Friday, July 30, 2010

A Camping We Will Go

I have been camping a total of 2 times in my life. Even though I don't think I entirely like it, it is an intriguing concept to me, and it always looks fun in the movies. The first time I went was at Yosemite in 2005, and even then my friends told me it wasn't real camping since the first night we slept in pre-pitched tent cabins. We had been planning on spending our second night camping in our own tents, but then my friend Keith and his then girlfriend got stuck up on the trail overnight on the way back from Half Dome, and so we slept in a close-by hotel to wait for them.

The second time I went camping was a few years later, and Alan broke the news that this was also not to be considered real camping. He called it car camping -- the kind of camping where you park your car and pitch your tent next to facilities where you can take hot showers, flush the toilet and buy granola bars from vending machines.

This weekend we are going camping with friends at Lake Amador. You might think that the third time's a charm, that this time I might get to experience "real" camping, but I read on the website that this campsite even has its own cafe. At this rate, I do expect that the next time I go camping, we will have a full-service butler and a driver to pick us up from our hikes. But until then, I am super excited for this trip to go swimming in the huge lake -- it's going to be in the 90s up there! I hope it will be as awesome as Jacinta's dip above -- she took this picture while swimming in Cinque Terre. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?

Have a happy weekend!

(Photo by bawkbawkbawk)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons

I am embarrassed to admit that the succession of what I ate yesterday afternoon went something like this: chips-> pizza-> brownie cookies-> Oreos. I think I squeezed a peach in there somewhere, so it wasn't really all that bad, but I still felt I owed it to my stomach to eat something with substance. A home cooked meal was in order, and I knew I wanted to use these lemons Denise had given me from her tree. Lemon is such a perfect flavor for summer. It keeps things nice and light. In fact, if lemons had a middle name, it would be Refreshing.

I made garlic roast chicken with rosemary and lemon (a recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray). Seriously, maybe I am just the slowest cook ever, but I have no idea how she makes all her meals in 30 minutes. Mine took so much longer!

Greens taste so much better when all you've eaten all day is hydrogenated oils and canned pineapple chunks.

Who knew lemon zest, rosemary and crushed garlic over seared chicken could be so pretty?

It was pretty tasty, had a strong lemon flavor, and the chicken was definitely moist. It was also simple and easy to make which is nice for when you want to have extra time to read, do laundry, or watch bad television (Teen Mom, anyone?)

My favorite part of cooking the meal was the very end when I used the extra lemon to wash my hands with (a little trick I picked up from my mom). The smell of fresh lemons is so irresistible, I couldn't stop smelling my hands the entire night!

Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon
(As adapted from Rachel Ray's recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks (I used chicken thighs still on the bone which made it harder to cut into chunks, but that's what we had in the fridge so I improvised)
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves stripped from stems
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced (I don't have a zester, but I do have one very sharp knife which I believe gets you a close enough result)
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning) or, coarse salt and black pepper (I used salt and pepper and threw in some onion powder for some flair)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth (I used chicken broth)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sear chicken for color. Arrange chicken in a baking dish, 9 by 13-inch. Add garlic, rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper to the dish. Toss and coat the chicken with all ingredients, then place in oven. Roast 20-30 minutes. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the dish and combine with pan juices. Return to oven and turn oven off. Let stand 5 minutes longer then remove chicken from the oven. Place baking dish on trivet and serve, spooning pan juices over the chicken pieces.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Paperless Post

Beautiful invitations are an important factor to consider when throwing a party you hope people will remember. As popular as Evites are, I've found Paperless Post to be a much chicer online invitation service. They help you create and send adorable online invites, save the dates and thank you cards (just to name a few) that channel the artful craft of traditional paper correspondence. When guests receive invitations, it comes to them in an "envelope" that, when clicked on, slowly opens to reveal your invitation. They have so many great designs, fonts and extras like envelope liners (think Paper Source) that I may never use Evite again! Here are the invitations I created for my re-launch party.


This is the envelope guests receive in their email inbox. I hope David can make it-- I would be so tickled!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Party Inspiration

Next week, I am rolling out my new blog layout, and I'm very excited. It's more than just a new layout though, I've also re-directed the focus of my blog. 2009 and the first half of 2010 were just way too sad and filled with hospitals and scary moments. So now I'm blogging about the things that make me happy in life, that make me sit up straighter and type with purpose. And I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

To celebrate, I'm planning a wee leettle re-launch party next Saturday. I love thoughtful event styling and want to be able to style and create my own special moment. So that's what I'm doing. Of course, I want to share it with all of you. First, I'd like to share some of the parties and details which have inspired me. :)





photo credits, from top to bottom:
photo from 18 Reason's Facebook page as seen on Oh Happy Day!
photo via frolic!
photo by BrancoPrata via Twig & Thistle
photo by Ashley Meaders via you are my fave
photo by i am baker via Sweet Designs and The Sweetest Occasion

