Thursday, September 30, 2010

a dress + a forgotten camera

Since getting my fashion mojo back, I've made a conscious decision not to buy just for the sake of buying.  I would go into a shop with some sort of plan, not simply with the hope of acquiring something new (and the subsequent but short lived high that accompanies that.)  I now ask myself the following questions: Where am I going to wear the purchase?  Will it serve multiple purposes?  Do I have shoes or accessories that complement it?  Do I already own one (or 10 as I do white tank tops?) Will I be able to use this purchase to "work my closet?"  Does the new piece work for me, my body type, my lifestyle, my age (or am I trying to pretend I'm someone else which for me is never a success?)  With all this in mind, I started taking quick iPhone pictures of myself in potential wins, with the thought that I would leave the store and come back if I really wanted the item.  Here I am in the dressing room snapping a picture

I had a few possible occasions in my mind.  A wedding, a reunion, dinner out.  I could change out the wrap for multiple belts, wear a cardi with it, a blazer, a denim jacket to dress it down, wedges, flat sandals...  Actually the potential was pretty limitless, and because I live in Southern California, this will even work into the winter. So I deemed it a win and bought it!  (I did leave the store, show a friend the picture, and then return a day later...)

This past weekend, I wore the dress (with a skinny gold belt, goldish 4 inch heeled sandals, and gold jewelry) to the wedding of an old boarding school friend of my husband's.  Over the last 15 years, Sparky and I have been to many weddings together. (In 1999 alone, we went to twelve!)  It's hard for me to believe, but this is the first one we've attended that was held at someone's own house and it was awesome--super relaxed and fun.  The mother of the bride's beautiful home has an amazingly LARGE (for California) yard.  There were lights and lanterns hung everywhere.  Couches and comfy chairs were strewn across the back lawn which sits a top a hill that overlooks the entire city.  And I'm understating it when I say the the DJ rocked.  Unfortunately,  these are the only pictures I have because I forgot my camera, but it was truly a magical night for the bride and groom and everyone in attendance.  Thank you Megan and Geoff for including us in your day.  We wish you lots of love and laughter.  

P.S. I'll also tell you that fire dancers and a chipped tooth (mine!) added to the excitement of the wedding.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 on Sesame Street is pretty scrumptious.

magnificent maleficent.

As the mother of two young daughters, I have a lot of Disney princess going on in my house.  For a long time I tried to fight the princess invasion, but soon found that was a futile cause.  It's not that I have a problem with Disneyland per se or the Princesses themselves, and I'm not an ultra modern feminist.  (I am, after all, a stay-at-home-mom in a pretty traditional marriage.)  However, it's really difficult for me to get behind the messages the old school Disney movies send. (I did, after all, grow up knowing I could be and do anything I wanted, graduate Magna Cum Laude from college, have a life before I was married, and rock my own career for quite awhile before retiring to the best non-paid job there is.)   So when I spotted this line of MAC makeup inspired by the Disney villains, I was (secretly) a little excited.  I don't endorse evil or anything, but I actually think my girlies could learn a little from these strong characters. And maybe if Disney mixed the strength, ambition, and hutzpah that these villains possess with the sweetness/goodness of the pretty princesses, I'd be a little more inclined to spend the 89.95 on the gown they're hoping to rip me off with sell me at the Disney Store.  Just sayin'.

Image here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

dinner last night (or i will lose those 6 pounds i gained in nyc AND still eat yummy food!)

I went to NYC in July and gained 6 pounds over the week eating my way through the city.  Let me start by saying it was the best 6 pounds I ever gained (and I've gained my share of 6 pounds.)  But now, well, it's almost 3 months later, and I'm still carrying around that amazing cheese plate from Balthazar, the quatro of paninis I nibbled to completion at Cafe Ino, and the 5 course spectacular I consumed at Gramercy Tavern.

Enjoying dessert (and a bottle of rose') with my friend Kim at Bar Pitti in NYC.

Fall has arrived (and even though we are hitting record temps here!) I'd like to fit back into my skinny jeans. Flowy sundresses and forgiving (although mini) skirts aren't going to to cut it for much longer. But, here's the thing--I pretty much suck at diets.  I like to eat, and eat well.  So I am determined to lose that 6 pounds while at the same time eating good meals.  Since I'm an amazing above average cook =), hopefully this won't be too difficult.

Dinner last night was citrus marinated, spice rubbed, pan roasted chicken with an avocado salsa, spicy white beans, and roasted corn on the cob.  

Citrus Marinade
1/2 cup of OJ
juice from one lemon and the lemon itself, cut in half
one clove garlic, finely chopped
one onion, sliced
large pour of olive oil

Spice Rub (I used Emeril's Southwest Essense, but I'm sure any will do.)

Put all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large ziplock and smush it around.  Add 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts and smush it around some more.  Then refrigerate for as long as you have (an hour will work, but the longer the better and if you only have 30 minutes, that's good too.)  Pour a bunch of spice rub onto a flat plate and coat both sides of the chicken after it's marinaded.   Saute over med-high heat in olive oil three minutes, flip, and put into a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until almost done.  Cover each chicken breast with a slice of pepper jack cheese (or plain old jack if you aren't into spicy.)  Return to oven for a minute to melt the cheese. Top chicken with avocado salsa (recipe follows.)

Avocado Salsa
one avocado, diced
jalepeno, seeded and membrane removed, finely chopped
juice from one lime

Toss everything gently and refrigerate for an hour (or five minutes if that's all you've got!)

Spicy (Cheater) Beans
one can great northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can of Herdez (the best non-fresh, non home made ever) salsa
Dump everything in a pot and heat through.

Roasted Corn on the Cob
Butter corn and wrap completely in foil.
Roast at 400 degrees for 35 minutes (put in 20 minutes before you start to cook chicken.) Generously salt  after roasting.

