Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding (Are You Watching?)

OK, I admit that I have a touch of royal wedding fever.  I mean, there will be :

1)   A prince
2)   A (future) princess
3)   Buckingham Palace (where the couple will be expected to make an appearance and do the whole romantic kissing thing *swoon*)
4)   Some crowns or maybe a tiara
5)   A fabulous mystery wedding dress
6)   A huge ceremony full of pomp and circumstance
7)   1,900 guests, including the Beckhams (can't wait to see what a pregnant Posh will wear)
8)   5 carriages (how fairy tale like is that?)
9)   Westminster Abbey (it over 700 years old and holds 2,200 people)
10)  Fly-past by the Royal Air Force and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Nothing gives me chills like a fly-past.

What is there not to love?  I plan on watching the coverage throughout the day (because they can't expect everyone in the states to be up at 1am to see it all live, can they?) and soaking up all the details.  On second thought, better set my DVR.


A girl can dream, can't she?
 In the mean time, get your own royal title here:  Royal Name Generator

And if you want to know when things are going to happen, here is the schedule for the day

Are you watching?  What are your thoughts?  What about the dress?  Isn't it all about the dress?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

As always, inspired by Sydney over at The Daybook

Awkward:
  • This article on vanity sizing.  Did you know you can be a size 8 at Banana Republic and simultaneously a size 2 at the Gap? 
  • The accompanying diagram
Source

  • The very specific movie genres Netflix suggests from films you have already watched.  Case in point: Visually-striking Post-Apocalypse Movies and Quirky Romantic Crime Comedies. Somehow, I feel like it is judging me
  • Black widow season in my garden.  Creepy.
Awesome:
  • My new sugar bowl from Anthropologie.  I just love it (and it adds a nice pop of color to my kitchen).  I was going to keep it in a cabinet, but it looks so pretty on my counter that I just can't put it away.
  • This beautiful bird that comes to my bird feeder and brightens up my day.  The red is really red (but somehow loses its luster in this picture).  I think it is a house finch.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, My Father's Daughter.  I admit that I already was a big fan (so maybe I am a little biased) but her recipes are really yummy too.  And, she uses a lot of anchovies (which is one of my favorite ingredients).  If you are not a fan of anchovies, don't let that scare you away.  She doesn't use them in a lot of recipes, too:)


  • Two family birthdays in April (for my two mother-in-laws) and beautiful birthday flowers to help celebrate the occasion (with Easter decorations included)


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NapaStyle (I'll Take One of Each, Please)

Husband and I have only been home owners for 3 years.  Before that we were apartment dwellers, and much of our "extra" income went to clothing and shoes and fun little gadgets.  Then we got a mortgage, and suddenly, everything became all about the house.  Funny how quickly our priorities change. 

We are still a long way away from having our house exactly the way we want it.  We are often changing paint colors and light fixtures, and gradually getting rid of our "apartment" furniture, while slowly replacing it with real "adult" furniture and decor. 

Because this process is slow, I have lot of time to window shop.  I fill my imaginary cart with all the things I would buy if I had an unlimited budget (and husband would just tell me to buy whatever my little heart desired).  Oh yeah, and I had a much larger house that I could fill up with lots of stuff.  One of my favorite places to do this is NapaStyle, and these are some of the things I want to put in my cart.



1.   Solare Sideboard  $1499
4.   Artisan Wingback Beds  $2459- $4479
6.   Farm Fresh Clocks  $39.99   
7.   Vintage Well Bucket  $229
9.   Antique Key Plate Hooks  $29- $79

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Family + Candy = Easter

How was your Easter?  I spent mine with husband's family stuffing my belly and playing games.  Of course, there was an Easter egg hunt (and all of us "big kids" were included) with lots of chocolate.  It is always fun to get everybody together and catch up on our busy lives.  Here are a few pictures of the day.

It was a beautiful, clear day up in the hills.  I just love the view from up here.  The mountains in the background look like they were painted in.


Of course, there were a lot of Easter decorations.  We all left with little baskets full of plastic eggs filled with candy.  Husband and I will be eating it for days weeks. 


These gatherings always mean a lot of games.  Apples to Apples is a current family favorite (and easy for a group of 10 people to play).  The rationale that people come up with for playing the cards that they do is usually good for some laughs.


I was in charge of dessert and made a strawberry shortcake.  The recipe and more pictures to come next week.  It was a big hit (and super easy to make). 


The blue and green egg on the right is an actual hand painted egg, done by a local artist.  It was a thoughtful gift that one of my mother-in-laws gave out to all the women in the family.  I will now have a lovely little reminder of this Easter for the rest of my life. 


