Heading South for Black Friday

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Black Friday everyone! I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving stuffing yourselves with turkey, pie, and all the love of friends and family.

We had a wonderful holiday spent at my parents' house with extended family on both sides. We thoroughly enjoyed cooking in the morning, sipping cocktails, watching football, taking family photos, and playing games late into the evening. My even smoked both of our turkeys! They were so, so good. It was nice having everyone in one place this year and not having to travel around to different homes. I wish we could do this every year!

Today, Mike and I are skipping the lines and crazy crowds and we're hopping on a plane destined for sunny Florida! Yes, for us, it is FINALLY vacation time!

We didn't take any vacations this year, so we are absolutely thrilled to have some time off. We're planning to visit my grandparents and my cousin for a few days before we head off to the Caribbean for a week long cruise! We are so excited for both parts of this trip and I can't wait to share all the details when we get back!

That being said, it was probably pretty dumb of me to plan a vacation for the first week of our #HeresToYouDecember Instagram Challenge but I've made arrangements so that I can still post on Instagram for each day of the challenge. Make sure you follow along with us and feel free to post as many days as you can!

I toyed around with the idea of paying for Wifi on the ship so that I could just post the pics myself, but at $20 a day, I really wasn't so sure I wanted to fork out that kind of cash for a single post each morning. One of my favorite things about cruising is being able to completely disconnect and I feel like if I paid for wifi, I would be tempted to log in much more frequently when I really should be unplugging altogether. So instead, I've recruited help from someone staying back in the states so that I can still participate and keep up with the challenge while I'm off the grid. So while you won't be seeing any vacation pics until I get back, I'll still be all there stirring up the Christmas spirit! Only five more days til it begins! I can't wait to see everyone's posts when I get back!

Have a wonderful rest of your Thanksgiving holiday and I'll see you in just over a week!

Garlic Herb Spaghetti Squash

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So if you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw the other night that I was making spaghetti squash and trying desperately to hide it from my husband. Why? Mike absolutely hates squash in all forms but he hasn't really ever had spaghetti squash, so I was trying to make it behind his back. I kept referring to it as "spaghetti vegetable" instead so that maybe he wouldn't know the difference.

Well, unfortunately, he figured it out pretty quickly but by some miracle he actually liked it!

Most of the time, if there's an ingredient (almost always a vegetable) that Mike doesn't like, I have to find creative ways to hide it in whatever dish I'm making. If he doesn't know it's there, he doesn't complain. So far, my little strategy has been working pretty well.

It's kind of hard to hide spaghetti squash though, so I sort of went in the opposite direction with disguising this one. Instead of chopping it up really small and putting it into something else like a soup or a casserole, I decided to find a recipe that added a bunch of other flavors to transform the taste of the dish itself. That way, I could enjoy my beloved squash and Mike would be none the wiser.

Enter, Garlic Herb Spaghetti Squash.


I found this recipe on Pinterest but it originally came from Pinch of Yum. The minute I saw all the herbs, nuts, cheese, and spices blended together up there in spaghetti squash goodness, I knew it was the one for me.

medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
olive oil
kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (sage is also yummy)
¾ cup shredded Gruyère cheese 
½ cup pine nuts, toasted (I ended up using walnuts because I didn't have pine nuts on hand)
black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub squash with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, until fork tender. Let cool about 10 minutes, then scrape the insides with a fork to pull the strands away from the skin. 

2. In a large skillet, heat 2½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1½ minutes, until fragrant. Stir in spaghetti squash, vinegar, herbs, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook for about 2 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in Gruyère cheese, then top with pine nuts. Taste and add salt or pepper if desired.

Baltimore Blates and a Holiday Instagram Challenge Announcement!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It's official! The holiday season is upon us! If you're like most people and don't like to celebrate the holidays until after Thanksgiving is over, I commend your effort. But with all this Christmas spirit around, I just can't wait! December is only one week away! If you're ready to start decking the halls, sipping all the hot chocolate, and posting pictures of all the wintery, Christmasy goodness, be sure to read until the very end for a special announcement!

This past weekend, I squeezed in not one but TWO holiday style blates with my favorite Baltimore girls! I got to see Megan, Annie, and Macy on both Saturday and Sunday and I swear I didn't stop laughing the entire time. These girls are so much fun and if you don't follow them on any and all forms of social media, you are missing out, my friend.

On Saturday, we met up for brunch in the city at Kooper's Tavern and although it was freezing, we proceeded to take multiple jump photos down by the water until we achieved a shot that was gram-worthy. This is what we ended up with... HA.

