Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Toys: Part 2

Remember way back in April when my mom's friends hosted a shower for me and I showed you some of the wonderful gifts they gave me?  Well, I held back on showing you my favorite gift, because it deserves a post of its own.  It's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received, actually.  It even rivals the three-story fully furnished wood dollhouse my father built for me when I was five, custom made to fit my Barbies.  Yes, this gift is that wonderful.


I have this thing for vintage days of the week embroidered dish towels.

My best friend Abby told her mom about this, who, it just so happens, is an expert at embroidery.

So as my wedding gift she made me these towels, which went along with my nautical themed wedding.

The pattern is from the 30s or 40s.

She kept going and made extras... nautical-themed, of course.

This one she designed off of the sailboat on our wedding invitation:

It features my (new) last initial and our wedding date, Aug 13.
And now, the piece de resistance!

Here's a closer look:

The nautical flags spell Andrew <3 Monica.  Awww.

Unbelievable, right??  No one in the history of weddings has ever received a more thoughtful, personal, and beautiful gift than this.  I'm a lucky girl.  Thanks, Diane!  I will cherish them all my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Are You Lookin' at ME???

Recently I've almost been mowed over in a crosswalk TWICE, both times in broad daylight.  I'm super careful, but commuting as a pedestrian during rush hour traffic has its own set of hazards; mainly that people are looking for a break in traffic rather than a person in their immediate path.  I'm as diligent as a person can be about staying out of the way of cars, but crossing streets can't be avoided and at 7:30am in Seattle, they're never empty.

Check out my new line of defense!

It's super light so I can wear it in the summer, or over layers in the winter.  The color in this image is only half as obnoxious as it is in real life.  I love it.  I'm going to wear it when I run outside, no matter what time of day or night.  Traffic safety is no joke, guys!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Honeymoon Greatest Hits!

We're back!  We had a great trip through Rome and the Eastern Mediterranean.  Here are a few, but not all, of our adventures:

Borghese Gardens, Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Messina, Sicily

Messina, Sicily

Temple of Athena, Acropolis in Athens

Library at Ephesus, Turkey

Oculus of the Pantheon, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Inside the Colosseum, Rome

On the steps of the Capital Building, Rome

The Forum, Rome

Monday, August 15, 2011

Well, hey there!

So big news!  I got married!
Well, first I turned 30, then I got promoted at work, and then I got married!  Life is amazing.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Footwear Flop

You know what "hot" trend I'm totally over even before it hits the mainstream?  This flat platform bs.  It's chunky and unflattering to everyone.  Just stop already.  That is all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Living Room to Build a Dream On

Lately I've had the urge to nest, so just for fun I've been doing a design concept board for a possible version of my future living room.  I'm finally figuring out how to communicate to Mr Husband Elect what my vision of a space might be - get the whole thing visually pulled together before pointing out individual elements.  It's the most frustrating thing in the world to try and get him to agree to items for our home one by one because he can't envision them in a complete package.  See my solution above.  What do you think?  In the end, I couldn't decide on a table lamp, so I just chose my top five and threw them all in there.  What's your favorite?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Wine Tasting

We're hammering out all the details for various wedding-related events these days, and last night we did one of the more fun ones: wine tasting!  The rehearsal dinner is on a boat, and they allow the client to supply their own beverages, so we spent the evening narrowing down white and red wine selections (beer is a whole other beast we weren't ready to tack just yet).

The idea was to keep it inexpensive, so none of the bottles exceeded $9.  You'd be surprised at how many good options you can get in this range.

It started out innocently enough...

Nine chardonnays later....

I found one that tasted like oysters - not good... unless you're eating oysters.  which we were not.

Several judges with varying palates offered their two cents, and there were a lot of serious contenders for the number one spot.

In the end, the clear winner was Fitzer 2010 chardonnay - a clean, crisp, and aromatic white wine.

The Cabernet was a no-contest situation; nothing stood up to Red Diamond.  Also a no-contest situation: Andrew drove us home that night.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

List of Things Women Should NEVER Apologize For

As I'm fast approaching thirty, I've been doing some reflecting on the person I've grown into, and the things I want to take with me into the next thirty years. One thing I wish I would have taken to heart as a younger woman is, unless you have really hurt someone, you don't have to apologize for anything you do.  Not everyone is going to be happy with the decisions you make, and not everyone is going to agree with you.  So who cares?  I'm still working on the not caring part, but I do find that as I get older, I require the approval of others less and less - and I like that.  In the spirit of wisdom gained and wisdom shared, here is my list of things a girl should never apologize for:

1. Winning - This includes sports, promotions, and bets, to name a few.  Ladies, if you earned it, you shouldn't be apologetic for your victory.  Take it gracefully and own it.  Do you think a new CEO's first objective is to apologize to everyone else who didn't get the job?

