Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Flicks: Documentary Edition

If you're in a documentary-watching mood this weekend, here are two I've really enjoyed. Coincidentally, they're both about one of my favorite topics ever: food. 

I actually convinced Alan to watch Kings of Pastry with me last weekend. It's about three professional chefs who are training to compete in this prestigious pastry competition, the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (aka Best Craftsmen in France). Winning and being named a MOF is an incredible achievement. It's amazing to see how passionate and meticulous the chefs are about their craft. At one point near the end I actually cried. Alan called the movie heartbreaking. And, let's not forget, it's all about pastry. Have you ever cried while watching someone bake? That's how intense this movie was. (Available on Netflix Watch Instantly)

I put off watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead for a long time because I think fad diets are kinda dumb. (It's a movie all about juicing). But then one day I was at home sick, laying on my couch, and wishing for nothing more than to be able to breathe properly through my nose, and I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be a really good reminder of the power of micronutrients and made me more conscious about eating more fruits and veggies. It's pretty interesting to see how the main characters' bodies transform and how their health skyrockets from all that juice. (Available on Netflix Watch Instantly)

Do you watch documentaries? (Alan thinks they're just so-so). Have you seen one or the other? Or any other good ones lately?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Golden Touch

I remember I was always more of a silver fan, but then in college that all changed when I started wearing more gold jewelry. Now it's found its way into almost all aspects of my life. From dainty swan-shaped craft scissors to sparkly nails to quirky parrot letter openers, gold accents add a bit of fun glamour to every day objects. Do you lean more towards wearing silver or gold? What about when it comes to decorating?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Colorful Surprises

Yesterday, I was at Target with Nathalie and loved the ceiling installation that greeted us when we walked in. Color really does change everything, doesn't it? Especially when you're least expecting it. Just for fun, I did a little round-up of colorful surprises because they're one of my favorite kind.

 {rainbow carrots would be fun to plant and to surprise you every time you pulled one out of the ground}



 {pretty purse lining}

{on a trip to the bank}


{cute silk undies only you can see}

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Friday-night-date dress

What a pretty dress. Wouldn't this be fun to wear on a dinner date with your hair pulled up?

The perfect blouse

Every time I'd see someone wearing an Equipment blouse on the blogosphere, they always looked amazing regardless of how they were styled. They look chic worn untucked with pants or pretty and feminine tucked into a skirt. I'd been lusting over them for a long time when I finally thought to myself What would my mom do? That made my decision to add one to my closet a lot easier since she always says that timeless, high-quality pieces are worth the investment. I bought this one in a classic nude because I figured it'd go with everything. It falls perfectly and fits just right across the shoulders. I wore it with this fancy cocktail ring (borrowed from my mom...indefinitely) and felt like a million bucks even while doing something as mundane as running errands all afternoon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mini Apple Pies

Did you watch the Mad Men premier last night? Wasn't Sterling hilarious? We watched it at our friends' house and brought over apple pie and deviled eggs. Since it was a party, I wanted to make dessert easy for everyone to eat while watching the show and made these teeny apple pies. I cheated a bit and used store-bought pie dough, but they turned out really good. Like all the goodness of a regular apple pie squeezed into a cute little package. When I tested the recipe out on Saturday night, I minced the apple pieces but that made the pies a little too reminiscent of McDonald's apple pies. For these little guys, I'd recommend a rough chop for the apples to keep them nice and rustic. They're made in a muffin tin and are possibly the cutest thing I've baked this year.

Mini Apple Pies
(Adapted from Knit and Bake)  

Dough:
3 "unroll and bake" 9" pie crusts


Filling:
4 large Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tbs flour
2 tsp vanilla extract

Unroll the dough. Using a cup or small bowl that's about 3/4" larger than the circumference of each muffin cup, cut out 12 circles of dough. Place each circle in the ungreased muffin tin and prick the bottoms of each. Reserve dough scraps in case you need more strips for the lattice tops.

Peel and roughly chop apples into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, flour, and vanilla extract. Fill each muffin cup to the top with apple mixture.

Using the remaining dough, cut out small strips to create the lattice top over the mini apple pies. Each mini pie top needs 6-8 small strips. I always reference this chart to remember how to create lattices.

Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until they start bubbling and the top turns golden brown.


p.s. I didn't get any pictures, but this is the recipe I used for the bacon deviled eggs. The bacon garnish adds a really nice texture and burst of flavor.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Have a Swingin' Weekend

This weekend we will be making apple pie and deviled eggs for our friends' Mad Men premier party on Sunday night (I can't wait!). Will you be watching the season opener? Other than that I'm excited to spend time at home working on a few projects including giving our side table a makeover with a fresh coat of paint—I'm leaning towards this pretty color—and looking for a bed frame. This hanging bed from Anthropologie looks awesome, but I'd totally appreciate other suggestions for cool (and more affordable) places to look if anyone has any.

{Bottom photo via Little Green Notebook}

Color!

