Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kate's Canadian Wear

ate Middleton's daily wear for her Canadian tour has been stunning. It's hard not to obsess just a tiny bit over her Alexander Wang cream colored nautical inspired dress or her navy blue...everything. It's perfect and if I were rich or had more time to spend looking for designer discounts, I would just wear whatever she is wearing. I love Kate's style -- simple, elegant,timeless, stylish without being too trendy. The best part of Kate's daily wear is that everything fits her just so well! I'm sure she has an excellent tailor waiting in the wings...which is also what I would do if, again, I were rich.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cake Toppers...check!

rumroll please. Ta da!Cake toppers for our not so real wedding cake! I've been seeing a bunch of these wooden peg wedding couple cake toppers, but they're always so ridiculous in price. Ranging anywhere from $80-$120, it's just a lot to pay when so many little things keep popping into your budget and you're bleeding money that you don't have. But I love them and decided to try making them myself. If it didn't work out, no harm no foul, I'd be out like $8. I bought a set of 3 girl and boy wood couples but used only one set ($2.66). Then I bought a set of brushes for $2.99 on sale, and a handful of acrylic paints for about $4. About 6 hours later, I was done. I also had a claw of a hand. It was not pretty. I think it gets easier and faster as you get used to painting them. The groom was first and took a very long time. But the bride was MUCH quicker, thank goodness. I then sealed them with gloss varnish, which I regret because now they look way too shiny. I think I'll go over them with a matte varnish. eek. But now that's one more thing I can check off my list, yay!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


am sitting here in my office, waiting for the Fiance to pick me up so that we can head on over to Social Eatz and stuff my face with a burger. I've pretty much eaten every edible thing in my office and now I'm starting to get weak. So what do I do? I read food blogs. Because I love to make myself miserable. The good news is that I found some really inspiring posts!

One of my guilty pleasures is reading Gwyneth Paltrow's blog. I love her. I can't get enough of her. She's the epitome of super cool and wonderful, in my book. Although...I saw her recently on Who Do You Think You Are and her personality was a little...snobbish? It doesn't matter. She's still really awesome and I'm happy to report that we both have a love of Epoisse. Anyway, she had a wonderfully informative post on cheese boards, featuring two of her go-to cheese spots in London and NYC. Obviously, she chose Murray's for NY. If you're looking to have a cheese board set up, this will be helpful (and it will be SO helpful when planning my cocktail hour)!

{courtesy of GOOP}

Moving on, I have been simply drooling over Smitten Kitchen's post on dobos torte, a 7 (here, 10) layer cake of chocolatey goodness. She swears this is easy. I can see that it is likely not, at least not for me. But oh my goodness...yum.

{courtesy of Smitten Kitchen}

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wedding Venting

ver the past few weeks, I've been trying to amp up the wedding planning and buckle down. So far I've chosen bridesmaid dresses, which was actually a bit difficult because I did not want to go over $100 per dress. No one wears them again and being part of a bridal party is expensive to begin with. I found these really classy/elegant and pretty dresses from David's. I love them. I want one. I also booked a florist, which is great because I don't have to deal with ordering the flowers myself! Which was my awful and overly ambitious plan. This florist works independently and will go out to the flower district in the early morning to buy everything wholesale, which allows me to have a really low budget for so many flowers! Success! Now in the not so successful news, I am still searching for a hair and makeup artist. This. Process. Sucks. Let me tell you why. Because trials are EXPENSIVE! They are at least $100. I've had rotten luck so far and did a trial with a company that came highly recommended. I liked it, I didn't love it, and I felt like we didn't get the "look" that I wanted. But I was denied a second trial (unless I paid the entire trial fee) and THEN when I tried to book them, they already signed with someone else! That....pisses me off. Majorly. I'm trying to be cost conscious here. Every penny adds up and I intentionally only got a hair trial because I did not want to pay for both hair and makeup trial. The least that they could have done was to give me a deadline to give an answer, or to tell me before someone else took my date! I understand that they're under no obligation until you give a deposit, but YOU TOOK MY MONEY. Sigh. So now I'm back to the drawing board and so far, everyone is booked. Suggestions?