2. Turning Someone Down for a Date - Just because he/she asked, doesn't mean you are expected to say yes.  When you turn a person down, he/she doesn't want your sympathy.  Just say no (kindly) and move on.  You don't owe an explanation on why that person isn't worthy of your company and you certainly don't have to apologize.

3. Having a Difference of Opinion - Not agreeing with a friend or colleague is nothing to be sorry about.  Offer your view (gently, if needed) and let it stand.  Stammering and back-tracking only chips away at how someone perceives the validity of your statement.  If you believe in what you said, stand your ground.

4. Things You Like - Short of having a preference for something truly terrible like child pornography,  there's no reason to say you're sorry about liking something off-beat, strange, or even "too pedestrian."  Example: I am a fan of Mariah Carey and I don't care what people think of me for loving the shit out of her voice.  That woman has a powerhouse set of pipes and you all know it, whether you like her or not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Last week I made mozzarella, and have been meaning to retype my printout to tell you just what I did, but that is extremely tedious, so I went out and found you some links to great guides.

THIS RECIPE is pretty spot on to what I did.  I don't have a microwave, so I did everything by hand, and melted the curds to knead into cheese by lowering them in heated whey.  I feel like the microwave might be more effective.

THESE TIPS are extremely useful and are worth reading before you start.

If you go for it (and you try the microwave method) let me know how it goes!

What I'm Wearing - Welcome Sun!

Remember when I bought new shoes?  I finally get to wear them!  The forecast is sunny and dry today, so I'm celebrating!
My office dress code is casual, and my only restriction is no jeans, so here I come with shorts!  ...and a button-up to keep it classy.  The shorts I'm wearing are actually a butter yellow twill, but there is nary a picture on the internet that is appropriate for this post, so I had to settle for tan, which is in the spirit but not quite as flamingly preppy as I am.

Let's hope this warm spell lasts; Lord knows I need it!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Everything From Scratch

Guess what I did last night!


Give up?

I made fresh mozzarella!! 

It took only two hours.  I have recently been on a mission to make as many food staples as possible from scratch.  I like to control the ingredients and cut down on preservatives in my food (not only because I am an admitted control freak, but also because I want to live healthier), so the effort and time investment is worth it to me.  Monday night two of my very good friends took me to a cheese making workshop where we learned the basics of ricotta, mascarpone, chevre, and mozzarella.  I think this will prove to be one of the more valuable life skills I have acquired, ranking up there with perfecting chicken. I wanted to put my new knowledge to the test right away, so I decided to start with one of the cheeses I didn't have a chance to get my hands on the night before.

It just so happens one of Andrew's favorite things to eat is caprese salad, so mozzarella was really a no-brainer decision. When the mozzarella was ready, I sliced it, piled it with halved cherry tomatoes (so they don't squirt or jump away from your fork), and some basil leaves, which I like to chiffonade so they're easier to eat and don't overpower the other flavors in one bite the way a whole leaf would.  I drizzled a little olio ai funghi over the whole thing, gave it a sprinkle of sea salt, and voila! Dinner.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What I'm Wearing - Anchors Aweigh!

It's been a while since I've done one of these.  In truth, my wardrobe hasn't been updated in a looooong time and so most of my outfits you've already seen.  I did, however, recently get a new shirt that I love.  Here's how I wore it today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lemon and Shallot Braised Lamb Shanks

This lamb died for a good cause.  I couldn't have been more pleased with the way the dinner turned out.

I took four lamb shanks, put a coarse salt crust on them, and let them sit for a bit at room temperature to lose the chill from the fridge.

In a dutch oven on the stovetop, I seared them two at a time in bacon grease and then placed the seared meat in a separate dish to rest.

I melted 4 tablespoons of butter in the dutch oven and then threw two thinly sliced shallots and a couple of sliced garlic cloves into the dutch oven and browned them.

I added a cup and a half of chicken stock to the shallots and laid a lemon that I'd sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices overtop and then set the shanks and any juices in the pan back into the dutch oven.

I sliced a second lemon the same way and laid it overtop of the shanks, ground some pepper overtop, and put the lid on.  It cooked for about an hour on the stovetop, and then I moved it into the oven and baked it at 375 for thirty minutes, then reduced the heat to 300 and let it braise for another hour.

I served it with this potato dish and a glass of red wine.

