Thursday, January 31, 2013

Which Bad TV Shows Do You Watch?

Do you watch any shows that are so bad they're good? My current guilty pleasure is Teen Mom 2. Alan always gets on my case whenever I watch it, but I can't help it! Two people at work admitted their guiltiest pleasure is Buckwild, which they both agreed has to be the worst show on television right now. (Of course, I had to watch a trailer. They weren't joking.) Which ones do you watch? If you don't watch any, I applaud you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Garlicky Salami & Mushroom Pizza

easy homemade pizza
homemade salami and mushroom pizza
On Friday nights, sometimes there's nothing better than curling up on the couch to relax with a movie and a pizza. We'd always order from a pizzeria because I was convinced making homemade dough would be a chore. Happily, I discovered this dough recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a few weeks ago which is a snap to pull together (just remember to make it the morning of or the night before). It makes me want to have pizza every night! My favorite pie so far is made with a garlicky olive oil sauce, instead of traditional marinara, and is topped with lots of mozzarella cheese, salami, mushrooms and fresh basil.

Garlicky Salami & Mushroom Pizza 
(Pizza dough recipe by The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

Yield: one 12-ounce dough, making one thin 9-by-13 inch loosely rectangular pizza

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 to 116 degrees)
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for counter
1 teaspoon table salt
Olive oil, for coating bowl

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (I like using my garlic press to create a garlic paste)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 ounces (115 to 140 grams) mozzarella, grated
A few slices of salami
1/2 cup of mushrooms
Few fresh basil leaves, torn into bits

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, then salt, and mix with a wooden spoon until a rough, craggy mass forms. Turn dough and any loose bits out onto lightly floured counter, and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, elastic dough forms.

Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. When you're ready to use it, remove it from the fridge, let it come back to room temperature, and turn your oven on to warm (about 200 to 225 degrees) for 5 minutes; then turn it off. Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until doubled.

Once the dough has finished doubling, remove from oven. Stretch dough out haphazardly to fill prepared 9x13 rectangular baking sheet.

Preheat oven to its highest temperature. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pan until hot. Lightly sauté mushrooms for 2-3 minutes and remove from heat. In a small bowl, add garlic and remaining olive oil and stir to combine. Using a pastry brush, spread dough with garlic olive oil sauce, leaving a small margin at edges, then top with mozzarella. Add sliced salami, followed by mushrooms. Bake pizza for 7 to 11 minutes until bubbly and a bit brown on top. Sprinkle with basil and slice into squares.

easy homemade pizza dough

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Case of the Giggles

how to stop the giggles
the giggles
What makes you giggle? I always seem to get the giggles at the most ridiculous times, like in meetings at work. Does that happen to you, too? I was in a meeting once when I realized that the person I was talking to looked just like Billy Bob Thornton. I don't know why it was so funny, but I could feel the giggles building up inside me, and I had to pinch myself to keep from breaking out into uncontrollable laughter. Another time, I asked my sister to do my eye makeup and couldn't stop laughing when I realized how close she had to get to my eyeballs with pointy little brushes. The more I tried to stop, the more I couldn't. 

In this interesting article about laughter, Robert Provine, the author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, explains, “Laughter is not under much conscience control. We don’t decide to laugh, it just happens. Most laughter is for no reason; it’s not a response to a joke. It’s a response to other people.” He also says that "cracking up – even at a funeral or formal state event – isn’t all that unusual." (Which is comforting to know if it ever happened to you but would still be so terribly awkward!) The best way to stop a laughing fit, he says, is simply to go off by yourself. 

Do you get the giggles? Does it ever happen to you at awkward moments? What's the last thing that set them off?  

p.s. read the comments on the article – it happens to all of us! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fantastically Bold Eyebrows

thick eyebrows
bold eyebrows
audrey eyebrows
When I was living in L.A., I had a good friend who was stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful. We'd be walking to lunch, and people would come up just to tell her how pretty she was. I always thought  her great thick eyebrows were what really set her apart. I'm trying to grow mine out, but they don't  seem to have gotten the memo! (I wonder if this is how guys who can't grow facial hair feel?) To help me cope with my eyebrow envy, I started using an eyebrow pencil (this one looks soft and natural) to fill in any sparse areas, and now I don't know how I lived without one for so long.

Would you wear big bold brows? How do you shape yours? 