I hope that you each had a lovely day as well.  Next stop, Mother's Day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

One-Pan Dark Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie

I love chocolate chip cookies.  I love warm, melty, gooey desserts.  I love things that are served à la mode. If you are also a fan of these things, then this is the dessert for you. I am not sure how I stumbled upon the Sophistimom blog, and found this amazing recipe, but it is quick and easy to make, and to quote husband, "one of my favorite desserts."   Yes, it does use one whole stick of butter, but everything is made in one skillet.  No extra dishes to wash is always a bonus in my house.

Ingredients:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chunks

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in an 8 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.


2. Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it well into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Personally, I feel that ice cream is necessary when eating something so decadent.  Enjoy!



Saturday, April 23, 2011

An Amazing Deal (From An Amazing Artist)

Etsy is one of my favorite websites.  Whoever thought of creating a place where artists and crafters could come together in one marketplace was purely a genius. One of my favorite things to browse is hand blown glass.  Ever since I was a child, I have marveled at these brilliant artists who seem to make beautiful objects out of nothing.  Being able to create pieces that really speak to your audience is an incredible talent, and I just adore how a great glass blower can blend color and light into one magical piece.

All images property of Avolie Glass

 My good friends at Avolie Glass are offering a very special deal for one week only, 30% off of off all of their items, with code MOTHERSDAY30. I have put together a collage of some of my favorite pieces. One of them will be mine before the night is over.  I just can't help myself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

You Stay Classy, Planet Earth (Happy Earth Day)!

Today is Earth Day, a day intended to raise awareness about and inspire the protection of the natural environment of our planet.  It is a day to be green and take stock of the things you are doing to preserve Earth for future generations.  I try to do my part.  I recycle.  I bring my own reusable bags with me to the grocery store.  I try to turn off lights when I am not in the room.  OK, maybe I don't do this last one as well as I do the others, but I promise I try.  One of the biggest (and also smallest) things we do is grow our own organic garden for most of the year.  All of the pictures below were taken in my backyard.

Columbine, a favorite perennial of mine (as you can see, I planted it 3 colors)

I do the flowers.  Husband does the fruits and vegetables.  We do we assist each other, but basically I am in charge of aesthetics and he is in charge of feeding us.

A few of my rose bushes.  They are mostly covered in rose buds this early in the season.

In April, everything smells amazing.  The roses, jasmine, and citrus are all just starting to bloom.

variegated pink lemon, plums, lemon, peaches

There are bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies everywhere (but not in this picture).

Jasmine, partially blooming

The berries are just starting to form.  The bushes are full of flowers.

blackberry flower, tiny blueberries

All summer long, we are able to go into our backyard and pick fresh salsa, salad, spaghetti sauce, pies, lemonade, fajitas, home fries, and I could go on and on.

Pictured from top left: garlic, broccoli, celery, potatoes, asparagus, rosemary, kiwi, corn, celery

I didn't grow up in a gardening family.  I didn't even know how to keep a houseplant alive until I bought my first house.  I learned quickly, and now I can't imagine not being able to go into my backyard and pick my own organic produce.  This has been a fun hobby that husband and I can do together, as well as a small way we can be a little greener for the planet.  What are you doing for our planet this Earth Day?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Awkward and Awesome Thursday

As always, inspired by Sydney over at The Daybook

Awkward:
  • Two women fighting over the same necklace at my garage sale.  And then neither one buys it.  What was the point?
  • Sometimes I think I must not look so hot when my hair is tied back in a bun.  It has happened more than once (and as recently as this last weekend) that I have handed someone my driver's licence and they felt the need to tell me that they like the way I look there (with my hair down) better.  Glad you felt comfortable enough with me to let me know, strange cashier at the grocery store. 
  • I know I have said this before, but Phillip on Survivor (pink underwear and all)
  • OK, I can actually only think of 3 things this week.  I promise to to do a better job of being awkward next week
Awesome:
  • Tiny dog, giant Bully stick

  • I found a place that sells Wise BBQ potato chips!  OK, if you live on the east coast this may seem odd, but they are virtually impossible to find in the Bay Area.  And they taste like my childhood.  I remember sharing bags with my mom when I was growing up.  Wow, do they ever taste just the same (although the bag looks completely different).
  • The beautiful pink flowers that are blooming as ground cover in an otherwise hard to plant area.  The open in the sunlight and close up at night.


The Cooper's Hawk that has been living in the giant oak tree in my back yard (I have already named him Sctanley, with a C).  He hung out with us for a good part of the yard sale, squawking
fiercely, as ginormous birds do. 


