Friday, July 30, 2010

The Most Needed Weekend Ever

If there was ever a weekend that was needed, it is this one.

If there was ever a Monday that needed a Friday, it was this past week.

If there was ever a week so long you literally could not remember Monday to save your life, it was the week I just had.

If there was ever a time where laying on the couch felt like the most incredible experience, it is now.

If there was ever a night where ordering take-out was the only option, it is this night.

Stick a fork in me folks, 'cause I'm done.

Happy Weekend to you all!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Indonesian Satay with Peanut Sauce - YUM!


Dan and I have been loving our BBQ this summer and keep trying to find new recipes that involve anything grilled. I recently tried this recipe for Indonesian Satay with Peanut Sauce and it did not disappoint. This is a really quick and simple meal packed full of flavor with a peanut sauce that will rock your world. I am seriously serious about this. Try it tonight.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce (I only had pizza sauce and it worked great)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or any vegetable oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • skewers

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, tomato sauce, peanut oil, garlic, black pepper, and cumin. Place chicken into the mixture, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, but not overnight. This will make the meat too dark.
  2. Preheat the grill for high heat.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Mix in water, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook and stir until well blended. Remove from heat, mix in lemon juice, and set aside.
  4. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill skewers about 5 minutes per side, until chicken juices run clear. Serve with the peanut sauce.

** Notes - I only had time to marinate the chicken for about 20 minutes and even what that small amount of time, there was a lot of flavor. Also, if using wood skewers, I highly recommend soaking them in water for about 20 minutes prior to using. I did not do this and they burned off almost instantly once on the grill - oops! Happy Cooking!**

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Food Edition


I am a foodie, through and through. I love trying new foods and flavors. I will try most things once (except for weird animal body parts - NO thank you) and a night out in an amazing restaurant with good friends and good wine is my idea of a perfect evening. However, as much as I appreciate culinary delicacies, I also have my guilty pleasures.

You know those items that you have been enjoying since you were about 8 and they still taste just as good today? No matter how many recipes you try or homemade versions of it are out there, it is the store-bought, processed version that tickles your fancy? Those are the food guilty pleasures, and they will never, ever get old.



This is one of my all time favorites: Pace Picante Salsa - Medium. I could literally eat it out of the jar with a spoon. It is runny, lacking in vegetables and probably full of sodium, but I love the stuff.


Ramen Noodle Soup - Oriental Flavor. I. Will. Never. Get. Sick. Of. It. When it's cold and I'm tired, this is the perfect dinner. The key is to let it sit for about 10 min before you eat it. The noodles soak up more of the broth and get really big. Yuuuummm.


How could you not love Lunchables? Meat, cheese, crackers, little tiny mustard and a mint!! An entire meal in a lovely little compartmentalized container.


Most west coasters do not know about Tastykakes, but thanks to my Mom who originally hails from Pennsylvania, I have been blessed to have these in my life. Whenever we go back East to visit family, we come back with as many of these as we can stuff in our suitcases. If you ever get a chance to try these, do it.

Unfortunately for my waistline, my list could go on and on. Why are these things so great? I don't totally get it, but I know that everyone has their own guilty food pleasures.

What are some of yours?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today

Today I Am:

1) Feeling happy to be married.

2) Bloated and hormonal (sorry, guys...)

3) Drinking a lot of water, re: #2

4) Motivated about saving, saving, saving.

5) Wanting to go shopping, which contradicts #4, but I have gotten really used to resisting the urge to shop in the last year, so I fear not.

6) Enjoying the hot weather.

7) Wishing I could be home today working on my frame project.

8) Thinking about what recipes to make this week. I get a lot of joy from planning out recipes.

9) Patting myself on the back for organizing a closet this weekend. It needed it in the worst way.

10) Needing to hit the gym. For REALS, y'all!

How are you all feeling today? I hope it is a glass-full kinda Monday for you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Zip-Lining & Jamie Cullum


This weekend was quick. Oh my, was it quick. However, it was also lovely, and lovely never disappoints.




We went zip-lining with our friends Karla and Brian in the gorge that lines the Oregon/Washington border. It was both scary and totally awesome at the same time. I don't even want to know how high up I was at certain points, but it was a blast. I highly recommend zip-lining if you ever get the chance.



We also saw Jamie Cullum live with the same friends as above. It was an outdoor concert which was great since it was about 95 degrees outside. Jamie Cullum is amazing. If you know who he is, you know this is fact. If you don't know who he is, do yourself a favor and have a listen. It is a very good thing.

P.S. - How pretty is this venue!!?! I love living in Portland.



We were allowed to bring a picnic to the concert and this was basically my dinner.

Jamie Cullum + hot weather + wine + brie cheese + flax seed crackers + Dan + friends = perfection, if you ask me.

