Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things in Brooklyn (Part I)

A lot of people have been curious about our apartment and neighborhood in Brooklyn, so here are a few of my favorite things inside and outside of our apartment in Williamsburg.  (Note, I promise to post pictures of our transformed apartment, but I am too much of a perfectionist to do that before I have everything the way I want it will probably be a few more weeks)

A few of my favorite things:

Because we could not get to our everyday dishes for quite sometime, we used our fine china cups and saucers for several weeks.  It was fun to be in the middle of boxes and complete disarray and drinking my much needed morning coffee out of our fine china that I love so much. 

Have you ever used this soap before?  It smells so wonderful!  I knew my friends Emmaline and Katherine used it, so when I saw it in every store we went into up here, I decided that I would try it out.  Now, I will never go back.  It is worth the extra couple of dollars to have the fragrance of geranium and lemon verbena everytime I wash my hands or wash the dishes.  And since there is no such thing as a dishwasher up here, I need something to encourage me to wash dishes!  If you have never had the pleasure of smelling the sweet aroma of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Geranium soap (my favorite), I would encourage you to go to your local Target and get it quickly.  No thank you's are needed; just consider it a gift from me to you. :)

I literally stood on our bed so that you could get a good picture of just how big and useful this $2.99 Ikea bag is.  I have used this bag for EVERYTHING!  I have quickly learned that when grocery shopping, it is better to have everything in one big bag that I can carry on my shoulder versus four little bags that I carry with my hands.  And it is better to carry your clothes to the laundry mat four blocks away in the Ikea bag versus carrying them in the laundry basket that will make your out of shape arm muscles hurt the next day.  I mean seriously, it carries so much and then when I get home and don't want it cluttering up our room, I just fold it down and put it away in a drawer or box or cooler or whatever is sitting around at the time.  By far the best deal I have seen since we came to the city!

Le Barricou is probably my favorite restaurant in Williamsburg.  As we discover new places, it may slide out of first place, but I doubt it will ever fall too far.  It is a wonderful French restaurant about a ten minute walk from our house.  Mitch has been going there for a while throughout his various stints in Williamsburg, but my first taste was  last summer when I came up to visit him during his internship.  It is everything you want in a restaurant: quaint, nicely decorated, helpful wait staff, reasonable prices (for New York) and delicious food!  We love their brunch on the weekends; they give you these delicious croissants that make me feel like I am back in Paris.  And we love their dinner; pretty much we love it anytime of day.  If you are in the area, I highly recommend you make it here; you won't regret it!

Last and certainly not least, MY MOM!  Sorry Mom for the blurry picture, I had to take it off of Facebook.  She came up a week after we moved in to help us get settled, and she was a lifesaver.  She came ready to help, and help is what we needed.  Boxes were everywhere and she had a mission to unpack as many as we possibly could.  She was great because all I needed to do was give her a project and she would take the reigns and go!  She lined kitchen cabinets, she organized kitchen cabinets, she helped us decorate the living room, she helped us pick out our rugs and she spent about two hours at Target helping me buy everything under the sun.  She was a trooper and sweetly dealt with my indecisiveness.  Do you ever wonder how mom's seem to know everything?  She threw out so many nuggets of knowledge that never would have even crossed my mind.  Thanks Mom for being so wonderful and for helping us out when we needed someone to come in and just do!

Mitch has some favorite things that he wants to talk about, so be looking for that this weekend.  And his tend to be more outside of the house, so you will get to see a little bit of our neighborhood!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall is in the Air and so is Taco Soup

We are joining our church, Resurrection Presbyterian Church, and in order to do that we had to attend a class to learn about the church and PCA theology.  To start off the class, our pastor decided to do a "What is your favorite thing about Autumn?" icebreaker.  There were answers such as football, the crispness of the first day that you realize you need a coat, and the smell of bonfires.  My answer was the changing of the leaves.  Even though I first truly experienced this just three years ago when Mitch started at UVA and we hiked in the Shenandoah mountains, it has definitely become my trigger that fall is here.  It was my favorite time of year in Charlottesville, and I am so sad to be missing the beautiful mountains this year.  BUT if the leaves changing is my favorite thing about fall, my second favorite thing is soup!

