ladies for our wedding.







For more info on these photographers I'm bragging about, check out their websites and see for yourselves:


Shout out to Awkward Family Photos for the first three oh so awkward/terrible/entertaining couples photos.


now what?

Now that our wedding is a little over a week away and all the major planning is done... I'm getting that old, familiar itch to start working on something else. Yep, I didn't even walk down the aisle yet and I'm already bored. Pretty ridiculous, right? Since the new year is just around the corner and I love making lists... I thought I'd put together a list of things I want to accomplish in 2011.

1) Start a blog & keep it going... for real this time.
2) Sew more and learn new techniques.
3) Give lots of awesome homemade gifts to people that make them think, "hey, she should really start an Etsy shop."
4) Start an Etsy shop.
5) Plan & take a weekend trip to NYC with Tim (he's never been there, say what?!)
6) Plan out my garden for the Spring... with more veggies this year!
7) Shop at thrift stores more often.
8) Get more creative with my wardrobe.
9) Highlight my hair (kinda scary 'cause I've never permanently dyed it before).
10) Acquire new recipes and WOW my new husband at the dinner table.
11) Be a crazy awesome wife while simultaneously doing all of the above.

Oh, and I will never use the words hubby or hubs when referring to Tim. That's a promise.

We got engaged on December 5, 2009... and we're still this happy & excited to get married!