I hope you all had a weekend and that the week to come is off to a good start!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Really Amazing Bread Pudding


Every Wednesday I attend a craft night with ladies from work. Everyone brings a project they are working on and a dish to eat and we sit around, eat, craft and chat. It has become something that I truly look forward to. I have to tell you, however, that seeing as I work for a film production company, these ladies take crafting to another level. Creating things is what they do for a living and half of the fun is just watching these masters at work.

The night has also turned into a culinary delight and it has pushed me to try recipes that I would usually not make for just Dan and me. This past week I chose to bring a dessert and I was finally able to make this bread pudding that caught my eye about a year ago. It is from the queen of high-calorie satisfaction: Paula Deen. You all should really make this sometime. Really. It is like a mix between traditional bread pudding, french toast and pecan pie. Oh yeah, and brandy is one of the ingredients. Delightful.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For The Sauce

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:

Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vintage Wire Baskets


I love this wire basket. I picked it up at a little boutique in the San Juan Islands back in April while on my honeymoon. I had originally planned on using it in the bathroom to store extra towels, but our tiny apartment bathroom just doesn't have the space, so now it holds extra throw blankets in the main living area.


I love the details of the handles. In fact, I love everything about it.



Due to this purchase, I am now slightly enamored with these baskets and I want more.


Thankfully, my good friend Etsy has plenty to choose from. My current shoe situation in my closet is uhm...well, it's a situation. I basically just kick my shoes off in there at the end of the day and that is about as good as it gets. Perhaps a row of these wire baskets would aid in my quest for shoe organization.

Found at bigfishlilpond

This one has great character. Rust is a little bit like scars - it tells a story.


Found at GingersGirl

Isn't this basket nice and fresh? It would be a great storage solution for magazines or books. Oh - and how cute would yarn look in here? And what about DVD's?

The possibilities are endless.

Stylish Outdoor Seating? Yes, please.


How great are these chairs? They are really whimsical and unique, yet still made out of plastic so you can hose 'em off when needed. Fashionable yet functional. I heart.


They also stack. And, apparently, still look nice if the wind blows them over :)

Happy Wednesday, also known as The-Week-Is-Halfway-Over!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The BEST Caprese Salad EVER


I have loved caprese salad for a long time now, but this summer I have been particularly obsessed with it. There is nothing fresher and yummier on a hot day than a cool caprese. I have not found an incarnation of this delectable delight that I don't love, but I have found my favorite. If you are a caprese fan, you MUST try this. It is from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself, and it is a real treat.

Ingredients


  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, julienned

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. If the slices of mozzarella are larger than the tomatoes, cut the mozzarella slices in half. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.
You can see in the photos above that I like to make myself a personal-size caprese, but you can easily fill a platter with this as well. Also, please excuse the look of my baking pan. It is older than dirt, but seasoned perfectly. I am not sure if I will ever part with it.
Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Need More Color In My Life

I love color. All colors. They make me extremely happy. I am constantly planning how I would like to paint my walls and I find inspiration daily in all sorts of places. However, like many 20-somethings out there, I live in an apartment. While it is great and I love it, there is only so far you can go with decorating. We are not able to paint and make the place really our own. This has left us looking for other ways to bring in some color and interest into our tiny space.


I love the painted open frames. Look at what a pop it gives this fairly neutral space. I have started searching for interesting frames at thrift stores that I can strip and repaint in interesting colors. My plan is to actually hang them in our bathroom, which is desperate for some color. Dan and I stopped by a Goodwill last night and I found some really great frames with a lot of texture. I cannot wait to go pick out the paint!


Pillows are another way I am planning on adding some color to our space. I found these four at ZGALLERIE and I love how they all supply a color pop in their own way.


Then there is this bedding. I WANT IT SO BADLY!!!!! Throw on some pink pillows and I am in color heaven. My entire life, I have been attracted to colorful bedding but I ALWAYS go for a neutral duvet cover with cream pillow cases, or what have you. Well - enough is enough. I am going for some colorful bedding. Soon. And it might just have to be this one (Also from ZGALLERIE).


Last, but certainly not least, is this wall art that Dan and I found on Etsy. Talk about great color! We have been talking about these for a month or so since we first found them and I have a feeling they may be headed our way soon.

So - to all of you out there - what have you done in the past to add some color when painting was absolutely not an option? I would love to hear your ideas!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Loaf Love




The other day when I got to work, I found this at my desk. It was very exciting.



Rosemary Cheddar Bread. Uhm...YUM. The simple wrapping was calling me in. I am a total sucker for simple wrapping. Give me some butcher paper and raffia ribbon and I am pretty much in heaven.

I instantly knew who to call and thank. Holly, who also has a blog and is one of the craftiest people I know, is both a co-worker and a friend who has been trying her hand at baking bread.