(side note: I just learned how to properly credit images and sources and it's a bit time consuming isn't it?)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tie It Up

In the summer, the best outfits are the ones that breathe. I wore one of my favorite cotton skirts with a light cotton blouse to San Francisco on Friday to beat the heat. Except (despite the fact that I grew up in the Bay Area and should know better) there was no heat to beat in San Francisco. Quite the opposite, actually. As we got closer to the City, we saw what I hoped was a spectacularly thick layer of cream cheese frosting covering the mountains, trees, the entire sky. But it turned out to just be a really dense fog which apparently had decided to swallow the sun. By the time we got to the City, everything was cloaked in darkness. Out the car window, we saw the saddest people waiting to catch their buses home all bundled in peacoats -- peacoats! in July! Some even had their scarves wrapped around their faces. If that is not the saddest summer sight to behold, I don't know what is.

Old Navy tie shirt found in clearance, marked down three times. Purple skirt from Therapy. Romantic Soles heels.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Sweet Goodbye


While some may think it's best to keep goodbye parties short and sweet, my friend Preethi decided small and sweet was the better way to go (and she was so right). She's moving to D.C. this month, and at her party, she served dangerously delicious, tiny, bite-size desserts.

These chocolate chip cookies were so small they were about the size of quarters! Even though they were teeny they were still really soft and moist.

I could have eaten about a gazillion of these mini, super moist black bottom cupcakes, but I decided to be nice and leave some for others. Even Alan, who doesn't like chocolate, loved these. They inspired him to learn how to make carrot cake bottomed cupcakes.

My favorite dessert of the night had to be the mini fruit tart bar. Preethi made her very own lemon curd (sooo delish)!


I'll miss you, Preethi and Birt!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blending In

Anthropologie necklace and silk shirt. Thrited 7 For All Mankind jeans.

My most traveled friend Thai recently told me that he was going to be late meeting me for dinner because he was at the rose garden enjoying the sun. Then he told me that he would be just a minute, he being just down the street sunbathing in the rose garden. Well, I had never seen a rose garden in my neighborhood (although I now faintly remember hearing of people getting married here), so with scenes from The Secret Garden playing out in my head, this week Alan and I went and checked it out. The garden was in full bloom and luckily enough I was dressed quite appropriately.

Holy Clash of the Titans! This collage of blooms has a mighty many colors, but I promise you, all the different colors come together so much better in the actual garden.

Rows and rows of roses. I was jealous of all the space they had. So quiet and perfectly lit. Alan was jealous of the kids who had a motorized toy boat that they were sailing around in the fountain. I know. We're working on getting our jealousy in check.

Wise words from the sundial.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eat, Drink & Be Married


This week, I received two wedding invitations on the same day. Some people might let this get to their heads thinking about how very popular they are. (Okay, so maybe I am one of those people, but I promise I got over it much faster than most other respectable people would). I love how wedding invites can tell you so much about the person getting married.

The first wedding is my friend Jennifer's. She is the absolute cutest. Everybody says so. I mean, look at this wedding invitation. Isn't it just dripping of cuteness? I was really careful in opening the envelope so that I could savor all the details -- the font, the zig zag stitch, the colors, the way "Big Day" is highlighted. I just can't get enough. I also can't wait to see her dress -- I'm sure it's going to be absolutely stunning.


The second wedding is my friend Stephanie's. She says she's a no frills bride, but she's also a lot of fun. I like how that shines through in this simple invitation with its mini "Welcome to Vegas" sign. I'm already starting to picture the buffets, the go-go dancers, the drinks with the crazy straws...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Secretary's Missing Cat Poster

Today is Tuesday and for getting dressed and showing up on time we all deserve a good laugh or two. Now I know not all of you read Joanna Goddard's blog, and for those of you who don't, I urge you to please, please read this story about a secretary's missing cat poster which I found via Joanna's blog. It is so incredibly funny that I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe and tears were rolling down my face. (Although last week, when I choked on my tortilla soup, I had a cough attack and also had tears streaming down my face, but that was different and another kind of funny).

Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Friday Night Super Tacos

Some time ago, I was in search of culinary inspiration and asked my readers for good food blog suggestions. One of you beautiful people told me about The Pioneer Woman and ever since then I have been hooked. She's really inspired me to take better pictures of the food I make which I'm finding to be harder than it looks. I blame it all on the really bad lighting in my kitchen.