  • This collar, which Harriet totally needs. Yeah, she is kind hardcore:)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our First Neighborhood Garage Sale

We have lived in our first house for 3 years now, and every spring there is a neighborhood garage sale. Everyone that lives in the neighborhood is invited, and for some reason, husband and I have never participated before.  We'd donated our unwanted items.  We'd given them away to friends.  But we'd never considered trying to sell our things for money.  After this yard sale, I will never understand why.

The night before the sale, we tried to get things organized.  We had A LOT to organize.


As a complete garage sale novice, I had no idea how to price things.  Luckily, I had some friends come over and help.  And, I found these pricing labels, which were just perfect for the occasion.


Luckily, it was a beautiful morning (totally absent of rain or cold wind).  The flowers in our yard were perky and welcoming, and the neighborhood organizers even put balloons on our house to grab people's attention.  The view of our street from our garage was just beautiful.  I love the spring.


The sale started at 8 a.m. sharp, but when husband opened the garage at 7:30, people were already waiting.  All of the best stuff went quickly (anything electronic).  The sale officially ended at 3 p.m., but when things started to slow down at 1, we decided to pack it up.  Of course, that meant another late rush of people (and husband and I had to quickly unpack everything we had already put into boxes).


The most flattering thing that happened was that people continually asked if my azeleas were for sale.  It took me a long time to get them to actually bloom (by making sure they get just the right amount of sunlight and water), so it was nice to see that other people liked them.  Plus, I really love these pots.


In the end, we made just enough money to replace the things that we had outgrown with things that we really love.  It is fun to shop for things that help make our first house a home.  This annual garage sale will definitely become our tradition.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day, Petunia!

A little over a year ago, my beloved pug Turner died.  He had been my best buddy since he was 6 weeks old (all the way back in 2000), and his passing was hard on husband and me.  His trachea had collapsed (which was the worst-case scenario), and there wasn't much we could do for him.  Putting him down was a very hard decision, but in the end, husband and I decided we needed to do what was best for him, and not best for us. 


The following week was absolutely miserable.  Husband and I took some time off of work to mourn, and Meatball was beside himself.  He also missed his buddy, and was moping around the house just like the rest of us.  So I decided we needed another pug to fill our void.  I began searching the internet for pups in need of rescue, and I came across one that I knew had to be mine. Petunia was found wondering the streets near Lake Tahoe.  We drove 2 hours to meet her at a dog rescue, and the rest is history.

We brought Petunia home on April 19, 2010.  This was the first picture I took of her when we got back to the house.  Always with the tongue hanging out, and always a little clown. 


Shortly afterward, she became best friends with Meatball.  Partners in crime, really.  To say they are inseparable is an understatement.


Even when she is sleeping, she is still cracking me up.  What a face!


Her personality is really larger than life. 


To know her, is to love her.  Even when she is a bad dog, she is still a wonderful dog.

Happy Gotcha Day, to my sweet pug.  Today, she officially turns two (since she was a rescue, we don't know her "real" birthday, just her "gotcha" day).  She has given our family endless hours of entertainment, love, and snuggles (not to mention the daily walks she demands, which helps me get plenty of exercise), and for that, we adore her. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beef Vegetable Quinoa Soup

I love quinoa.  The fact that it is considered a super-food is really just a bonus.  I have been looking for new ways to use this ancient grain, and then I discovered this Quinoa cookbook.  I quickly learned that you can put quinoa in everything, from breakfast to dessert.  So I decided to get started. 

I try to bring my lunch to work with me as often as possible.  I find that it is a good way to both watch how much I spend (a $17 dollar sushi lunch for myself the other week helped remind me of this one) as well as to help keep me on a healthier track.  Have I mentioned how close In and Out Burger is to my office?  Anyway, this is perfect for work lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil




  • 1 cup diced beef stew meat (the smaller you dice it, the more tender it will turn out)




  • 1/2 cup diced onion




  • 1/2 cup diced carrots




  • 1/2 cup diced celery




  • 1/4 cup quinoa (I used white)




  • 4 cups beef broth




  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary




  • 1 sprig fresh thyme




  • 1 bay leaf




  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley




  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper




  • 1/4 cup green peas (I used frozen, but you can also use fresh.  I also used more than the recipe called for)




  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste







  • Directions:
    1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan (I used a Dutch oven) on medium-high heat. Place the beef in the pan and brown on all sides for about 5 minutes. Add onion, carrots and celery. Cook until onion is opaque, about 10 minutes. Add the quinoa and beef broth.
    2. Make a bouquet garni (bundle of herbs) by placing rosemary (I used fresh my garden), thyme, bay leaf and parsley in a 4-inch-square piece of cheesecloth. Bring up sides and tie with cotton string, or simply tie the herbs together using cotton string (I skipped the cheesecloth). Immerse bundle in soup.
    3. Simmer the soup for about 17 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Add red bell pepper and peas in the last 8 minutes of cooking. Remove herb bundle. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

    This made lunch for 2 days for husband and me.  It reheats very well in the microwave.  Enjoy!