On Sunday, we went ice skating at the Pandora Ice Rink in the Inner Harbor dressed in our favorite animal PJs to really get into the spirit. People may begin to question my sanity if I don't mention that the PJ part was for a contest, so please don't think that I just enjoy skating in onesies for no reason... although it was so much fun, I may just do it again!

I've been meeting up with these fabulous ladies for a few months now and a while back, we decided that we wanted to launch our very own holiday Instagram challenge! We have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first of December and working hard to come up with fun prompts, so we hope that you join us! We've got a whole 31 days of fun in store, but feel free to post as few or as many times as you'd like.

Don't forget to follow us and add the hashtag #HeresToYouDecember on each of your posts!

Baltimore Social - Cornhole!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

So many Bawlmer things in one photo.

So between all of the weddings, house projects, and getaway weekends, Mike and I decided to do something completely and totally different this fall. We joined the Baltimore Social cornhole league!

Yep, that's right! The two of us along with five of my co-workers and friends assembled a team we like to call The Periodic Table Dancers. We are nerds, I know.

One night a week, we've been meeting up at McHenry Row in the city to do a little drinkin' and bag throwin' against what seems like some of the best teams in Baltimore. I'd like to say that we are one of the best teams, but that would be a big fat lie. Our first night, we lost miserably in both of our games and up until about the third week of the league, we didn't have a single win. I would like to report, however, that we ended up finishing with a record of 3-9! We have more wins than the RAVENS! Woohoo! (But at the same time, that's extremely depressing.)

It's been a total blast hanging out, getting to know everyone, snacking on some homemade salsa thanks to my friend Angela, and celebrating (or drowning our sorrows) together after the games. If all goes well, be on the lookout, because The Periodic Table Dancers may just be trying their hand in skeeball next season!

If you're thinking about joining a sports league in the area, check out the Baltimore Social page here!

101 in 1001 link-up!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Happy Monday friends!

Although my very last post was all about updating my 101 in 1001 list, I just couldn't help but post a little blurb today about this awesome link-up Macy from To Travel and Beyond is hosting! Starting today, she's running a 101 in 1001 link-up for anyone who wants to start a list or even those who already have one - like me!

This morning, I linked up my last post and I hope that you'll consider joining in on the fun too! We can keep track of each other's progress using the hashtag #my101in1001. I can't wait to see what kinds of fun bucket list activities everyone tackles over the coming months!

If you're brand new to 101 in 1001 lists and have no idea what they are or how to start one, check out my post here and then be sure to head over to Macy's link-up for list inspiration. Just click the link below!

To Travel & Beyond

101 Check-up

Friday, November 6, 2015

After stepping away from my blog for a few months, I realized the other day that I've also been neglecting my 101 list. Before the break, I used to strategize ways I could check things off and I really enjoyed planning the little trips and activities. Now that fall is here, I'm hoping to regroup and start knocking some out! There are so many incredible things to do in Maryland in the fall, so I've also updated the list a bit to make it easier for me to catch up. I know that's probably against the rules, but at this point, I'm so behind I just don't care. You can check out the list here if you'd like. And if you have no idea what a 101 list is, check out this post!

I took some time yesterday to review all of the goals I have left and I realized that I actually did accomplish a few since May! Here's a little re-cap:

1. Get some house plants. (And keep them alive)

I know this probably seems ridiculous to most people, but if you know me, you know that I have the absolute worst black thumb. I'm the type of girl that will buy a beautiful plant and put it in a pretty little pot and then somehow either forget that I did so entirely or over-water the poor little thing until it drowns. I've even killed succulents you guys. No, I'm not kidding and, yes, I'm extremely embarrassed to admit that. So that being said, I am so excited to be able to check this one off! For at least six months now, I've been able to keep THREE different plants alive indoors! One of which is a fern! That's not a succulent! YAY!

Here is the evidence. Look at these thriving babies!

2. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail.

Mike and I went for an amazing hike to Annapolis Rock off of the Appalachian Trail a few weeks back and it was glorious. That overlook at the top is so worth the 8 miles. We've talked many times before about what it would be like if we could take six months off from our jobs and hike the entire Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine, but since we aren't made of money and we actually like our jobs, it looks like we'll just have to hike it in little pieces like this for now. If you're interested in hiking Annapolis Rock, I recommend using this guide.