Next, I've been doing some DIY here and there and my weekend project is to make cake toppers using wooden peg people. Would you believe these go for $120+? Nuh uh. Not happenin' over here. I think more than having the "perfect" wedding, I refuse to give in to the madness of wedding prices. Yes, some things you have to. But other things that may not be as important need to be let go of. Example: I just spent $52 on a hair clip. Who am I?'s important. It gets photographed. It's on my head. And I can probably re-sell it or gift it. Ugh. Weddings are so expensive.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Dream Of...

dreamt of a food recipe last night and now I can't stop thinking about it! I won't reveal it yet (just in case it goes awry) but I want to try my hand at making it this weekend. Here's a's a ravioli dish! So random! Good thing I bought a ravioli stamp a few months back (and never used it).

I have a super secret (not so secret) recipe book of tried and trues, JUST in case one day the Fiance and I end up opening a small cafe, or JUST in case I decide to write a cookbook one day, or or...who knows.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A DIY Wedding

his was quite the DIY wedding weekend for me and the Fiance. I've been trying to re-create the pinwheels that are so "in" now, but I absolutely refuse to pay these insane prices, just because the word "wedding" is attached to it. Plus, I'm a bit obsessed with paper and picked up several sheets of gorgeous italian print paper for about $3-$5 a sheet (sorry, I don't know the specific measurements, but they're huge).

These are harder to make then they look! Good thing the Fiance was there to help. After I threw a few mistakes down on the table in frustration, he picked them up and reconfigured them and voila! We have pinwheels, folks. I sewed a button in the center for one of them, and plan to do the same to the others. Then fix a stem piece and pop them in a vase.

Next, I tried my hand at making some pom poms to hang around the venue. I think our wedding will have a very DIY look, but I'm trying to be cautious so as not to make it look like we just threw up some arts and crafts and went too cheap. But these pom poms were very easy to make and cost $0. I used tissue paper that came as the wrapping for a West Elm purchase from last week.

Instructions are on Martha Stewart's Craft Page.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Kale Chips, anybody?

ately, all I hear about is kale chips this and kale chips that. Even my sister has jumped on this bandwagon and baked her own rendition of veggie chips, using brussel sprouts. Yum. I was at the farmers' market in park slope and saw a fresh bunch of kale for sale and thought I'd give this a go.

After a thorough rinsing, I dried them off, hand tore the leaves and spread them across an oven tray.

Drizzled some olive oil and kosher salt, put them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 and voila! Definitely a tasty way to eat kale, and a great snack while "vegging" out in front of the tube.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paris in NYC

I was starting to fall into a rut by the end of last week and needed something to cheer me up. I noticed that the Fiance was in this rut as well and so I thought, why not plan a special day for us, why not bring Paris to New York? We have been spending quite a bit of money lately, with the wedding, people visiting from out of town and graduations, and I wanted to keep the spending to a minimum, yet splurge. We found the perfect combo and had an amazing night out. Sigh...there is nothing like Paris.

Our first stop was at Le Grainne Cafe on 21st and 9th Ave. It's a very cute little cafe/bistro type with a ton of hustle and bustle and very delicious food. I had a chicken salad with ratatouille and the Fiance had a lamb sausage and peppers sandwich. Both were mouth wateringly delicious. I also really wanted the broccoli soup but they ran out. Poo.

Then began the adventure! We tried to watch the new Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, at the Angelika theater but all the shows were sold out! So we raced over to the theater in Chelsea, and the show was sold out! So we got smart and fandango'd it and was able to get tickets for the theater on 3rd Ave near Bloomingdales, but there was a line that went around the block. In any event, the movie was great -- consistently entertaining and my favorite actors were featured, Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Carla Bruni (singer). Ok not my absolute favs but definitely up there.

