Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Recipe!

I learned tonight that I DO NOT like capers - does anyone even know what they are anyhow? Despite my caper discovery, I am happy I was able to test out my first Giada recipe tonight - Pasta Ponza from Giada at Home (Thank you Laura!). I give this dish two thumbs up - one for taste and one for an easy recipe. You can view this and all of the other dishes I have made on my What's Cookin' page. More Giada dishes coming later in the week!

Leather and Lace

When I saw today's ABC style challenge assignment - L for Leather - I was stumped. Besides the mp3 of Fleetwood Mac's Leather and Lace and a few belts, shoes, and bags, I own very few leather items. I thought of heading out and purchasing a leather jacket - something I have wanted to add to my wardrobe for a while now, but since my number two goal of 2012 is save more, spend less, I decided to work with what I had in my closet - my nine west black suede shoes.

Also, today L stands for Last - as in, my last official day of participating in this round of ABC styling. Tomorrow I begin my Winter 30 for 30! My plan is to continue participating in as many ABC style challenges as possible with the articles of clothing I pick out for 30 for 30. Stay tuned for my list of 30 for 30 items.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Knit Vision

When I was younger, my mom bought me a fluorescent yellow jacket. It was the 80s and neon was all the rage. Yellow was also (and still is) my favorite color, so I loved my jacket, despite the fact that I basically glowed in the dark. I wore my jacket everywhere and after lots of wear and tear, it was time to part with my beloved jacket. Since then, I haven't owned another neon yellow item of clothing... until now. Introducing my neon yellow and gray sweater. I thought this was the perfect top for today's ABC Style Challenge of K for Knit. 

Old Navy Sweater/ J.Crew skirt/ Target tights/ Dior necklace c/o Ilyssa/ Alfani purple heels c/o Ilyssa

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jewel of the Isle

Hello friends! Did you think I forgot about you? I didn't. Jesse and I traveled all morning and spent the rest of the day with family in Key West for a family wedding! This is my first time down here and I love it! It is a cross between New Orleans and the beach (both loves of mine).  Also, it is twice as warm here so I am excited to thaw out for a few days. I plan to post some pictures of our trip early next week.

Also, the last ABC style challenge of the week is J for Jewel Tones (and Jess). I was excited about this challenge. Jewel tones are just so pretty and since becoming a color convert over the past year, (I seriously only used to wear black, white, and tan) I have added a ton of color, including jewel tones, to my wardrobe. It is fun for me to mix and match all of the colors of the rainbow to see what new outfits I can create. All of the bright colors make me happy also. Hope you enjoy today's outfit.

Pin It

Have a great weekend everybody! See you all next week for the continuation of the ABC style challenge and the start of my Winter 30 for 30!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012


The first fashion blog I started reading regularly was Kendi Everyday. I stumbled upon it when I was wedding planning. My friend sent me a whole bunch of wedding-related blog links and one of those bloggers referenced another Kendi blog - Better Off Wed. I thought she was sarcastic and hilarious and couldn't get enough of her and her blog. Then I noticed she had another blog, Kendi Everyday. I clicked on the link to this blog and my life changed in an instant. I know that sounds dramatic, but it's true. I started reading her blog and began really evaluating my closet, shopping for things that fit in with things I already owned, and even participated in my first 30 for 30 this past winter. I was also exposed to the world of blogging for the first time and started signing up for, and following other blogs (as you can see from my "Daily Reads" list). Still, it all started with Kendi, so it only seems appropriate for today's ABC Style Challenge of I for Inspired By that I style my outfit based on a past Kendi look.

It was honestly hard to choose which look I wanted to recreate. I love so many, but I ended up deciding on this Kendi creation, only instead of a cute polka-dotted blouse, I added a hair elastic.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Recipes!

This post should be renamed "How to fake a fancy dinner in no time at all."

Between being in Pennsylvania this past weekend, heading to Florida this upcoming weekend, and a whole lot of other stuff in between, I didn't have as much time to shop for groceries and attempt to follow more complicated recipes this week so I turned to the Taste of Home Busy Family Cookbook (compliments of my mom) for our dinners.

The recipes I chose to make were Chicken Parmigiana and Ravioli Primavera.

The chicken parmigiana was definitely an easy dish for a weeknight dinner. It took no time to prepare and was fairly tasty. I can't say it was my favorite dish I have made in the past few weeks, but I will still file it away with recipes I can make in a pinch.

I loved the Ravioli Primavera. It was the easiest meal I have ever made and delicious. It also ended up looking way fancier than it actually was. Add in a bottle of wine and some roses like we did (we are one classy couple) and you have one lovely weeknight dinner that feels like it came out of a gourmet Italian restaurant. I will definitely be making this again.