{bold-ish brows}

(top photo by the Shopbop blog, second photo by Gary Pepper, third photo source unknown, bottom photo by Quiet Like Horses)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Blueberry Scones

flaky blueberry scones
moist and dense blueberry scones
How do you feel about scones? They seem like one of those foods people either love or hate. They're buttery, light, flaky, dense, moist and dry—all at the same time. (Is that even possible?) Sconehenge Bakery makes my favorite scones, which you can buy at Whole Foods here in the Bay Area. I've tried three different recipes to see if I can replicate them at home. I haven't quite found it yet, but here are the two delicious recipes I've tried so far...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Most Comfortable, Stylish & Affordable Wedges

blue suede bandolino transpose
Bandolino Transpose are the best wedges. Usually, I can only wear heels for an hour or two before they start killing my feet, but I can wear these for an entire workday. Bonus points: They remind me of J. Crew's Martina suede wedges but at a quarter of the price (they run around $50 vs. J. Crew's $228). I wear them with everything, from dresses and skirts to jeans and trousers. Finding comfortable, stylish and affordable shoes is always super exciting to me so I just had to share :)

j. crew knockoff wedges

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

San Francisco Lunch Date

I had a lunch date this weekend with my friend Jennifer, who lives an hour away in the City. She picked a restaurant in the Dogpatch neighborhood which I'd never been to and was excited to visit. Here's how we spent the afternoon...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

3D Nail Art

3d cupcake nail art
silver rhinestone and glitter accent nail
cute nail art
cupcake nail art
Remember the "build-a-fun-day" order form I gave my sister for Christmas? She wanted to get a manicure at Vivian's Nail Bar which specializes in 3D nail art. You can get bows, polka dots, sharks, flowers, your favorite baseball team—anything your heart desires can be molded into miniature nail designs. Sophie picked a pretty lavender color accented by rhinestones, confetti glitter and a cupcake! My inner younger self had total nail envy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Reversible Quilt

Anthropologie Arrosa quilt
Anthropologie reversible quilt
We just got a new quilt for the chilly winter nights (Alan jokes I like to keep the apartment the temperature of an ice castle, but I'm just trying to keep our gas bill down, ha!) I'd been eyeing this one from Anthropologie for a while, and happily, it went on major sale. My favorite part is that it's reversible :)

p.s. this one's also really pretty (and on sale!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Who Would You Pick to Be Your Bridesmaids?

I've always wondered how people pick their bridesmaids. Would you pick your best friends? Your sisters? Here are three different ways you could choose—I find them all intriguing!

1) Don't have any. I always thought I'd have a few bridesmaids, but this summer I went to my friend Preethi's wedding and loved that she didn't have a wedding party. It was just her and her husband standing together, and it looked so sweet and intimate. "The main reason I decided to not have bridesmaids was that we had two weddings, and we wanted to keep it simple," Preethi said.

2) Choose a mix of friends and family. When my cousin Denise got married, she picked her sister-in-law, two friends who had a "calming effect" on her, and me and our cousin Nathalie. "Originally, I wanted just my cousins to be my bridesmaids. Unfortunately, Justin had more than two groomsmen so I had to pick two of my friends as well. It was a really tough decision because I have so many friends that I wanted to include, but I wanted to keep the wedding party small," she said.

3) Pick a good friend from each important stage in your life. My friend Pearl told me about this option which I think is brilliant. You could pick your friend from jr. high whom you used to write 3-page notes to (front and back) during history class, your college friend who you'd stay up late watching Sex and the City and eating Cheetos with, and your friend from your early 20s who consistently made you feel better about not knowing what to do with your life. It would be wonderful to be surrounded by all the women who've played a role in shaping the person you are today.

Who would you choose? Or, if you're married, who did you choose? 

(bottom image by Leah Kua via Green Wedding Shoes)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

3 Tips for Busy Home Cooks + A Killer Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe

easy cajun chicken pasta
{cajun chicken pasta}

potato, kale and sausage soup
{potato, kale + sausage soup}

Do you cook? We used to cook a lot until both of our jobs got really busy, but I've recently challenged myself to get in the kitchen more. It's been fun finding ways to make it work. Here are a few tips for other busy home cooks who are tired of eating cereal every night ;)

1. Cook a big meal on Sunday and have leftovers until Tuesday. One thing I've discovered is that cooking on Sunday is really relaxing. It's just me in our little kitchen, listening to the radio and chopping and dicing, sautéing and boiling. Cooking on a lazy afternoon feels so different than cooking after work when I'm tired and just want to plop down and relax. I made a huge pot of this amazing cajun chicken pasta (seriously, so good!), and we had leftovers until mid-week. Eating delicious leftovers and not having to worry about cooking every night is glorious.