I had been smelling this all day at my desk and could not wait to get it home.



Almost there...



Oh, hello there, little one. I wish I could describe how wonderful this bread smelled. And tasted.



There is nothing like homemade bread. Nothing. Especially when one of the ingredients is cheese.



We enjoyed this bread all week long. It was a delightful gift and so, so thoughtful. Thanks Holly! If you would like the recipe for this lovely loaf, you can find it here.

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Finally!


After 16 months...

Thousands of dollars...

Hundreds of forms...

Much time apart...

Stress, waiting, stress and more stress...

And more waiting...

Oh yeah, and tears...

Dan FINALLY got approved for a green card. What we have been through for that little piece of plastic has been one of the most difficult things in our lives, but we did it. What this means now is that Dan can legally live and work here with free reign to go in and out of the country as he pleases. It also means that for 2 whole years (until the next follow-up interview to make sure we are still together) we do not have to fill out a single form. We do not have to gather a single document proving we live together/love each other/have a legitimate marriage. We also don't have to write any more checks. Oh, the checks. The government likes your checks, don't they?

This is all HUGE for us. It is our Everest. It is the big kahuna. It is peace of mind, and peace of mind is priceless.

The interview itself was extremely scary. We had to bring suitcases full of bank statements, tax records, medical records, photo albums, greeting cards - anything and everything you can imagine that could possibly, even if in the smallest way, prove we have a real life together.

In the week leading up to the interview we spent hours and hours going over it all and making sure we knew all of the important dates and all of the names of each others family members. It was like I was back in college, cramming for an exam. Except, this was an exam where you KNOW you know all of the answers, but are so afraid of the possibility of tripping up that you have to get that information absolutely embedded into the depths of your memory.

By the time we were there, sat in front of the immigration officer with our lawyer by our side, we were READY. The questioning began and we were getting through it all with flying colors. Everything she wanted, we had. Everything she asked, we answered. Until...

Until she asked me, "What is your home phone number?"

This is the one thing she could have asked that I didn't know. When we were setting up our cable and internet at our new place, it was cheaper to get a phone line installed as well, so we did it. Both of us carry cell phones and use those. I had no idea what our home phone number was. No idea at all. I felt my face getting red and simply said, " I am so sorry but I do not know that number."

She looked up from writing and said, "You don't know your home phone number?"

"No, I am so sorry."

She then looked at Dan and asked him. He didn't know either. She was not pleased and we got scared.

"I have it in my cell phone!" I finally said.

"Why don't you just get that out then and tell me what that number is."

I never wanted a technical device to turn on faster in my life. Afterward the lawyer said that he could see on my face how worried I was and he was trying to telepathically communicate to me not to worry - that they try to trip people up and much of it is an act, but at the time, it was frightening.

After about 30 minutes of questions, she announced that she was going to approve our case. I almost burst into tears right there in the office. It is done. Done.

The US government has deemed us "legitimate" and it feels really, really great.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My 4th of July

Well, it is back to real life today after a long and lovely weekend. There is absolutely nothing like a 3-day weekend to revitalize, renew and refresh. We took it pretty easy this weekend and there was a lot of lazing around, however on Sunday we partook in one of the great American traditions: the rodeo.


We went with 2 other couples, which included 3 English guys who have spent the majority of their lives living in London and had never been to a real rodeo. I knew it would be a cultural experience, to say the least.


In addition to our friends from across the pond, there was a gal who hails from Detroit and another from Pennsylvania but who has spent a lot of time in NYC and London. Needless to say, the rodeo is quite a change of pace for folks like us.


One of the first things to clear up: the rope they are using to wrangle that bull is a lass-OH, not lass-eww, as the English were saying. "Sorry guys," I said, "But this is one word in the English language that got it's start here in the West."


I love this picture. In fact, I love the rodeo. I have been to many a' rodeo in my life and it continues to fascinate me. I think the fact that this life, the whole cowboy/farming/ranching/country life, is so very different than mine in every sense that I just find it to be so interesting. It is always good to spend some time doing things you rarely do and being around people you are usually not around.


Whoa - watch out there, cowboy!


This looks like some sort of bull yoga. That is quite a pose!


Uh oh...can he stay on?


Looks like it!


I think even he was surprised he pulled it off!


In addition to the rodeo was the classic carnival. You know the drill - rigged games, greasy food and lots and lots of colors.





I love all of the colors. It is total eye candy.



These water-gun into the clowns mouth games have always been my favorite, especially when I used to play against my Dad and sister as a kid, trying as hard as I could to beat them.


Do you think Dan would mind if I put in some lights like this at home?

I hope you all had a great weekend and I bid you to carry-on with gusto into the rest of this beautiful summer.
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