Sunday, December 14, 2014

Happily Ever After

Hi everyone! It's Carl. I know its been a few months and I apologize for the delay. Time has flown so fast and so many amazing things have happened in the past few months. Since our last posts, Natalie and I were putting the final touches on our new home while also in the final stages of planning our wedding. I am excited to say that both turned out perfectly. Natalie and I had a beautiful wedding with family and friends this past October with a gorgeous fall background. Natalie will post separately with all of the details including some photos later on. After the wedding, we flew to Aruba for our Honeymoon and had an amazing time exploring the island and relaxing on the beach. The trip will also be a separate post eventually featuring some cool pics and some insight about our time spent there. All I can say is that I highly recommend going. The weather was beautiful with a breeze the entire time. It is definitely a terrific place to unwind and relax. Two months later, Natalie and I are now living happily together in our new fully renovated home. Shortly after getting settled following the Wedding and Honeymoon, we welcomed a new addition to the family, our adopted kitten named Pumpkin. Stay tuned for more. I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Brick Farm Market

What a great New Jersey find!

Already had taken a bite and spilled crumbs from my falafel wrap before I remembered to snap a pic!
Two weeks ago I took a random day off of work to catch up on wedding and house things (kind of a bit overwhelming trying to work full time, plan a wedding for 200+ people, and purchase and redo a condo at the same time).

For lunch we decided to try something new. I had seen a place in Hopewell, New Jersey before called Brick Farm Market, so we decided to give it a try. So glad we did!

This place has all kinds of local fare. Meats, cheeses, produce, along with a coffee bar, juice bar, bakery and cafe menu, so much to choose from. I was tempted to get a juice or a coffee, but we had intended to come for lunch so we headed toward the cafe section where you can eat in the market or outside. There were a ton of choices, both in the case freshly made salads etc., to made to order, all made with ingredients that are in-season and mostly Jersey fresh from local farms. We decided to order the Reuben with sweet potato fries and this delicious falafel wrap. Both had unique names and had other things than just the normal reuben or falafel wrap, but I can't remember the specifics. The taste, however, was unforgettable, and I will definitely be back.

But... don't expect to have the same thing I did because their menu changes weekly. Being that they use what is in season, it is constantly being changed up. I happen to love this kind of place. You never get bored, it forces you to step out of getting "the usual" and makes you try something new.


I also happen to love that they had "Natalie's Lemonade" in the fridge for sale. Yeah, I make lemonade now... just kidding. This tasted awesome though, and it made me happy to see only three ingredients listed on the back, water, lemons and pure cane sugar. All natural. All delicious, as goes for anything in this place.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Bridal Shower!


They got me! This weekend, August 10th, was the second time on record that I was completely surprised. First time was when I got engaged back in December of 2012. I was almost 100% sure my shower was going to be August 24th, because I just had gotten a few inklings from my mom and Carl that it was the day, but I was wrong!

Carl and I started out the day going to church as we always do on Sunday, my favorite part! Afterward we grabbed a bite to eat and stopped at my house, where I first started suspecting that my shower was that day. Then we headed to our new condo to attempt to scrape the "popcorn" texture off our ceilings. That last part didn't happen, oh well. Carl turned down an unfamiliar road, to a country club. That was when I started really got a feeling that it was shower day. I still was a little confused because I didn't see any familiar cars in sight, even though in the back of my mind I knew what was coming.

Still, when the lady opened the doors, I was taken aback when all my close friends and family shouted, "Surprise!!"

My mom and all my bridesmaids worked so hard to put together a beautiful shower, and it was perfect, and I am beyond thankful!

Check out some photos below.


My Grandma & Grammy. I love them and was so happy to have them both at my shower!





So absolutely grateful and overwhelmed by the generosity. Cannot thank everyone enough!



My amazing bridal party!

My soon to be mom-in-law and my mom!



Longtime girlfriends!

Cousins! Each of us were the only girl in our families so we consider each other "sisters". (:


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting Back to Fitness: 5 Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

Confession: I am a chronic yo-yo exerciser. I have a love-hate relationship with working out. One day I am inspired and get in an amazing workout, the next day I shudder at the thought of even putting on those stretchy pants and that uncomfortable sports bra. Why am I like this? I am not sure. I could tell you all the typical excuses "I'm so busy", "I'm tired after working all day", "I don't have time", "I don't feel good", "It is too late", "It is too early", "I'll do it tomorrow", "I'll start again next week", I have used every one in the book.

How do I change this pattern? Here is how I propose to do it and maybe it can help you as well.

1. Not taking measurements or "before" pictures. 

For some people, taking measurements and before pictures are essential to their motivation, but for me I feel like when I do those things I am starting over from square one again, which is not the case. I have been exercising on an off for a few years now, I need to give myself some credit for my efforts, so should you! I also don't like the idea of the before picture. Usually you take 20 pictures to get the "best" looking one and then you feel like crap because you know this person you see in the picture is someone you need to change and you feel like you have a long way to go. No. You are perfect the way you are, any "improvements" in your health and fitness are just additions to the already great person you are.