Yesterday was the first time I wore these bright pants, and since I don't usually wear such splashy bottoms, I figured it was only right to wear an equally bright top. When I got dressed in the morning, Alan said it looked like I was dressed for a PBS kid's show which I took as a great compliment. Growing up, I always thought everyone on Sesame Street was having such a ball!   

{I'm wearing Gap fuchsia jeans and boots, Madewell sweater, H&M blouse}

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Office Talk: How do you stay fit working at a desk all day?

Now that swimsuit season is just a few months away, I'm trying to squeeze in exercise whenever I can. The hard part is that office life isn't very conducive to getting abs like this and I abhor the gym. In college I'd go to the gym every day—no matter what—which has left me with a permanent aversion. Luckily one healthy habit from college has stuck with me which is my love for walking. Everyone would complain about UCLA's hilly campus (I would, too), but looking back, being able to walk or take a short bus ride everywhere you needed to go was pretty rad. Since I've started working, I always try to find a friend to go on a lunch walk with me. I hit the jackpot at Coupons.com since just about my entire team likes getting out after lunch. We do a 1.8 mile loop almost every day. I know some people hate walking, but it's one of my favorite forms of exercise, especially when you consider that:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Couples activity: Reading together

Alan and I started reading another book together. This one is Murakami's latest novel, 1Q84. We've read many of the same books before but have only read a book together once, reaching the end at about the same time. We hadn't plan on doing it, but we both somehow got sucked into the story and couldn't stop reading. (It was this book). Since it was so much fun we decided to do it again. It's kind of like the experience of watching a movie together except it's at each person's own pace which I think makes things a lot more interesting. You can either feel really antsy if you have to wait for the other person to catch up to where you are or really excited if you can tell from the other person that you're about to get to a juicy turning point in the story. Have you ever done it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Heirloom rings

Lately I've been obsessed with heirloom rings. Whenever I see someone wearing a pretty ring, I have to ask them if there's a story behind it. And I love it when there is, even—maybe even especially—if it's just a simple one, like that it's their husband's grandma's ring. These are the hands of my friends Stacy and Jill; they're both wearing heirloom rings from their grandmas. Aren't they sweet? My mom gave me this ring which belonged to my great grandmother and I wear it every day. I can't wait to pass it on to my own daughter someday.

What-if movies

Pascal Witaszek is a French art director who creates movie posters for yet-to-be-made films. It's fun to see who he casts in these imaginary movies, like Ryan Gosling as Walt Disney and Olivia Wilde as Elizabeth Taylor. Isn't she a dead ringer for Liz here? I'd probably watch just about anything with Ryan Gosling in it (wouldn't you? you be the judge), but seeing him play Disney would be pretty fun.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring mint

Today is the first day of spring—yippee! It's been rainy and overcast here for the past week so it doesn't really feel like the beginning of a new season, but I'm excited anyway. I've been wearing this vintage nameplate bracelet which is a nice reminder of one of my favorite women of all time (my mom), more of this cozy sweatshirt, and and these minty fresh jeans (don't they have spring written all over them?)

{Wearing: Gap sweatshirt, J. Crew blouse, BDG jeans, Frye boots, Diament Jewelry bracelet, Paul and Joe Sister bag}

p.s. If you'd care to, you can also Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Flicks: Take Shelter, The Skin I Live In, and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Alan and I watch a lot of movies. Ordering take out and curling up in our living room is one of our favorite things to do. Ever since we set up our own cozy home theater, we watch a lot of movies on Netflix Watch Instantly or through Amazon Instant Video. I thought it'd be fun to start sharing some of the movies I really enjoy here in case you, too, love dimming the lights and getting wrapped up in a flickering story after a long week. (Note: since we hardly watch movies in theaters anymore, most of my movie recommendations will be movies already out on DVD. Just thought I'd mention that in case you are a huge theater-goer and have already seen all these!). 

Take Shelter is about a young dad and husband who lives a simple life in a small town. He starts having apocalyptic visions of a massively destructive storm and becomes obsessed with building a shelter for him and his family. It's a quiet movie that's a tad slow, but it's beautifully shot, well-acted, and the building tension and uncertainty of what his visions mean make it thoroughly eerie and haunting.  

The Skin I Live In is dark and twisted, but also quirky in its own way. It's about a plastic surgeon who has obsessed for years over creating the perfect artificial skin that could have saved his wife who had been horribly burned years ago. When he finally creates the perfect skin, he finds a surprising candidate to test it out on. Full of shocking twists, this movie's story was quick and clever. It also doesn't hurt that the two main characters, Antonia Banderas and Elena Anaya, are both gorgeous.

One movie genre I don't watch much of is comedy. Not that I don't like to laugh but finding a good comedy to watch is hard for me. So I was really surprised when my cousin Nathalie recommended I watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil  and found that I laughed out loud the entire movie. The two main characters — Tucker and Dale — are the most adorable hillbillies who find themselves in these absurd, hilarious predicaments when all they're trying to do is relax in their remote vacation cabin. (Available on Netflix Watch Instantly).