Both recipes have been posted on my What's Cookin' page. Enjoy!

Chicken Parmigiana

Ravioli Primavera

Headgear and Housekeeping

Happy Hump Day! Today's ABC Style Challenge is H for Hats and Head wraps. As much as I love hats, headwraps, and other headgear, today's challenge makes me realize that I really don't own much of any of these things. I have a summer hat, a few outdoor winter hats, and some headbands, and no head wraps. The great thing about the ABC challenge though is it is forcing me to get creative with what I have. I am also happy the challenge is inspiring me to put together outfits using clothes I was beginning to get bored with.

Also, regarding the photos of my outfit, on the positive side, I finally got myself outside for pictures. On the flip side, I made the rookie mistake of standing with the sun to my side, resulting in washing half of my body out and making it appear as though I have no nose. I am sure as time goes by and I start tackling number eight on my 30 for 2012 list and that I will begin to take pictures that include all of my facial features and enable you to see the full outfit I pull together.

Besides hump day, hats and headwraps, H also stands for a couple Housekeeping items.

First, Messy Jess C. now has a Facebook page. If you just can't get enough Messy Jess C. you can "like" me on Facebook and read my daily updates there.

Second, as much as I love the standard Blogger templates, I would like to personalize my blog a bit. Since I know almost nothing about webpage design, I am hoping to hear from you guys with suggestions on how to make this happen, whether you know how to do this yourself and wouldn't mind passing along your knowledge, or you have recommendations for people you think I should reach out to (willing to swap my new cooking skills in exchange). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hope you all have a great day!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Today's ABC style challenge is G for Glitter and Glam. I can't help humming Glamorous as I type this post and feel grateful to Fergie for teaching me how to spell the word.

I have always associated glam and glitter with the 1940s. Fashion at the time was sophisticated and elegant. Women somehow looked like themselves with an added touch of something special. They also pulled it together and made it look easy. Check out this bombshell on the left and you will see what I mean (Isn't my grandmother beautiful? My grandfather isn't too shabby either.)

I also can't murmur the word glamorous without thinking of Audrey Hepburn. She is the epitome of glamor. I absolutely love this look from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

So, when I was thinking about an outfit for this challenge, I decided to pull my inspiration from my fashion idol of the forties, my grandmother, and Audrey.

My inspiration for my earrings, necklace, and the pin (yep, the same feathery pin from yesterday's post) was taken from Audrey and my lip gloss and hair inspiration was taken from my grandmother. She definitely pulled it off better than I did. This is where I should mention that this past weekend I also purchased a curling iron to achieve goal number 17 on my 30 for 2012 list. Lots of people have told me how easy it is to use a curling iron, but I am curling iron challenged so I am going to keep practicing until I get it right. We're not quite there yet. Finally, I added a jacket to the outfit for the sole reason that my office is an ice box. I think it works though. Let me know what you think.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Good Monday morning! Did everyone have a nice weekend? I hope so!

Jesse and I were in Pennsylvania this weekend for a belated birthday celebration for my Dad. We were also lucky enough to make it up to my parents' house in time to shovel their driveway after getting a few inches of snow - how's that for timing? Other highlights of the weekend included brunch with my friend Amanda at the delicious Charcoal, Steaks, and Things, a much-needed haircut, and a three hour stint in Verizon which resulted in me finally joining the rest of the world in buying an iPhone.  Below is a mix of pictures from the weekend. Hope you enjoy them.

Also, it is Monday, which means, we are back to My Greatest Hit's ABC style challenge. We begin this week with the letter F for Feathers and Fur. I can honestly say that I had no clothing or accessories that fell into either category until yesterday afternoon when Ilyssa and I stopped into Ulta and we found a snazzy hair clip/pin with polka dotted feathers and I put together the following outfit.

Also, I was  hoping to start taking pictures outside today for you all since 1. we are running out of corners of the apartment to take pictures in, and 2. I thought we could all use some more exciting scenery, but Mother Nature had other plans, so hope you enjoy this photo of me with our bookshelf and a prom-like photo of Jesse and me for today.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Happy Friday everybody! Today's ABC Style Challenge letter of the day is E for Everyone's Choice. Basically, if you wear clothes, you are good to go on this challenge. Since it would be weird if I didn't wear clothes to work, I decided to accept today's challenge. I think I passed with flying colors. What do you think?

Have a great weekend!


New Recipes!

