so long 2012..

What a year.  For me, 2012 had some good and some bad. Work started off with a bang in 2012 with a great listing and a couple of promising deals.  Deals that promptly fell apart/had major problems.  Talk about total panic.  In the end, it was a fantastic year for me.  I had a lot of wonderful clients and a couple of listings that had multiple offers.  Overall, it was very successful year and I'm pleased with my business.   I traveled a lot in 2012.  It was an antidote to my stressful work situation. It sounds strange to say travel makes it better but in my case, it does.  Whenever life starts throwing me curve balls, I book a trip and things begin to equalize.  I visited a lot of places for the first time this year:  Seattle/Portland/Willamette Valley, Barbados and Paris.  I also managed a couple of trips to the beach plus a kick ass blog workshop in NYC.   I also accomplished a number of home improvements.  I revamped both bathrooms with new mirrors and light fixtures, replaced the pendants above the kitchen bar, switched up the slipcovers on my couches, and aquired new art. There was also a disastrous DIY project that still hasn't been re-imagined.  Oh well.  You can't win them all. When I reflect upon 2012, I will remember my many adventures, memories with my family and friends, and the attention I directed towards developing this blog.   I wonder what 2013 will bring?    ...
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holiday obsession: pepperoni rolls and frittae

  Every year, a flurry of baking and frying occurs at my parent's house the days before Christmas.   Most insiders know to come over on Christmas Eve morning.  You'll get a taste of the good stuff hot out of the oven or fryer.  Our family and friends gather around the kitchen table or congregate on the deck (where the frying occurs) to wait for a piece of squid or whiting.  I'm always waiting on the pepperoni rolls and frittae (Italian fried dough).  It's one of the highlights of my holiday season and it's delicious.     Below are the recipes for my two favorites, pepperoni rolls and frittae.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!    You can use frozen dough for these recipes, but my Uncle and Dad prefer to make their own. This is my Dad's dough recipe in his own words, with a few edits.  For all of you that ate at our restaurants, this is THE DOUGH.   You can also use it for pizza or calzones (so pay attention!)   Pepperoni rolls   Dough: 4 cups bread flour 1 Tbsp salt 1 pkg dry yeast 1 Tbsp sugar 2 cups warm water 2 packages sliced pepperoni rounds In a food processor bowl, place the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Mix. With the motor running, pour in the water a little at a time to make a dough that cleans the sides of the bowl. Whirl the dough about 30 times, adding a little more flour if the dough seems sticky. Take the dough out of the processor and divide into 3 oz. portions as if making rolls.  Place these portions on an oiled baking sheet and put in the cool oven with a small pot of boiling water.  Let the rolls double in volume (about 1 hour).  Working on a cutting board, flatten each portion, add 6 to 8 slices of pepperoni.  Wrap the pepperoni with the dough, close the ends and place the roll back on the baking sheet (seam side down).  Place the baking sheet back in the oven and let the rolls rise until doubled in size. Again about 1 hour.  It's ok if the rolls touch each other. Once the rolls have risen, bake at 350 degrees until a light brown.  Turn the baking sheets in the oven for even baking.  Don’t forget to take the pot...
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raleigh guide

Thirteen years ago, I moved to Washington, DC from Raleigh, NC.  I had just returned from living in Spain for a year.   I found Raleigh frustrating.  There wasn't a walkable downtown and there weren't many unique restaurants and bars. Things have certainly changed!  Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to enjoy some of the new (to me) places that populate the NC capital.   Furbish Studio is one of the best home stores I've visited in years.  Located on a quiet street full of warehouses, it's full of hidden treasures.  It has fantastic chandeliers, pillows galore, original art and coming soon, their own line of furniture.  If you can't get to their retail store, their website offers a large selection of their goods. Remember the Mr.& Mrs. Santa cocktail glasses from my gift guide?  I found them online at Furbish.                   312 W. Johnson St  Poole's Diner served one of the best meals I've had this year.  I had an arugula, pink lady apple and blue cheese salad and rabbit papperadele.  It was as delicious as it sounds.  The chef, Ashley Christensen, owns several restaurants in Raleigh. I read about her and the Raleigh food community in Bon Appetit.  Naturally, I'd want to sample the goods while I was visiting and I was not disappointed.                                    426 S. McDowell St.             The mixology craze has hit Raleigh and Fox Liquor Bar is an excellent example of the genre.  This is another Ashley Christensen locale and it focuses on hand crafted cocktails.  The music was lively, the cocktails were strong and the exposed brick walls and concrete floors give the bar an industrial vibe.                                           237  S. Wilmington St.     photos top to bottom: me, Poole's Diner FB page, New...
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riveting rooms

As I type, the kitchen has been commandeered by my Uncle and Dad.  They are knee deep in Christmas Eve party prep:  making pepperoni rolls, breading the fish to fry, making lasagna and squid soup. I'm in the living room..out of the way.   The mantel and house are finally decorated.  As you can see, I went with the red and white straw wreath that I featured last week.  It was an easy DIY project that I still managed to screw up.  The bow is hiding a few things.  Camouflage is key.   I also entered the mantel in a mantel styling contest on Emily Henderson's blog. I don't usually enter contests but I thought "Why not"?  It's pretty cute, if I do say so myself.  What if I win? Wouldn't that be rad?  VOTE for it here.  Voting is open till the 31st.  I will be repeating this often.  Get ready. I spent the weekend seeing a friends, hanging with my Mom and Aunt, visiting with my husband's family and checking out new (to me) places in Raleigh.   Until later this week, Happy...
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latest and greatest