We had so much fun, it was just what the doctor ordered. We ate well (including the snacks we snuck into the theater!) and we laughed and whispered throughout the movie and dreamt of another life when we could do this all the time. It was wonderful and I highly recommend it for when one has the case of the ruts. Or even just because.

{via Little Brown Pen}

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Boeuf Bourguignon

esterday I got an email from Sarah Kate from the Kitchn (no, not a typo) with a recipe for Boeuf Bourguignon. I love Boeuf Bourguignon and anything in its family, such as beef stew, beef stroganoff...beef in general... This recipe looks fantastic but with some maintenance involved if you truly want to make "beef" into "boeuf"! Quoted from the entry:

" The two techniques for Boeuf Bourguignon . . . One method, and arguably the more popular, involves browning the beef, then adding the vegetables and wine then adding a beurre maniƩ (mixture of soft butter and flour) to the mix . . . The other method . . . is much easier. Mapie de Toulouse-Lautrec, who wrote about food for Elle back in the 1960s, called this the "true" recipe. It's also how Julia Child makes her daube de boeuf in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You simply build the dish by layering the ingredients, much like a trifle, in a large casserole or Dutch oven, finishing with a bacon topper and some wine and brandy, and cooking stove-top for a couple hours. Aside from its easy preparation, the big difference is that this method produces a very pale brothy sauce versus the thick, winey sauce in the traditional version."

I'm going to have to store this one for later use!

{via The Kitchn}

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Handmade Weddings

just saw this post on Sally J Shim's blog and I MUST get my hands on it! I've already overspent on wedding books that promised to make the process easier and found that not all of them keep their promises. In fact, most of them haven't. Who woulda thunk it. But Handmade Weddings seems so lovely!...I want it. It's the second DIY book by the women at Hello! Lucky and I want it I want it I want it!

Closer to Free

Oh my, what a week! We are coming to a close of a very intense case and I see my freedom on the horizon. So close! I've been trying to get back on the horse with wedding planning and have a hair and makeup trial this Friday. This may be a dumb idea, but I think I'll be going with the same makeup artist a friend of mine used, and she was NOT happy on her wedding day. Well, to be fair, she wasn't happy because the agency sent over a different person from her trial to do her hair, and it just wasn't coming out right. My conversation with the artist went something like this: "Remember, I was in the bridal party of the bride who hated her hair and cried?" Hm. You'd think I'd get the hint. BUT, they've had some great reviews in the past, and I recently saw pictures of a bride whose hair and makeup I loved, and this artist happened to have worked on that job. So...I'll chalk it up to a mistake. And at the end of the day, the bride liked her hair. It was just a struggle to get there.

In other non-wedding news, I have a serious shopping bug. I really want to buy something...that's not for the wedding. Obviously, I can't buy anything expensive and will have to satisfy my craving by going to Forever 21 or H&M or ooh, Uniqlo, and going nuts. Then return everything.

And lastly, I have a strong desire to make some of these over the weekend.

{gorgeous strawberries}

{light and buttery biscuits}

~Strawberry Shortcake a la Heart of Light~
Aren't her photos scrumptious? Strawberries have been very cheap as of late, and I plan on doing some damage. A friend of mine suggested using a oatmeal cream, which is popular in Sweden and supposedly very very delicious and "healthy" (or rather, healthIER than regular cream). Hopefully I will get to this.

Monday, May 9, 2011

24 and Shoes!

osh, where does the time go? Once again, I've been in the office almost 24/7 and have had little time for myself or the Fiance. But we've been making it work. The secret is that we've picked a new show to obsess over. I get it - it's not really considered "quality" time, but you know what? I'm ok with that. Because by the time I get home from work, all I want to do is just veg out and at this point, I'll take whatever "quality time" that I can get. So the Fiance and I have been watching back to back episodes of 24, starting from Season 1. I know, I know, I'm coming in way late in the game. Oh well. Reminds me of the time we were obsessed with Alias and I watched every season during my first year of law school. Good times.