Happy Friday! I have three new delicious recipes for you as you head into the weekend. All have been posted on my What's Cookin' page - Mighty Minestrone Soup and Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac from Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Pie from Cupcakes for Breakfast.

 The Mighty Minestrone Soup and Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac may be my favorite dishes I have cooked in the first 20 days of the year. The soup was so flavorful and healthy. It's a perfect recipe for vegetarians (and borderline vegetarians like myself) and the perfect winter dish. Olive Garden's got nothing on me! It also didn't take very long to prepare and make, so it's a good weekday option.

As for the Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac, I am super proud of this dish for a couple of reasons. First, it was my first recipe that I had to cut and cook two pounds of chicken by myself. For those of you who know me, you know that preparing chicken frightens me. I am always worried that I won't cook it enough and poison whoever is tasked with testing out the meal. I succeeded though, and Jesse and I both survived. I am also excited because this recipe makes a lot of servings, which means that when I make it again, and I will make it again because it's an easy and fantastic dish, it will reduce the amount of meals I need to cook for the week. Finally, this combines the best of the best meals - buffalo wings, and mac and cheese. How could you go wrong with that? Also, a lot of veggies are involved, so despite the pepper jack and blue cheese that is part of this recipe, I am counting this as a healthy meal.

Finally, this weekend we are headed to Pennsylvania to have a belated birthday celebration for my dad. He has always been a fan of the peanut butter and chocolate combo and enjoys a good cookie, so a Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Pie, although not super traditional, seems like the perfect birthday treat for my dad. Because it may look strange if a piece of the pie is missing when we present it to my dad, we decided not to taste test this one beforehand, but I am betting it's going to be pretty tasty.

Have a great weekend!

Mighty Minestrone Soup

Buffalo Chicken Chili Mac

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Thursday, January 19, 2012

D is for Dressed on a Dollar and Date Night!

Today's ABC Style Challenge letter of the day is D for Dressed on a Dollar. Basically, the goal is to put together an inexpensive, stylish outfit. My interpretation of this challenge was to put together an outfit consisting of either items I bought on super sale or bought full-price, but cost me less than $20. This is what I came up with:

Target Sweater (bought on sale a long time ago)/ Madewell Shirt/ J.Crew Skirt/ Target Tights/ DSW Shoes/ Watch and Bracelet Gifted/ Necklaces from J.Crew and Ann Taylor

Also, conveniently for me, the letter D also stands for Date Night. Jesse and I have made a point of having date nights at least once a week. I know once a week may not seem like a difficult goal to meet, but work schedules get nutty, unexpected things come up, and other things, like errands, exercising, and my list of 2012 resolutions can make fitting in just one date tough some weeks. Despite the logistical challenges, date nights are super important whether they are with significant others, friends, or just some quality time alone.

Jesse and I started up our regular date nights when we were in the midst of wedding planning. We kept getting caught up in the list of things we needed to do for the wedding, work, and other stuff, and began taking our relationship for granted and losing sight of what should have been most important to us. So, to get back on track we implemented date night Thursdays. Every Thursday we would go on a date. Our dates consisted of everything from dinner at a nice restaurant and a movie or working out together, to ordering pizza at home, but regardless of where we went or what we were doing, it helped us focus all of our attention on the other person and begin enjoying the fun part of our relationship all over again.

Since then, our schedules have changed, but we still manage to fit in a date night every week and luckily enough, our date night this week falls on our regularly scheduled date night Thursdays.

Date nights don't have to equal expensive. There are plenty of things to do on a budget. They also don't have equate to going out. I have lots of friends with young kids who have date nights at home.  Finally, date nights aren't just for couples. I regularly schedule "dates" with my girlfriends and I also try to make sure I have some time to myself each week also to keep everything balanced.

Hope you all have a chance to enjoy a date night sometime soon. I'm off to enjoy my date night dressed on a dollar!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Alphabet Style

Last week I took the EBEW challenge of the month of putting together an outfit of black and white. Then a couple of days ago, Kayla from My Greatest Hits invited me to participate in her ABC fashion challenge. Basically, each week day Kayla posts the letter and style theme and you prepare an outfit based on those parameters. I missed out on A and B, but figured C was a good starting place for me anyhow since I am Messy Jess C. The challenge for today - C is for Celebrity Inspired.

So here it is - my celebrity inspired outfit and the celebrities who inspired it - Cat Deely and Jessica Alba. I took the black top inspiration from Cat Deely, the white blazer idea from both of them, and the pant look from Jessica Alba. Jessica and I also share a name, so that's an extra bonus. Also, although I missed the B for Bows challenge from yesterday, I caught up with a bow blouse today - I get partial credit for that, right?