I never feel the liberty to cook soup in the warmer months, so it is a wonderful day when I cook the first soup of fall.  Yesterday was a wonderful day!  I chose taco soup to let my dutch oven know that is is officially fall and that it is time to get its soup on.  I first discovered taco soup when I was in Auburn getting my MaC (Masters in Accountancy).  One of my roommates, Amy, and I were cooking dinner for a big group of friends, and she decided that taco soup was the best choice.  Thank you Amy for bringing such a delicious and easy recipe into my life; it has become a staple!  I have adapted the below recipe slightly from the original, but really it is hard to mess this up.

Taco Soup

2 lb. ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel
1 (28 oz) can stewed tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, undrained
1 (11 oz) can whole-kernel corn, undrained
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
1 taco seasoning packet
shredded cheese, sour cream and jalapenos (optional)

Brown beef and onion.  Drain, then add the remaining ingredients; mix.  Simmer on the stove for two hours or cook three to four hours in the crockpot on low.  Top individual bowls with cheese, sour cream and jalapenos.  (I have also left it on low in the crockpot all day while I was at work, and it turned out great.)

I love to serve taco soup with homemade tortilla chips.  They are super easy and delicious!

Tortilla Chips

1 package fajita size flour tortillas
Paula Deen's house seasoning (1 part garlic powder and pepper to four parts salt)
Vegetable oil or peanut oil

Heat the oil to medium heat and quarter the tortillas.  When the oil is hot, fry the tortilla quarters in batches so not to crowd the skillet.  Once slightly brown on each side, remove from the oil and place in a paper towel lined bowl.  Sprinkle the chips with the seasoning as soon as they are removed so that it sticks to the chips.

Below are a couple of pictures of the soup.  While it may not look the most appealing, I promise it is delicious!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Before we moved on to post about our new home in Brooklyn, we wanted to pay tribute to the place that was our home for the past two-three years and that has stolen our hearts.  Charlottesville is an extremely unique place that functions like a small college town, but has a lot of the perks of a larger city.  You can do anything from apple picking to watching polo at a vineyard to rocking with The Boss to eating some of the best Japanese fusion tapas you could ever imagine.  We found a church that we loved and made lifelong friends there.  People say that the place you start your marriage/life together will always hold a special place in your heart, and Charlottesville filled up more of a space than we could have ever imagined.  Below are some pictures of our friends and time there. 

Our first Christmas

Our home in Crozet

Some of our sweet friends and small group

Our favorite thing to do on a pretty day was to hang out at the local vineyards.

Our first anniversary in DC

Our second anniversary at Blue Ridge Mountain Inn, our favorite B&B right outside of Charlottesville.

The Blizzard

Libel Show at the law school (it is a production that Mitch was in all three years)

This was taken in Lexington, VA when the whole family came up to visit for graduation....she loves her aunt!

The GRADUATE!!!!!!!

We have so many more pictures and things we want to say about Charlottesville, so there will definitely be another post.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Beginning.....

Mitch and I both just read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn while on our bar trip to Europe and LOVED it!  While we were on this trip, we decided that since we were about to start a new chapter of our life in a new city, we wanted to keep our friends and family in the loop.  Then we had to make the decision of the name for said blog. Me being the accountant and the less creative one in this marriage deferred to my better half and former graphic designer to come up with a really catchy name.  With the book being fresh on his mind, Mitch came up with the name A Blog Grows in Brooklyn.  When he pitched it to me, I loved it because: We are living in Williamsburg which is where the book is set. We love to read just like Francie. We are writing a blog, and Francie loved to write. Most of all because if you read the book it is a story of Francie's life, and that is just what we want this blog to be.  Nothing too fancy, just a place for us to write about the happenings of our life.