Also, can I just say that I have been so absorbed by the "cooking" section of her website, that I just discovered and started reading the "confessions" section yesterday? She makes me chuckle every other sentence and sorta makes me wish that I lived on a ranch could visit a ranch for a weekend.

So anyway, this weekend, Alan and I did a lot of dining in in my attempt to spare restaurant-goers from my constant nose blowing and sad, weary face. On Friday, one of us had the foresight to thaw some beef (leftover from a beef stew we had made a while back) which meant that we needed to get clever since neither of us cooks much with beef. I wanted to see what we could make with $10, and as it turns out, a whole lotta deliciousness.

Alan chopped up the meat into bite sized pieces and sauteed it with garlic and onions. He seasoned using salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Then, for good measure, he threw the entire can of beans right into the pan. He lives on the edge, that Alan.

Meanwhile, I prepared our taco toppings. Must haves in a beef taco are sliced avocado, onions, cilantro and a spritz of lime. I also heated the corn tortillas on the stove on high.

After cooking the meat and beans to a taco-y consistency, we were ready to assemble and chow down. We ate our dinner while watching The Princess and The Frog (because nothing says Fiesta like a Disney movie!) Anyway, I'd highly recommend it, it was so cute.

Friday Night Super Tacos
Yields: 9 tacos

Ingredients:
A can of pinto beans $1.09
Avocado $0.99
Corn tortillas $2.79
Cilantro $1.79
1 onion $0.99
2 limes $0.58
Beef (leftover from another recipe) $0.00
Shredded cheese (from our never ending Costco supply) $0.00

Total $8.23

I was really tickled with how great these turned out and how budget friendly they were. As a point of comparison, the going rate for super tacos at our favorite local taqueria is $3 a pop. If we had gone out for tacos, for $8.23, we could have had any combination of the following: 1 taco each and 1 Coke, 2 tacos for me and none for Alan, 1/2 a taco for me, 1/2 for Alan, and a game of Rochambeau for the second taco, or a large basket of chips with guacamole. While these could all make for decent meals, none are as satisfying as the six tacos we ate between the two of us for dinner that night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On a Plain White Tee Kick

(Forever 21 tee, Urban Outfitters belt)

I spent most of this weekend in my pajamas cuddling with a box of Kleenex and clutching a bottle of DayQuil because of a really bad cold that started on Friday. Whenever I feel down in the dumps and have to resist the urge to show up to work in a pair of sweats, I like to keep things simple. An oversized white tee does the trick quite nicely.

One thing about being sick is that it makes soup taste so good.


Lunch date with Nat. Aren't her tiny bow earrings darling?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bartering with Nordstrom

When I was a senior in high school, I was a proud member of the Nordstrom BP. Fashion Board. It was the closest I've ever gotten to being in a sorority. We were a gaggle of teenage girls who would meet once a month to talk about the latest trends and smell the newest perfumes. Our pictures were hung on a wall in the juniors' dressing room. We even put on a fashion show. But the most memorable moment of all was the Anniversary sale when we got to take advantage of the employee discount. Today, I no longer have the discount, but I'm still just as excited about the Anniversary Sale which starts tomorrow. Above are a few of my top picks from their catalog preview. Hopefully Nordstrom will be willing to barter with me for a new pair of boots. I don't have much to give, but we sure do have a lot of Kirkland toilet paper in the closet (the benefits of buying in bulk).

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto






Tonight the cousins and I gathered to start planning out our trip to Asia in January of next year. But first we had to eat dinner, so I helped Justin make this mean risotto. If you like mushrooms, pancetta and wine, do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Make this mushroom risotto first and worry about the rest later. Trust me.

This recipe calls for porcini mushrooms and pancetta. Both fun words to say, don't you think?


Making risotto is truly a labor of love. There is lots of pouring liquids into the pan to be absorbed into the rice and burned off. And stirring. Lots of that, too.


But it is so good and so worth it.

Serving suggestion: Decadent dinners should always be immediately followed (or in our case preceded) by decadent desserts. Denise made Nat a red velvet cake with homemade cream cheese frosting for her birthday. (I suggested the "firework" sprinkle design expertly executed here).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Tees Go To Work





(Forever 21 v-neck tee, Banana Republic slacks, Dolce Vita shoes, Kersh cardigan, Kate Spade bag, La Vie necklace)
The Look: I like dressing up everyday items, like this plain white tee, to turn them into work appropriate attire for my business casual office. With grey slacks, black wedges and a bright cardigan in the mix, you might not ever have guessed that this t-shirt cost just a little more than $5. (And if you had, well, then, you are clever. But! But. Betcha didn't know that there's a stain on the neck because I can also be clever and have hid the orange stain behind this necklace -- ah ha!)






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