2. Consistency, no matter how small.

Whether you complete an insane, sweaty two hour workout session or a 5 minute abdominal circuit, you just did something. Your body was moving, your body was engaged and active for that amount of time. It counts! If you are going, going, going all day long, a 10 minute fast-walk around the neighborhood, the office building, or campus is sufficient. My thoughts are that anything is better than nothing. If one day I just get in a few minutes of exercise, another day I'll push harder.

3. Remember your WHY.

Everyone has a different reason for working out. To achieve better general health, to prevent illness, to look great in a swimsuit, to relieve stress, to be in a bodybuilding competition, to feel confident, the list goes on. The key to your motivation is figuring out your true reason "WHY" you exercise, and keep it in the forefront of your mind. You can do this through an inspiration board, a daily reminder on your phone, a fitness partner, etc.

4. Finding what works for you.

I can't work out at home. Maybe here and there I can do an at home workout, but if I have to count on myself to come home everyday, pop in a DVD and workout, I won't do it. My home is my oasis, my retreat. It takes one too many planks to push me over the edge and make me pause the DVD to crash on my bed. An important factor in helping stay consistent with your fitness is to find what works!

I found when I joined a local fitness studio in my town, I actually looked forward to exercise. They had a great variety of classes, BarreAmped, Pilates, Yoga, Yogalates, Zumba, and more to always make things interesting. It also helped me when I was working out with other people because I was less likely to give up if something was really difficult. Seeing other women giving it their all really made me push myself a little harder. Check out local studios in your area or see what your gym offers for classes.

I left the studio I was at because I am in the process of moving to a different town, but I definitely want to get back to some workout classes in my new town once we're settled.

5. Setting realistic goals.

It is easy to say, "I want to lose 10 pounds by next month", but once you come to the realization of what that means, you may shut down and say to yourself, "Forget it, not going to happen." Having goals and a picture in your head of what those goals look like definitely can help, but setting realistic ones is the key.

Realistic goals to me means having a big picture in mind, but focusing on short-term goals to get there. Last October I said, by my wedding (this October), I want to be in the best shape of my life. Did I set any small goals? No. Am I in the best shape of my life? Nah.

If I had set short-term goals I may be a lot closer today to that big picture than I actually am. The goals can be anything from getting to the gym at least 3 times this week, to losing 1 pound this week, to getting up at least one or two mornings this week to take a walk around the neighborhood. I like to start with just some very small goals because I find it more satisfying if I wanted to go to the gym 3 times this week and went 4 rather than if I had aimed to go 6 times this week and only went 5. See the difference?

Don't set yourself up for discouragement! Set yourself up for achievement!

Hopefully these 5 pointers will help get you back on the fitness train. As for me, I'm taking my own advice to get in shape for my wedding.

Last thing to remember, if you get off track don't feel like a failure, you're not! Just jump right back in. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to take a giant leap forward!

(:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Pasta with Pancetta and Cabbage

Amongst the wedding crazies and the house happenings, a girl has to eat. While I have been eating generally pretty healthy, I do enjoy a good bowl of pasta here and there, I am half Sicilian after all. Saturday, while my mom and I were out and about, we drove to a quaint little shopping landmark called Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. If you have never been there and live in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York area, I recommend spending the day here. I've been many times and it never gets boring. Peddler's Village has some of the most unique shops that you won't find anywhere else.

One of my favorite shops in the Village is called Casa Casale. It is a little Italian specialty shop, with pasta, oils, vinegars, cheeses and other unique cooking knick knacks from Italy. On the one end of the shop is a live cooking demonstration station where there is always one or two meals on the stove to sample. Saturday, they were cooking "Pasta with Cabbage and Pancetta". One bite and I had to have the recipe. I bought the same pasta they used in the recipe which was a Fusilli variety and my mom and I went straight to the grocery store for the rest of the supplies.

I love when recipes call for wine. Usually you only need less than a cup and then the rest you can sip while cooking or while enjoying dinner. The recipe used white wine, I had a white table wine variety called "Just Married" from a Bucks County, Pennsylvania winery, Wycombe Vineyards.


Pancetta is usually purchased at your grocery store or any italian specialty shop in your area. It is delicious! We tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more our own. This recipe is Carl approved. (;

Enjoy and don't forget to stop by Casa Casale in-store or online!