I will post my ABC Challenge outfits on my outfits page and plan on participating in the challenge through the letter L since that marks the end of the month, and the start of my 30 for 30 challenge (Feb 1). I may try to make my way through the rest of the alphabet after my 30 for 30, but will reevaluate at the beginning of March.

Also, please note that I do own clothing in colors other than black at white.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hot Potato

My favorite day of the week used to be Thursdays for the sole reason that Friends was on TV. When the show wrapped up after 10 seasons, I was devastated and didn't think I would ever find another show to replace the void left by the end of the most fantastic show on television ever. Although no shows truly compare to Friends, over time, I have managed to acquire several different "must see" shows, most of which fall on Tuesdays.

For the past month, my shows have been on hiatus, so I haven't had to worry about managing my time to incorporate eight hour work days, TV shows, track workouts, cooking, and other things. Tonight, however, most of my shows came back on - Glee, The New Girl, and Body of Proof (it was even more complicated when Dancing with the Stars was on).

So, I got home as quickly as possible, ran my track workout, got home in time to turn on Glee, prepare and make a delicious minestrone soup (I highly recommend testing out this recipe!), shower, watch the New Girl, and Body of Proof. That's some serious time management for you folks, and I am one hot potato (that's what you get when you cross a runner with a couch potato ;-)).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Give a Little Bit

Today I tackled six items on my 30 for 2012 list (numbers 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, and 15) by volunteering with Jesse and our friend Amy as part of the Martin Luther King Day of Service.

Each year I say that I want to volunteer more, and then before I know it, the year is over and I haven't done very much to help others. This year I have the goal of volunteering at least once a month, and the Martin Luther King Day of Service was the perfect opportunity to kick things off.

First, a quick history lesson. In 1994, Congress designated the federal holiday as a national day of service. Taking place on the third Monday in January, the Martin Luther King Day of Sercice is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service.

So, today, Jesse, Amy, and I, along with hundreds of other volunteers, attended Montgomery County's Day of Service where we put together sanitary kits and meals for the homeless, wrote letters to our troops and veterans, and made paper flowers for senior citizens for Valentine's Day.

We were only there for a couple of hours, and it was crowded, but I am happy we went. We were able to take the time to help and support others and we even learned about other volunteer opportunities we can check out throughout the year.

Afterward, Amy and I celebrated our hard work by seeing Beauty and the Beast 3D. Awesome.

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Recipes!

Hi friends! Get excited - I posted two new recipes to my What's Cookin' page - Pasta alla Vodka from Annie's Eats, and Caramel Apple Cider Cookies from Cookin' and Kickin'. Again, both recipes were super easy so I am pretty sure I will make both again.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn't let the vodka burn off enough in my Pasta alla Vodka creation, so it was a bit potent, but with another attempt, I think I can be a bit more patient and whip up a delicious pasta dish.

As for the cookies, I LOVE hot apple cider, and conveniently, I LOVE cookies also. Put them together and you have these amazing (and amazingly easy to make) cookies.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Wined and Dined

If you are wondering why I haven't posted many pictures of my adventures in cooking and recipes this week, it's because I haven't done much cooking. Don't worry - I haven't decided to give up just yet. Jesse and I are just lucky enough to have been wined and dined since Wednesday, starting with a home-cooked dinner with friends.

First, a little bit about our friends, hosts, and chefs Laura and Jeff. I almost positive Jeff is a covert gourmet chef (he won't admit to it, but has made dinner for us before and that too was amazing), and Laura is able to memorize recipes off the top of her head - something I am not sure I will ever be able to accomplish.

Laura and Jeff invited a few of us over for a dinner of pumpkin bisque, spinach salad, and spring vegetable ragout, followed by a dessert of donuts and ice cream, and everything was super tasty! So, although I cannot take any credit for their dishes, I felt that I had to share their recipes with you, and Laura and Jeff were kind enough to share them with me so I can do just that. You can view their recipes for the spinach salad, pumpkin soup, and spring vegetable ragout on my What's Cookin' page (if you are wondering how to make the donuts and ice cream, the recipe is actually very simple - find the closest Whole Foods and you can find them there).

After rolling out the door after our Wednesday night feast, our firm had a dinner dance yesterday evening. Since "dinner dance" was a bit too formal of a name for some of us around the office we nicknamed the event prom. I asked Jesse to be my prom date and thankfully he accepted. Once I had my date I set off to find, er borrow, a dress - thank you Ilyssa!  Next, the shoes - success at Target. Then the main event.