It was a perfect mix of simple flavors.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Daydreaming About Vacations

Every once in a while I like to pop over to the Kate Spade website and browse around.  I can't actually afford anything, but a little Friday afternoon swoon never hurt a girl.

Doesn't this screen shot make you want to set sail on a fabulous sunny vacation?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Savory Dessert: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

We have an out of town guest coming to town tomorrow and I'm planning an intimate dinner for four on Friday.  Yesterday I got a wild hare up my ass and decided in addition to lamb shanks and a certain potato dish I found irresistible,  I should also include a dessert.

Ok Ill be honest: I was also looking for an excuse to bust out the new ice cream maker I got at a recent bridal shower.

There's no question what the dessert should be: salted caramel ice cream.  My special fella loves caramel.  I mean he LOVES it.  Our guest of honor (like myself) is a salt-fiend.  It's the perfect compromise.

A quick google search brought me to David Lebovitz, who is unarguably an authority on ice cream and all things delicious.  He's also a fantastic writer, and I respect the hell out of him for that.  I decided his recipe is my best bet.

I'm currently halfway through the process, and though the recipe isn't difficult, it is a process.  The custard took a lot of babying and is currently chilling, as is my ice cream maker.  Both need a minimum eight-hour chill before the next step, so it's a good thing I read the recipe last night.  I also prefer firmer ice cream, so giving it more time in the freezer is important to me.

In the end, I hope to have smooth rich caramel ice cream with salty toffee crackles sprinkled throughout.  I'll keep you posted.

Update:  We had this on Friday night and it was everything I'd hoped it would be... and more!  I'm going to have to keep myself from making this ALL THE TIME because it's just so wonderful.  I'd balloon within a month!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I'm Wearing - Making the Most of It

Those of you who read my other blog know I've been running to work a few days a week, gearing up for May when I release the parking spot I have been leasing in my office's garage.

The plan is to run each way, which gives me a great workout when I'd normally just be sitting on my ass in my car dealing with road rage.  It won't be a piece of cake, but I think it's the best (and cheapest!) solution out there.  I'm trying to lose that last 15 lbs, and I get to do one of my favorite things: multitask!

Running to work takes some planning ahead.  I have to champion a 400-foot hillclimb between point A and point B, so I really don't like to carry stuff on my back -- discovered this one the hard way.  This means I throw a bunch of similar looking things into a bag that will all work with one pair of shoes, the same sweater, and maybe a belt, and drop the bag off at the office over the weekend and just hope to heck it all matches.

This week is a combo of driving and running, so I put together three outfits (that I don't have to iron) to make the most of what I've got.  When I say I put these outfits together, what I really mean is I was frantically running around the apartment Monday morning grabbing anything that was nearby.  Luckily, I keep my clothes pretty basic, because as I have said before, I look stupid in trendy clothes.  Really wishing for some black tights right now, though.  Note to self...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weekend Recap: New Toys (Part 1)

On Saturday four wonderful women threw me a bridal shower.  The theme was "Setting the Table."  The guests included family and friends of my mother's; I have a great family and I love my mom's girlfriends, so it was a really fun time.  In addition to some beautiful linens, dishes, and other hostessing items, I also got a stack of cards full of personal words of wisdom from each of the ladies.  It was such a great afternoon.

Well, I couldn't wait to play with my new toys, so I immediately put together an intimate afternoon luncheon for the next day.

(my aunt Terri carried that table cloth with her back from her trip to India earlier this year)

I served a simple lunch of lemon roasted chicken with rosemary potatoes, a green herby salad with pears and a champagne dijon vinaigrette, and a raw vegan spumone cake for dessert

I'm pretty proud of that chicken.  It was golden and crispy on the outside, and oh so moist on the inside.

Chicken is kind of my specialty.

And we had a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free guest so the whole meal addressed those concerns, including the spumone cake.

I adapted the recipe from the My New Roots raw cashew cake, and is a pretty successful vegan version of spumone ice cream.  The three layers are chocolate pecan, pistachio vanilla, and almond cherry.  The only change I think I'd make is adding more cherries to the top layer.  Even so, I really enjoyed it as is.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Online Shopping Made Dangerously User-Friendly

Hi there.  Have y'all heard of a little thing called Boutiques.com?  Unfortunately, it's fabulous.  It's an automated personal shopper that surveys you on what you like, and then presents you with options... and then more options... and then more.

I'm obsessed.

Here's a little glimpse of what I just set up for myself:

My store front:

My saved items:

Then they take it a step further:

I'm trying not to waste too much time on this, but it's so much fun!