Have you seen, or would you watch, any of these? Do you have any movie recommendations for me? We're always looking for good movies to watch, so I'd love to hear! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy hands

{fresh Essie manicure}

I read somewhere that the owner of one of my favorite restaurants has just three fingers on his left hand. The few times I've seen him I've never noticed because the food is so amazing that when I'm there I'm happily lost in my perfectly cooked sea bass or dreamy foie gras. It did make me see my own hands in a new light, though, and since I'm getting older and noticing new wrinkles where there weren't wrinkles before, I'm trying to take better care of them. Whenever I can remember, I put sunscreen on them if I'm going outdoors for an extended time (a great tip my friend Stacy shared with me—it's all about prevention!). Here are a few other things at the top of my hand-pampering list at the moment.  

{vintage Erica Weiner rhinestone bauble—I love that it reminds me of the rings you get for 25 cents next to the gum ball machines at the grocery store}

 {favorite hand creams by Kiehl's and L'Occitane}

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon

My family never ate brussels sprouts while I was growing up, so I never had the same averse reaction to them as most other people I know. (But rest assured we had tons of other dinner items I probably found as equally horrifying — stingray, anyone?) When I'd see them at the grocery store, I'd ask my mom about them because I loved their miniature cabbage shape, but she'd always push the cart right past them. After a life devoid of these veggies for the past few decades, they didn't make their way back onto my radar until just this year. In January I had the best brussels sprouts I've ever tasted at Murray Circle and then had wonderfully crispy brussels sprouts at Nick's earlier this month. How could I be such a fan and not have known it all these years? I came across this brussels sprouts with bacon recipe in Bon Appetit and knew I had to make it. They were easy to whip up, and the end result was a tasty gourmet vegetable that even Alan liked. These are my new favorite vegetable and side dish. 

 {photos by Quiet Like Horses}

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Office Talk: Neon Mouse Pads

I posted about wearing neon last week, and now I can't get enough of it. These chic leather mouse pads are so glee-inducing I think everyone should have one at their desk. Which color would you choose?

To Taupe It All Off

The last time I wore this skirt to the office, someone on my team asked me why I was wearing something so extra fancy. That's how I knew it'd be the perfect piece to pair with this slubby sweatshirt. I picked it up during the Gap Friends & Family sale this past weekend and love how soft and comfy it is. It almost felt like I was cheating when I got dressed for work in the morning. Thank goodness for those fancy pleats!

{Wearing Gap sweatshirt, Therapy skirt, Gibson blazer, Anthropologie necklace, J. Crew belt, Sam Edelman flats}

Monday, March 12, 2012

The bird and the bees: A honey lesson

My office manager Muriel is awesome for a few reasons. Here is just a short list:
1) She is French. And because I have a healthy obsession with French people, butter and cheese (though I have never tasted the latter two but imagine them to taste at least 10 times better than the butter and cheese we have here), this puts Muriel near the top of my list of cool and sophisticated people. 
2) She is thoughtful and leaves movies she thinks I might enjoy on my desk chair.
3) She has amazing style and wears her hair in a pixie cut. 
4) She invites me over to her house for honey harvesting. Her and her husband keep bees and they have a few colonies on their property. Since it was time for a winter honey harvest, we were invited over to see how that all happens and to help with the process.

The bees live in these colorful boxes in their backyard. By the way, their backyard is huge and serene (with chickens, a vegetable garden, succulents, a hammock lounging area, and picnic tables) and butts up against a creek so they don't have any neighbors behind them. Muriel's husband Stefan rides his unicycle the seven miles to work along the creek trail. (So cool!) 

Stefan wears a mask to protect his face but notice he's not wearing gloves. That would freak me out, but he says he's been handling the bees for so long he's comfortable doing it and it gives him more control. 

Inside the colorful boxes are panels just like this one. The bees build honeycombs on them that they then fill with honey. Alan stood way back when Stefan showed us the bees up close. To my surprise, they stayed on the panel and weren't as intimidating as I'd feared.

When the panels are laden with honey, the bees cap off the honeycombs so that the honey is neatly contained within. We took a small tool and carefully "raked" the tops of the honeycombs to uncap them.

And the beautiful honey spilled out.

The uncapped panels get placed in a honey extractor. Before this, I had assumed the honeycombs were put in a machine that squished the honey out (kinda like the machines that squish grapes for wine), but this honey extractor spins the honey out. This helps keep the empty honeycombs intact on the panels so the bees can get right back to making more honey instead of wasting energy on re-building the honeycombs. 

At the bottom of the extractor is a spout from which the glorious honey spills. A strainer helps to remove large bits of wax from the honey. 

While the honey filtered, we went inside and had espresso with honey, a summer batch and much more light and clear than the dark amber kind we were waiting to jar outside. We learned about how no two batches of honey ever taste the same and how sometimes the honey tastes like citrus or fennel depending on what flowers the bees visit that season.

Alan and I rushed home with our honey and immediately ate some over hot buttered toast. We had some of this bread in the freezer which was a nice, hearty accompaniment to the sweet, floral honey. There's something special and extra delicious about pure, local honey.
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