Prom was held at the Phoenix Park Hotel. Dinner was good! I always am a bit nervous with hotel food, but the salad wasn't bad, the dinner rolls were tasty, and the choices of salmon, beef, and the vegetarian option were very good. Because of my picky palate, I went with the veggie choice. It was a pastry stuffed with spinach and red pepper with a side of green beans and carrots and sweet potato mashed potatoes. It was pretty yummy.  Finally, for dessert we had a moist (sorry Liz), decadent chocolate cake - the perfect way to top off the meal, and I ate the entire thing!

Following the meal we got to rock out to Love Story. The duo had fantastic voices, and it turns out that I work at a firm of dancers - seriously, we would kick some serious bootie at a government relations dance competition!

Tonight we continue our wining and dining experience with dinner at another of our friends' house. They are also amazing cooks so I am hoping to have another delicious recipe to share with you all very soon.

Some Pictures from the week:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Do you all remember playing the game MASH growing up? Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House? You know… the one where you wrote down names of the people you wanted to marry, number of kids you wanted to have, places you wanted to  live, what kind of car you wanted to drive, and what jobs you wanted to have and then your future was whittled down to one item in each category?

In the many, many times I played the game I usually ended up living in a shack with the boy in school no one wanted to marry as my husband and our 264 kids, driving a punch buggy in Antarctica, supporting my family with my career as a bodyguard. 

Although the outcome tended to be less than desirable (although quite entertaining), it also made me think about others things I wanted to do when I grew up – places I wanted to travel to, languages I wanted to learn, people I hoped to meet.

Now that I am older, I am happy to report that my real life is playing out even better than I could have dreamed of when I was playing MASH in middle school. I am married to the best husband in the world, I drive a cute blue Honda Civic, I have a pretty sweet job, and we live in lovely apartment in DC (hey – it’s way better than a shack!). When the timing is right we will get to the kid thing, but I am pretty sure we will have less than 264. 

I have also begun to revisit the other things I wanted to do once I grew up – especially the places I want to travel to. After traveling to Europe for our honeymoon for the first time last August, I was bitten by the traveling bug, hard, and have begun to again think about all the places I want to visit.

Some of you know that I have deemed 2012 as the year of Jesse and Jess, since the past two years were out of control, insanely busy for both of us, and Jesse will soon be back in out of control, insanely busy mode when he heads back to school this fall, so we are going to make the most of the time in between, which includes some traveling. Traveling is also number seven on my 30 for 2012 list so I have to start thinking about this a bit more. Therefore, I have come up with the top 10 places I would like to see in 2012, which includes some of the places we are definitely traveling to, some places I have already visited, but enjoyed so much I would like to go back to, and some places I would love to visit for the first time. Additional suggestions welcome.

In no particular order:

Key West

Denver, CO

Savannah, GA


Paris, France
Grandfather Mountain (North Carolina)
New England
Chicago, IL

And of course, the Happiest Place on Earth - Disney World!
Oh, and I played MASH online to see if my fortune improved any - yep, the game is high-tech now - and the good news is I get to stay married to Jesse and live in apartment, but apparently I am destined to have 264 kids. Fortunately, I will be working as a Marine Biologist in California and can drive my kids, a few at a time, around in my orange limo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

EBEW: It's Black, It's White

What's black, white, and read all over? I will get to the answer of this question in a moment, but first, Happy Birthday Dad! Hope all of your birthday wishes come true. Thank you for all you do for me and our family. I love you.

Now on to the answer of my question...

As you are beginning to witness, I am usually up for a challenge. I am navigating my way through cooking, starting to bake more, running more track workouts, using my camera more and taking pictures each day, slowly becoming a better listener and working on complaining less. Now, for my latest challenge – Everybody Everywhere, or EBEW for short. 

EBEW is a blog that issues a style challenge once a month to enable bloggers to share their personal style and be inspired by other bloggers. This month’s challenge is Black and White. I have a ton of black and white in my closet, but this challenge was surprisingly much harder than I thought it would be. Most of my white clothing is part of my summer wardrobe and most of my black is in suit form – boring with a plain ol’ white shirt. I thought about including some color, but I wanted my first EBEW challenge to be authentic so I stuck with black and white and after an hour of pulling everything out of my closet, trying it on, putting it all back, rinsing and repeating, I came up with today’s outfit. Let me know what you think. Oh, and as for the answer to what's read all over? My blog of course...bah dah dum.

p.s. I apologize in advance for my totally awkward pose, poor quality photo, and lovely backdrop. I am hoping to start channeling my inner supermodel as I begin making my way through my Winter 30 for 30.