3. Get a stamp on my passport.

While I've traveled outside of the U.S. several times before (to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean mostly) I've never gotten a fun stamp in my passport since I typically haven't flown out of the country. So when I landed in Brussels in August and the guy at customs laid the first one on my little book, I practically jumped for joy! I can now officially change my title to Laura Powell: World Traveler and I've got the stamps to prove it.

4. Try Indian food.

Somehow I also missed the boat on this one. It seems like everyone I know absolutely loves indian food but I had never tried it... until Belgium. Weird place to eat Indian food, I know, but the little restaurant we went to was AMAZING. I could seriously eat garlic naan and chicken tikka masala every day it was that good.

5. Clean out my closet and donate everything that doesn't fit.

While I don't have photo evidence of this one, I can say that I've very successfully completed it. After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I was inspired to get rid of all of the useless things I own - starting with my clothes. It's amazing how many things one can acquire that simply do not fit properly. I'm not really sure why I was ever hanging onto all of those old sweaters, shoes, and pairs of jeans but I am so glad they are gone and have possibly found new homes with people who fit into them much better than I do.

Well, that's it for now! Here's hoping I keep rolling through this list and knock out a few more before 2016 hits!

Joining Macy for her awesome 101 in 1001 link-up! Be sure to check out all of the other lists for inspiration on creating your own!

To Travel & Beyond

Fall Playlist

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Now that November is here and fall is in full swing, I wanted to share a cozy little playlist I put together to go with the theme. Whether you are like me and love to go for long drives on back roads during this time of year with the brightly colored leaves swirling around you, or you enjoy bundling up and hiking trails through the woods, or you just like something to listen to while sitting at your desk at work sipping your PSL, this playlist is perfect for every autumn scene!

Some of these are new songs and some are older ones that I've pulled from my archives, but I hope you enjoy nonetheless! Happy hump day, friends!

If for any reason you can't view the embedded playlist, 
here is a list of song titles and artists to create your own:
Hold You in My Arms - Ray LaMontagne
Amsterdam - Gregory Alan Isakov
Lago Azul (feat. Jamila Velazquez) - Empire Cast
Better Than Love - Griffin House
Take Me Dancing - The Maine
Breakdown More - Eric Hutchinson
Say You Love Me - Jessie Ware
Such Great Heights - Iron & Wine
Here We Go Again - Angus & Julia Stone
If You Ever Want To Be In Love - James Bay
I've Got This Friend - The Civil Wars
You and I - Ingrid Michaelson
Wherever Is Your Heart - Brandi Carlile
Bright Blue - Daniela Andrade
Dance Me To The End of Love - Madeleine Peyroux


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So this post was originally intended for Monday morning but my weekend recovery has been a little slower than usual, so here we are on Tuesday. Such is life.

Our weekend adventure started on Friday night when we went to a Halloween party dressed as "Guess Who?" characters. Who remembers this awesome game?! As a true 90s kid, I can't even count the number of times I played this one. (Is your person wearing glasses?

Mike went as Tom and I went as Anita. I had originally planned to go as Maria but had a bit of trouble finding a green beret. I was kicking myself too because, had I thought about it a little sooner, I could have picked one up in Paris! 

The next night, we headed out to Fells Point for a good old fashioned Baltimore Halloween. You can never go wrong with Fells any year, but this particular Halloween was epic for two reasons. One, Halloween fell on a Saturday. Whenever Halloween is on a weeknight, the celebrations aren't typically as fun because people tend to split their parties into two different weekends. This year, there was no doubt as to when the parties were going to be, meaning more people, more events, and much more fun. Two, Daylight Savings ended at 2:00am giving us an extra hour of partying! Cheers to that!

Mike and I changed up our costumes for Fells and went as Maverick and Goose from Top Gun. It must have been a popular costume this year because every bar we went into, we would run into at least one other Maverick and Goose team. Two guys even had the helmets! It did however, make for lots of great photos and camaraderie!

Our friends Ashley and Jesse went as bacon and eggs and I pretty much died from the cuteness.

Some of my favorite costumes of the night were definitely Left Shark (which I failed to get a picture of thanks to all the Natty Boh I had), wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube man, and Bob Ross. SO many incredible ideas! 

After all the Halloween partying, I ended the weekend on a high note with an afternoon of paintballing in old prom and bridesmaid dresses for my friend Chelsea's bachelorette party. 

I had never been paintballing before, but I am pretty much addicted now. It was such an adrenaline rush (and a fantastic stress reliever) running around with a badass looking gun, shooting high speed paint at people. Such a blast! I hope to do it again soon and maybe bring Mike to do a little couple's competition! ;)