Pasta with Pancetta and Cabbage

Ingredients:
2 tbs. Olive Oil
1/2 cup diced Pancetta
3/4 cup diced Onion
1/2 head boiled Savoy Cabbage - chopped
1/4 cup reserved Cabbage broth
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup White Wine
Salt and fresh ground Pepper
1 lb. of Fusilli Pasta - cooked al dente
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta.
2. Cook Fusilli until al dente - taste after 6-7 minutes, don't over cook.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.
4. Sauté the pancetta and onions until the pancetta is crispy and the onions are translucent.
5. Add white wine and let stand a few minutes to deglaze the pan.
6. Add the cabbage, stir, add the cabbage broth and chicken broth.
7. Let everything simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Drain pasta and add to pan with pancetta & cabbage, toss together.
9. Add salt & pepper to taste.
10. Top with some grated parmesan.

Enjoy!




Thursday, July 31, 2014

A New Chapter: Our First Home!


Last Friday was a monumental day for Carl and me. We are now proud homeowners! For me, I always figured someday I would own something but I would probably have to rent first. Carl on the other hand had a dream of owning a home by the time he was 25. That dream came true just a few months after turning 25.

Our new home is still in New Jersey but closer to both of our jobs in a lovely little community with lots of paths to walk, a tennis court and a community pool. I am excited because I will now be within 10 minutes of both a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s, which happen to be my two favorite food stores. Garlicky Kale salad here I come! Woohoo. (;

Before we move we have a lot of work to do. The place is in really great condition to live in now, but we want to paint the walls and tile the bathroom and kitchen floors. We want to make it our own. That means you will be seeing some home improvement/décor posts in the next two months. Look out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I'll Be Missing You, Cookie


Somewhere between those little paws pouncing on your toes and those last cozy moments in your arms your furry friend becomes your family. I think one of the things that make losing a pet so difficult is that she was always there for you. Whether you had the worst day of your life or the best, when you walked through your front door she was always there to greet you with her cute grin, waggling tail and complete adoration of you.

Last week, I lost my cat, Cookie. Truly my cat was family to me. We picked her out of a litter of mostly boys and two girls. She was the runt of the litter and when my brother and I saw her we knew she was the one. That was in 1996 when I was only six years old. I don’t remember much of my life before her, but I remember almost everything after. The times she scratched me when I would bother her, the times she would walk up to me and sit next to me when I cried, the Christmas mornings where she would quickly hop into every empty box that was tossed to the floor, when she would sniff out and investigate every grocery bag, every person, every "new" thing that came in the door, always exploring and bathing in the sunlight.


From making puddle soup in the sidewalk holes, to teenage drama and to my engagement, my cat has been my best friend, my sister, my kid. I love her and always will. She will always have a piece of my heart.

See you again someday my cute little fluffy black kitty cat!








Last time holding her in my arms <3


How I'll always remember you... bathing in the sunlight.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Beginnings

Hello. My name is Carl, Natalie's husband to be. This is my first post on Something Jersey. Just to give you a little insight about me, I am a very outgoing, fun, positive, slightly goofy but caring guy. I have an interest in almost everything. My life has been blessed and I am forever grateful to have found the love of my life, Natalie. We are in the process of so many exciting things including planning our wedding and buying our first home. I just want to acknowledge how creative, smart, and hardworking she is. Without her, all of these things couldn't be possible. This week has been a bit challenging and overwhelming. I try to always cheer Natalie up with some of my corny humor. Laughter is always the best remedy. As our wedding date approaches and when we get settled in our home, so many decisions have to be made and new responsibilities will be taken on. I am confident and believe that as long as we stick together, remain positive and have fun, everything will always work out. Once we get settled in our new home, we have a ton of home improvement projects in mind. First, we are going to paint everything, do some tile work, and put in a new vanity in the bathroom. Eventually, we are going to upgrade our kitchen appliances hopefully toward the end of the year. I am going to attempt the DIY method with a strong emphasis on "attempt" hoping that I can add some character and modernize some rooms without totally obliterating the place. I have not yet ventured into handyman work but I am very eager to learn and develop. It goes back to having confidence in yourself. Enjoy your day!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Recipe: Mini Hamburger Dessert

Let me tell you a little story about these yummy hamburger look-a-likes. When I was little, every summer our neighborhood would have Court picnic, complete with a big tent, chairs, stories, games and delicious food. Each year my neighbor, Debbie, would make this bite-sized dessert that looked like a bunch of mini hamburgers. When you are a kid, everything miniature is exciting, from golf, to animals, you get the idea, the fact that this dessert had my favorite candy (York Peppermint Patties) in it made it that much more exciting. I would eat a couple, then when it got dark I would sneak under the table and pop my hand up to grab a few more. I can't eat as many now as I did then (they're pretty sweet!), but I still love to indulge in these little burgers when I do make them.

There really is no set measurements, the more ingredients you buy the more you can make. I'd say one package of everything makes about 30 or little more. 