In wedding news, I've been searching for wedding shoes via the internet - oh how I love technology. Since I'm pretty short (5"1), I want to get a high heel with a platform front to give the appearance of, dear God, being lean. Here are my options. P.S. I also do NOT want to spend a fortune on shoes. I capped myself at $50 but am willing to go to $100. Here are the contenders. What do you think?

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Friday!!!

am so excited for the weekend to start, I can hardly contain myself! I've pretty much spent the bulk of the day today searching for a new restaurant to try with the Fiance. We've been reigning in the spending in anticipation of the many and large bills we will be receiving from the Wedding. We've been pretty good so far and with the warm weather peeking thru, I think we're entitled to a little bit of celebration.

On another note, I thought I'd declare my love for Trader Joe's today. I can't find a picture of this, but I love Trader Joe's flat bread. It looks like pizza bread, ready to go...and it is! The Fiance and I made dinner last night using the flat bread, some pizza sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and garlic chunks. Oh and mini portabella mushrooms, can't forget those! It's DELICIOUS. And the bread only costs about $2.99. I highly recommend and it only takes about 15 minutes to bake. My sister sprinkles just olive oil with some S&P and serves it to guests to nibble on. Yummy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Weekend Happennings

appy Easter! Although we had a very grey and rainy Saturday in New York, the city was filled with warm weather and plenty of sunshine on Easter. Thank goodness because we were due for a nice day and some promise of spring! On Saturday, I woke up bright and early, after having worked until 3 a.m., to hit the wedding shops, determined to find a dress. This whole dress shopping thing is supposed to be the most fun part of wedding planning, but for me, it's been just a pain. I really don't enjoy sorting through hundreds of dresses and trying things on one after the other...everything starts looking the same. I didn't have an "ideal" dress in mind, but had some sense of the shape and style. Too bad there are thousands upon thousands of dresses with the same style, yet almost nothing that was exactly right. Until....I found the one. I didn't know it was the one until a few minutes after trying it on, then leaving the store, then coming back to try it on one last time. But my sister just fell in love with it and so did I. I can't give much detail about the dress (the Fiance reads this!) but I found it at a little french boutique in the East Village, Atelier Merciel. The designer owns the shop and will be doing the fittings, etc., and the seamstress used to do Vera's dresses so I know I'm in good hands. The bonus is that the fabric is all imported from Paris and the francophile in me was totally suckered into that notion. It's overbudget, but it's beautiful. And the best part? My mom will be picking up the tab on this one and she didn't really give me a budget (although, I obviously couldn't go crazy, nor would I) but that totally made me think....I'm going to get the dress I love. I was debating between this one and a $350 preowned David's Bridal dress, which is also gorgeous but I hadn't seen it in person. All in all, I'm very happy and things worked out. A group of passerbys saw me in the dress and started cheering and applauding, giving their approval of the dress...and I was sold. It was a moment.

In other news, today we had an easy day...went to Easter service in the morning, then grocery shopping for Easter dinner. Dinner involved a LOT of red wine. We used almost 2 bottles just for cooking. My sister made a "drunken" risotto and I made Boeuf en Croute -- beef tenderloin coated in sauteed shallots, garlic and mushrooms, wrapped in puff pastry. Very easy, very yummy, and very elegant. Click here for the recipe. Mine was a bit odd shaped since the pastry puff was not cooperating with me. But you can get it to look like a nice loaf or pie shaped. Highly recommended for a dinner where you want to impress while doing minimum amount of work. Warning, the prep time is a bit long (around 1.5 hours) because the recipe requires you to refrigerate the beef and sautee. I chilled them for about half the required time, and it was fine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Oh the Places You Will Go...