    P.S.  Sorry about the oil slick on the soup (pictured above).  Unfortunately, it is unavoidable (but I promise, you won't even notice it).

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Snuggles

    Some mornings are made for doing a little sleeping in and snuggling with the ones you love.  This is one of those mornings.


    Thursday, April 14, 2011

    Awkward and Awesome Thursday

    As always, inspired by Sydney over at The Daybook

    Awkward:
    • Can somebody please explain to me why the toilet paper roll always seems to be just about empty?
    • And why the trash can seems to always be full? 
    • Lauren Conrad's collection for Kohl's.  It always looks so nice online (and I am a huge LC fan), but when I go into the store and try stuff on, it is always kind of a hot mess (at least for me).  But I see other bloggers wearing her stuff and it looks nice.  Maybe it's me.
    • Husband and I had some terrible Thai food the other night.  The kind that practically turns you into a vegetarian instantly.  I can't even talk about it.  And the restaurant got great reviews on Yelp.
    • And the continuing saga of husband and I getting ready to participate in our first garage sale.  We still have no idea what we are doing, and will be relieved when it is over this Saturday.  Deep breaths, Erin, deep breaths. 
    Awesome:
    • Damn You Autocorrect.  This may be my new, new favorite website.  I love to laugh, and it gets me every time.
    • The Patrick Miracle- I first read about this in the news, and then I started following his progress on Facebook.  As an animal lover it makes me both angry and so inspired by this little dog's will to live
    • The beautiful goldfinches that come to my bird feeder.  See, I promised you a better picture
    • All of the the cleaning that prepping for the garage sale has caused me to do.  I love spring cleaning (no, really, I look forward to it).  And hopefully, getting rid of some stuff that I don't use (and making a little bit of money in the process).
    • Criminal Minds- I just started watching this show, and now I am obsessed.  I get sucked in every time.  If you can get through the first 5 minutes and not have to watch the whole thing, you are a better man  woman person than I:)

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    One of My Style Icons: Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

    There is something to be said about a woman who has been gone for over twelve years, but whose style continues to look completely current.  Some people seem to possess an "it" factor.  For me, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy is one of those people.  Her look is chic and classic.  There are clean lines and neutral colors.  It is absolutely timeless.

    Her wedding dress was considered fashion forward in 1996.  Yet, after this picture was released, silk sheath dresses became a big trend (and they still look elegant and modern today).  Carolyn definitely knew what looked good on her (and at 5'9", it was all about long lines). 

    Source

    One of my favorite outfits is pictured in the middle, below.  I would go out of the house wearing this today, and feel stylish (ok, maybe I would have more of a rounded toe boot on, but that is all I would change).  Her style as very minimalist, with few accessories, and very muted and basic colors. 

    Source

    There was definitely a lot of black in her everyday wardrobe, but somehow, she was able to keep it fresh.  She always looked completely different in every outfit she wore. 
    
    Source
    
    Her long blonde tresses got blonder throughout her time in the spotlight, and always looked incredibly healthy and well groomed.  This is a perfect example of what I would call timeless casual.

    Source

    Another one of my favorite outfits.  This was not an easy look to pull off, but somehow, she made it look effortless. She was wearing the dress, and the dress was not wearing her. Her height definitely worked in her favor (at 5'3", I can only dream about trying to recreate this look for myself).
    
    Source

    She makes me want to perfect the art of wrapping my hair in a sleek chignon...
    
    Source
    
    ...and to paint my lips bright red.
    

    
    She even makes me want to look a little more old Hollywood.
    
    Source
    
    

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Strawberry Cream Cake

    I love the way fresh berries start to hit the grocery store just as summer is about to begin.  I also grow them in my garden, and I love to eat them straight from the patch.  Making jam and desserts with the sweet berries just seems like the natural thing to do.  I found this recipe on the Williams Sonoma website (although their picture looks dramatically better than my real-life version) and knew I had to take a stab at it last Mother's Day.  All I can say is that it was fantastic.  Definitely something to try when fresh strawberries hit a market near you.


    P.S. This recipe was a huge hit.  I know this because there weren't any leftovers to bring home (not even one small slice).  I suppose that is a good thing:)

    I'm Erin

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    Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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