What you need:

1 box of Vanilla Wafers
1 jar of Vanilla Frosting
1 small package of coconut flakes
1 large bag of mini York Peppermint Patties (or two smaller bags)
Honey
Sesame Seeds
Green Food Dye (Red is Optional)

Prep:

1. Prepare a bowl of coconut flakes with a few drops of green food dye, mix well.
2. Unwrap all the individual peppermint patties.
3. Optional to separate a little bit of the vanilla frosting and dye it red. I say optional because it takes a whole lot of red food dye to even get a red color. You can just leave all frosting white, as it looks like "mayonnaise".

Assemble:

Now the fun part, and this is fun for kids to help out with.
1. Put a little white icing on the bottom of each wafer.
2. Stick on a peppermint pattie.
3. Add a little more icing (red if you have it)
4. Press on or flip over and press the pattie/wafer combo into the coconut.
5. Ice the bottom of another wafer and press on top gently.
6. Add a tiny drop of honey to the top of the "burger" and spread it a little.
7. Sprinkle a pinch of sesame seeds on the honey to stick.

Eat up!

Hope you can enjoy this recipe at one of your picnics this summer. It is a lot of fun, everyone loves them and raves over how cute they are. The recipe is really simple and I'm positive that kids will fly at the chance to help out with this one!

Bonus!
A couple years ago I put together a slideshow of how to make these on my old YouTube channel. Watch the video below.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Invitation Assembly Done Right

One of the wedding to-do items that I am most excited about is the invitations. Once those babies go out, the countdown is really winding down! What I did not realize about the invitations is that with them comes a lot of other to-dos, including assembly. I don't know what I was thinking when I ordered these, but everything came in a giant box all in separate pieces and somebody has to put them together. I thought it would be easy. Ha, ha, joke's on me!

The task was pretty daunting, so I enlisted the help of three of my closest friends two of which are bridesmaids! Let me tell you, when someone offers help, take it! If my mom and I were to assemble those things by ourselves, we would have been sitting at our dining room table for two days. Of course, when you have helpers don't forget to repay them with hospitality, it is the least you can do!

Since everyone came over in the late afternoon, pre-dinner snacks were the way to go. Some of the goodies I set out included:

Three different types of cheeses, sliced.
Apple slices.
Fresh baked Multi-Grain Beer Bread.
Spinach & Herb dip.
Feisty Fajita dip.
Baked Tortilla Chips.
Baked Potato Chips.
Baby Carrots.
Celery.
Chopped Strawberries.
Gourmet Dark & Milk Chocolate.

Oh, and can't forget the red wine! There is winery right outside of New Jersey in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that's called Sand Castle Winery, they make a delicious sweet red that tastes just like sangria, without the hassle of making sangria! The wine is called Claret and if you're ever in the area do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle. You'll thank me later. Doesn't hurt that the winery is in a gorgeous location overlooking the Delaware River.

Anyway, we set up everything on the table, claimed our assembly duties and then got to snacking. After that it was straight to work. No one left until around 7:30pm, so it took a good three hours to do the job. In the end, the invitations look beautiful and I can't wait to send them out in a few weeks! You'll have to see what they look like in a later post, but for now here are a few photos from last Saturday.

Oh and by the way... Praise God for great friends and an amazing mom! 
(These girls and I go way back, 2nd, 4th & 5th grade!)





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Journey Begins

It was just last week that my fiancé, Carl, and I were talking about starting a blog. There are so many exciting events happening in our lives and also many people that ask us about them daily. So we decided to open up our journey to you! What does this mean? Everything is on the table. Wedding, house, future babes, life & love. You may read a recipe one day and the next an inspiring post on special quote or bible verse. You may see a before and after of a room in our house, and maybe a few snapshots from a football game we went to that weekend. Travel memories, book and movie reflections, product reviews, funny stories, the list goes on.

From engaged couple, to husband and wife, to mom and dad. I hope this blog can become a testament to living a real, faith-based, healthy, happy life, with the occasional bad day of course! You'll see posts from both Carl and I depending on who has something say that day, so be prepared for some posts with a male point-of-view! Someday I want to be able to look back through these pages and smile.

So where did the name "Something Jersey" come from you ask? Well, last weekend Carl and I went out to eat at a little Mexican restaurant (one of our favorite cuisines). While we were savoring the fresh guacamole and baked tortilla chips we were throwing out name ideas.

Me: "It has to be something Jersey, since we live here and most of the things we do will be here in Jersey." 
Carl: "How about that? Something Jersey?"
Me: "Hmm, okay, I like that!"

Simple as that. Most of our discussions are not that easy, but this one seemed effortless. Maybe it was meant to be? We'll find out in years to come, but FIRST, we have a wedding to finish planning, and my is it coming up fast! 87 days left, and lots to do. 

Check out some of our engagement photos from our shoot last Summer with our amazing photographer, Matt!






Have Faith in the Journey