ell well well...look at who's fallen off the blogging wagon yet again. That's right, yours truly. But I have a good excuse! I promise! A ton of things have happened in the last month and I have had all but zero time to gather myself. First off, on March 16 at almost midnight (the time I've been regularly getting home from work!), I opened the door to the Boyfriend's apartment to find him on his knee with candles all around and our sweet cat Oliver Atticus who had a bow tie wrapped around his neck. Of course, I've forgotten about 90% of what the Boyfriend said (as did he), but he held up Oliver who had a tag on his bowtie that asked me to marry him (the Boyfriend, not the cat). To make a long story short, the Boyfriend, now the Fiance, proposed with a beautiful beautiful engagement ring, which he had custom made using various inspirations provided by moi, but also with many of his own details. He also engraved it with his pet name for me and included a little pink sapphire. It's absolutely perfect and I love it with all of my heart and I love even more that he personally had a hand at designing definitely surprised me because it was even nicer than what I had imagined!

That was March 16. In almost a month since then, we have booked a venue, our photobooth, our photographers, our coordinator, drafted a guest list, and have gone dress shopping. In addition, I have billed over 250 hours of work, pulled some almost all nighters, gone to court, and coordinated my firm's community outreach documentary series on anti-trafficking. The Boyfriend has studied and taken his licensing exam and has worked countless hours with tons of stress. I'm pretty proud of what we've accomplished so far, and at how smoothly it's all gone. I can't wait to get the bigger stuff done so that I can focus on my favorite part, the decor!

I've been very very blessed in my life and I can't believe that I will be marrying the most perfect match for me! With him...everything feels extraordinary. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Retail Therapy

oes anyone else seek comfort in retail therapy? I know I do. Jill Zarin from the Real Housewives of NYC put it best - "I hate shopping, I love buying." Agreed. I could literally buy just a piece of gum and I'd be happy....sometimes I just have an itch to buy. Especially when I feel like I've been working really hard and I need something new in my life because the rest of me feels really old and haggard. But...I'm also a chronic returner because I also abhor wasting money. I will literally go an hour out of my day and travel extensively to return something. In any case, I indulged in a little bit of retail therapy and bought 3 things from Rue La La today.

and a jacket for the Boyfriend. All from Michael Kors and all for a very decent price. Don't judge me.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Daydreaming about Cooking Chinese Steamed Spareribs

t's been a bit since I last posted. Things over at this end of the screen have not been so pleasant as of late, and work and I have become inseparable. We need space. Desperately. So far I've had little luck getting this so-called space and work has latched on to me like a bad rash.

Lately, I have been eating bad food, sleeping very little, having bouts of overwhelming anger, and drinking lots of coffee. Oh and did I mention that I have not been exercising? I feel all of this "badness" adding up inside of me and wanting a burst of....detox or something. I also have a tendency to daydream ALL the time and one of the many things I daydream about when I'm busy at work is of cooking different dishes. One of the dishes I randomly crave is Chinese Steamed Spareribs. In a word, yum. A friend of mine from law school generously gave me a tupperware full of her dad's homemade spareribs while we were studying for the bar...and it was just so delicious and I want more!

Instead of waiting for Mr. Cheng to send me over another batch, I think I'll give it a go on my own. I'll let you know how it turns out!

{Photo Courtesy of Steamy Kitchen}
{Recipe available at Steamy Kitchen as well!}

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Body Aches

ast night I headed over to my new gym, Equinox on Wall Street, for a Kettleball Class. It was brutal. In fact, I think this is the most amount of pain I've ever been in from working out. Kettleballs are these cast iron balls with handles (I used two 10lb-ers and one 15lb-er). You use your body and your legs to throw the balls back and forth between your legs, swinging with the momentum, you pump them up into the air, and you do push ups and push one arm with the weight into the air...sigh. Needless to say, it was quite a work out. So today I am extremely sore, and every muscle in my body hurts, including my feet (feet??). Everything but my calves, oddly enough.