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the coffee bar

On Monday, I was meeting clients to complete a final walk through and I stumbled upon a new coffee shop. The Coffee Bar, on the corner of 12th and S St, NW, just opened.  It's a quaint place and the coffee was excellent.  I'm a fan of skim lattes and you can see mine was a beaut.  I admired the mint green espresso machine and the wall of blackboard paint with their daily offerings.  Welcome to the neighborhood!...
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novel novels

I can't resist a historical romance.  They're easy to read, you learn something (get your mind out of the gutter!) and they're highly entertaining. I first read the Outlander series when I was in high school.  I've taken to re-reading them whenever I can't find something decent to read.  Claire and Jaime, the protagonists, are engaging and likable.  I always want to see what sort of adventures they're having.  There's time travel, war, life in the French court under Louis, and immigration to the colonies.  I rarely re-read anything but these novels charm me again and again. Shadowy Horses, the latest from Susanna Kearsley, is another engaging novel. Set in the Scottish borderlands, it's about the discovery of the resting place of the legendary Ninth Roman Legion.  It's a mix of archaeology, history, romance, suspense and a little super natural.  It's immediately absorbing....
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riveting rooms

I finally found this years inspiration for decorating my parent's house.  How adorable is this wreath made out of straws?   It's a DIY project which scares me a little.  I'm wondering if it's going to be one of those projects that 5 minutes into it, I'm going to say "WHY did I think this was a good idea?"  But it's so striking I can't resist giving it a whirl! This DIY is going to be featured in Sweet Paul, an online magazine.  Design Sponge ran sneak peak feature last week.  Click here for instructions. *photo Design Sponge via Sweet...
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friday favorites

I'm so happy it's Friday.  This week has been busy. There's been a lot of running around, holiday parties and work.  All good things but I'm ready for the weekend. Even though the weekend means more work!   Have you been to the holiday mart in Penn Quarter yet?  I go every year and it's lovely.  I usually wander through it with a friend who works in Penn Quarter but this year she was too busy.  Instead, I took a quick glance last Saturday after spin class.  All the booths weren't open yet but I saw a few things that intrigued me. If you need last minute presents, it's open through the 23rd every day from noon till 8pm on the corner of 8th and F St, NW. Have you been to Salt & Sundry at Union Market?  Metrocurean writer Amanda McClements opened the cutest store chock full of gorgeous tableware, food stuffs like fancy bitters and tables crafted by her Dad out of reclaimed wood.  I want everything in there.  Excellent source for unique gifts. If you're a DIY-er, this cute key chain looks really easy.  I'm tempted to attempt it but after my last DIY disaster, I might be done with those sort of projects.  But it does look really easy…hmm. This series called Male Monday on Sous Style cracks me.  Photos of hot guys cooking?  I'm in....
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‘hood happenings

links and photos top to bottom: Daily Candy DC, CJDC, POP,...
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holiday obsession: salted caramel brownies

When I saw this recipe on Cup of Joe, I immediately pinned it.  I'm obsessed with salted caramel.  It's the perfect flavor combo: salty and sweet.  I love salted caramel ice cream, I buy them by the handful from the Cork Market, and I've never sampled a chocolate salted caramel bar that I didn't enjoy.  I made these brownies for my Dirty Santa party and they were a huge hit.  They are delicious, easy and people will think you're a master baker. A tiny secret:  you can make this with a brownie box mix and get the same results!    Salted Caramel Brownies Ingredients: 1 cup (2 sticks) butter4 1-oz. squares of dark chocolate2 cups sugar4 eggs1 tsp. vanilla extract1 cup all-purpose flour1/2 tsp. salt1/4 cup caramel topping (I used one from Cork Market) 1 tsp. good quality sea salt  Preperation:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a 3-quart saucepan over very low heat, melt butter and chocolate, stirring the mixture constantly. Remove from heat, and stir the sugar into the chocolate. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour and 1/2 tsp. salt in a separate bowl, then stir into the chocolate mixture.  Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Drizzle the caramel atop the batter, and use a knife to swirl over the surface. Sprinkle sea salt over the caramel. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted into the center come out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. *photo by me.  recipe via A Cup of...
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dirty santa

Every year, my girlfriends and I have a "Dirty Santa" party.  What's that, you say? A nefarious party with a foul mouthed santa?  Nope..nothing that tantalizing.  It's just a funny name for a gift exchange.   The idea is simple:  the gift limit is $25.  We pile the gifts in the middle of the room and draw numbers to pick a present.  Here's the twist: you can steal presents from the people who go before you.  The best number to draw is the last number.  This leads to a spirited gift exchange (and a few cuss words in my crowd.)   This year, my contribution is Mrs. Lilien's Cocktail Swatchbook and some vintage cocktail glasses. I'm so excited about my gift, I might have to pick it for myself! links:  1. geometric studs $24 2. mini pom pom hair clips $12 3. zebra tray $24  4. Mrs. Lilien's Cocktail Swatchbook...
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