2. Spend an hour or two on Saturday meal-planning. I'll spend some time online looking for good recipes and making a list of what I need to pick up at the store later that day or on Sunday morning. I'll aim to make 2-3 different things during the week, which is way easier to stick to when I already have all the ingredients in the fridge. My criteria for a "good" recipe is simple: It has to be easy, not entirely bad for me (sorry, you tasty deep fried foods, you), and delicious! A few of my favorite recipe sites that fit this bill are The Pioneer Woman and Smitten Kitchen.

3. Don't forget about your favorites. By the end of the week, I want to cook really simple things that don't take a lot of time but still taste good. We love: grilled cheese on sourdough with caramelized onions and kale, scrambled eggs and quesadillas with black beans.

Nothing beats a good home-cooked meal, don't you think? Are there any other cooking tips you have? What are your favorite recipe sites? I'd love to hear.

Ooh, and here's that delicious cajun chicken pasta recipe I was telling you about.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mixing Patterns: Hearts + Leopard

t-shirt and pencil skirt combo
leopard print sweater
mixing patterns with leopard print
When I first got this sweater, Alan kind of gave me a look. I knew what he was thinking because I was secretly thinking it, too. Did I really just get a leopard-print sweater? But, I got it anyway, because I knew it would be really cute mixed with another print. This weekend, I paired it with all-over-hearts for a quirky complement.

I think a touch of leopard makes any outfit really fun. What do you think? Do you wear it?

{I'm wearing a Wildfox t-shirt, Pim + Larkin Addison pencil skirt, leopard-print cardigan from Therapy and an Urban Outfitters belt.}

Friday, January 11, 2013

Latte Love

colorful nespresso capsules
nespresso u review
vanilla latte mornings
monin vanilla syrup
I got Alan a Nespresso U Espresso Maker for Christmas, and it has revolutionized our mornings. One day Alan had five espressos! Sometimes I can't wait to go to sleep at night because I'm so looking forward to waking up and making myself a latte. The machine itself is super easy and fun to use. You just pick whatever flavor capsule you want, drop it in the machine and out comes your espresso! Then add in some steamed milk and a little vanilla syrup, and you've got yourself a latte. For some reason, drinking espresso feels fancy compared to having regular coffee—it makes me feel like we're celebrating something every morning :)

p.s. We use the Aeroccino 3 milk frother to make our steamed milk and like it a lot.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Everyday Lipstick

mac ravishing lipstick
Do you know about the Back to MAC recycling program? If you return six empty MAC makeup containers to the MAC store, you get a free lipstick, gloss or eyeshadow. I traded in my recyclables this weekend and brought along my sister, who always picks the best colors. (She's the one who introduced me to my favorite coral lipstick—which I posted about exactly a year ago today!) I was looking for a pretty, everyday lipstick and loved the one she picked for me. It's called Ravishing and is a very natural-looking coral, not too pink and feels fresh without being too bright. It's perfect for those days when you want to look just a teensy bit more made-up without trying too hard.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Beauty of Rain Boots

hunter green wellies
It's probably a good thing I live in California because I've never been a big fan of the rain. One of the biggest reasons why is I hate getting my shoes wet and having to walk around all day in squishy socks with cold feet. But then I got a pair of wellies for my birthday and am slowly starting to change my mind. Once we went to the grocery store during a crazy storm, and even after walking through ankle-deep lakes in the parking lot, my feet stayed bone dry! (Poor Alan—his pants got soaked up to his knees). So, when a friend told me she was thinking about getting a pair for an upcoming trip, all I could say was, "Yes, do it!" They're so practical and cute! 

Do you own rain boots? What other life-changing items are in your closet? 

the beauty of rain boots

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Living in France: Would You Rather Be in Paris or in the Countryside?

le petite ogre - paris
paris at dusk
For someone who is such a homebody, lately I've been thinking a lot about what it'd be like to up and move to France. (It gives me butterflies just thinking about it!) I can't decide, though, if I'd rather live in the city or an hour away somewhere in the countryside. Paris has the Eiffel Tower and people who take dressing up—even if it's just to run out to buy some bread—very seriously. The countryside has rustic charm and quiet roads (straight out of the movies, don't you think?) for long afternoon walks. I've never been to France so both sound amazing. 

Have you been? Where would you rather live? 

normandy road via design mom
french dressing by ann street studio
french countryside by miss pouty
balloons and the eiffel tower by gary pepper
espresso in paris by ann street studio
french countryside by miss pouty
charming french town by miss pouty
paris subway by jonny whitlam
lazy french afternoon

1/ le petit ogre 2/ source unknown 3/ designmom 4/ Ann Street Studio 5/ Miss Pouty 6/ Gary Pepper 7/ Ann Street Studio 8+9/ Miss Pouty 10/ Jonny Whitlam 11/ source unknown
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