In any case, this is just another way my body is reminding me that I need to start working out more often! In other news (not really), Equinox is pretty amazing. The showers are clean with Kiehls shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. The towels are fresh, and studio rooms are spacious, it's lovely. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cheese of the Month Part II

y, this has been a very rough past few weeks! And it looks like things are only going to get busier. But! I didn't forget Cheese # 2 of the Cheese of the Month. I present to you, the Crottin de Champcol, a pasteurized goat cheese from Loire, France. This little cheese comes in a cylindrical form and has a very strong and spicy bite. Almost shockingly so! In French, Crottin means "road-apple" (as in dung, trailed along the road), which describes the moldy, dark coloring that covers a well aged Crottin. When young, the Crottin's interior is creamy and nutty, with the goat flavor becoming more pronounced as it ages. Honestly, I was not a fan of this one. There was a very strong spiciness to this cheese, making it difficult to enjoy. I'm hoping that I just picked up a bad one, especially considering that it's gotten great reviews. But I'm not inclined to buy this cheese again, there are just too many others to try!

Pairs well with a Sancerre.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Mornin'

oday is such a beautiful day. The Boyfriend made brunch and served french press coffee (his favorite), we cleaned his apartment, made an appointment at the salon, and started on a beef stew for dinner tonight. This weekend has been so relaxing so far, not a stitch of work to do and lots of time to catch up on some reading. Church tonight always gets us ready to start the week ... and life is good. Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel

ver the weekend I decided to try my hand at making some caramels from a great recipe I found on My Baking Addiction for Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel. This was an easy recipe to follow, but my first attempt was a bust since I did not use a candy thermometer and went on sight alone. Not a good idea. I undercooked the caramel and they never hardened. Back into the pot they went, this time with a candy thermometer on hand, and harden they did, while still staying flexible. I cut some wax paper squares, wrapped them and sent a batch to one of my favorite families, the Monserrat's in SF. I also handed some out to co-workers and they were a hit!

P.S. You don't absolutely have to use a thermometer, but I would highly recommend it.

{Photo courtesy of My Baking Addiction}

For recipe, please click here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's For Dinner Tonight? Baked Chicken Over Grilled Veggies

hicken is one of my favorite sources of protein and I'm always interested in easy, creative and yummy chicken recipes to try. This one was suggested to me by the Boyfriend's sister-in-law while we were visiting Vancouver this winter. Thanks Christine!

First, I seasoned the chicken breasts with a bit of freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and a little bit of paprika. Then, I browned them on both sides on my cast iron skillet and placed them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees (flipped it at the halfway mark). Once the chicken was done, I moved them to a separate plate and placed my sliced eggplants, squash (in place of zucchini) and bell peppers into the cast iron at medium to high heat.

With a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, I left them alone for about 7 minutes (flipping occasionally). Once they were done, I stacked the grilled veggies and the chicken on top of each other and sprinkled some freshly grated white cheddar cheese. This dish was a hit! The Boyfriend absolutely loved it!

What's For Dinner Tonight? Steak Night!

y wonderful Boyfriend decided that Saturday night would be steak night, prepared lovingly with his hands alone. I love these nights when he puts on his imaginary chef's hat, rolls up his sleeves, and gets in his cooking groove. We were doing a little bit of shopping in soho and headed to Dean and Deluca to pick up some steaks. It's quite expensive there but we were in the mood to splurge a little and grabbed some filets.

Please excuse my photos. Per usual, the pictures were taken in the evening with not the best lighting. I can promise you, the meal was scrumptious!

First, he seasoned the pieces with freshly ground sea salt and pepper. He later sprinkled a bit of olive oil over each and browned them in the cast iron skillet. After 2 minutes in the oven on each side, he placed a dab of butter and let them rest on teacup saucers, which were flipped upside down.

And voila! Coupled with a great bottle of red wine recommended by our wine specialist, we enjoyed a wonderful meal together.

Thanks babe. Once again, you remind me of how lucky I am to have a guy like you.