P.S.  I am completely unhappy with these photographs but am sharing them anyway.  It's really difficult for me to photograph food at dinner time.  I think food network should produce a show starring a mommy putting together a real meal, all while stumbling over an over fed 10 year old lab, negotiating with a five year old, carrying around a two year old (who otherwise would be following her around the kitchen repeating "hold you" over and over,) and counting the minutes until hubby gets home.  Oh, and sipping a glass of cab at the same time.  Now THAT would be impressive!  (Maybe I could be the host???)

I don't add the spice rub to the girlies' chicken.
I also put theirs over brown 
rice since they aren't
getting the spicy avocado salsa either.

Actually, I could eat this avocado salsa over a
bowl of white beans
as a meal in itself.
But that's not quite enough for Sparky.

Monday, September 27, 2010

a popsicle kind of day.

Summer has finally hit us in Newport Beach now that it's officially fall.  It's supposed to be near one hundred degrees today!  When the five year old gets home from school I'll have home made popsicles waiting for her.  I think I just might add a little Ketel One to a few of them for Sparky and me as an after (girlies') bedtime cool down snack.  Did I mention we don't have air conditioning!?

Friday, September 24, 2010

in search of eustace

I don't really remember how I stumbled across this video (you know how it goes... click..., kinda awesome.)  And, I still can't quite pinpoint why it's captivated me so.  Anyway, this is Scottish photographer David Eustace's documentation of a three week road trip he took with his teenage daughter Rachel.

And I'm seriously loving that song by Grant Campbell, it's making me feel all moody and alluring at 9 a.m.  Nice change on a Friday morning.

Have a thought provoking weekend.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

let them eat (birthday) cake.

Last week my much older (by three years) brother turned the big four oh, (which did more to make me feel old than it did him.  Go figure.)  Although I cook a lot, I am not much of a baker (anymore*), but to commemorate the special day I made my very first chocolate cake from scratch (and not a Duncan Hines cake mix.)  I also made chocolate buttercream frosting from scratch.  I have to toot my own horn and say they were both delish.  The cake was moist perfection, and given that the dial on my 26 year old oven has only sharpie marks for its temperature settings, I was a bit in shock over it. The five year old happily decorated it.

Happy Birthday Denny!  I love you more than you'll ever know.  

Although there was plenty of frosting to ice the cake, I'll be doubling the recipe the next time I make this; there certainly wasn't enough for the girlies and me to eat big spoonfuls while we watched the cake bake!
(I apologize for the quality of the photos.  Battery was dead on the Canon, and all I had handy was my iPhone.)
Just after "helping" to blow out the candles.  (That's chocolate frosting on the corner of the five year old's mouth.) 

Kathy's Chocolate Cake

1 ¾ cup flour

2 cups sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.  Combine all of the dry ingredients.  Add everything else except the water and beat for 2 minutes.  Stir in the water and then pour into the prepared pans.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.  Cool in pans and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Frost with chocolate buttercream frosting, below (put out butter to soften while making cake).

Chocolate buttercream frosting  (Don't forget to double this, if frosting is your favorite part of cake eating!) 

3 cups powdered sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup butter, softened

Combine all ingredients except the butter, then mix in the butter. 

*The reason I no longer bake is because I have no self control; I eat too much of what I bake,  I get a tummy ache, (gain 5 pounds,) and end up on a sugar detox. :(

Monday, September 20, 2010

on sale now.

I just discovered Blinde Eyewear over on Gilt. (Killer sale of course!)  Each pair of sunglasses has a catchy (or is it kitsy?) name like "Let's Go All The Way" or (conversely) "Forget About Me."   First off, I'd like to own a pair of "Never Had It So Good"s in coral tortoise, please.  And secondly, how fun would it be to add "Sunglass Name Creator" to one's resume?





Sunday, September 19, 2010

the detox

I'm only sharing this here (with you-- my nine readers) with the hope that if I write it out loud, I will actually abide to it.  So here it goes.  For the next two weeks (14 entire days,)  I GIVE UP SUGAR.  And by sugar, I mean sweets, desserts, cookies, ice cream, candy, and foods with added sugar in them.  I DO NOT in any way mean wine.  Just to be clear.

The cupcake that put me over the edge.

Update:  I must confess that during a semi-breakdown after an epically bad day, I ate an entire Hershey's chocolate bar smeared with Skippy creamy peanut butter Wednesday night while watching a dvr'd (or is it dvred?) episode of Parenthood.  Please don't judge me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

discoveries* made.

(*And by discoveries, I mean existing treasures I happened upon while drinking my coffee watching Sesame Street with the two year old.)

An important lesson for all of us: How to be Alone.  (First seen here.)

Oh, how lucky to be Italian, fashionable, focused, blonde, beautiful, twenty-three...and all at the same time! (Spied her cute braid here.)

It's cold this morning and I'm thinking it would be yummy to be eating this for dinner.  And (for a change) I'd like someone to make it for me.

But by early afternoon it will be warm again (this is Orange County after all) and I'd happily sip on this.

If money grew on trees and the five year old cared at all about real fashion, I'd buy her this for the fall.

A fun new bag for fall into winter would be nice.  This oversized red one would do.  Or perhaps this gray hobo (ruffles and studs!)

This little dude keeps poppin' up and I just heart him very much.  (In my mind he's wearing a yellow sweatshirt and red track pants, don't know why.)

I'm really excited to be seeing this film with some of my girlfriends on Sunday.  Hope Josh Duhamel doesn't disappoint.  (What am I saying?  Of course, he won't!)

Have a splendid weekend.

girl crushin'.

I just can't seem to get this girl out of my head.  I want to be her.  Just for a day.  Or two.

via Vanessa Jackman
I mean, c'mon.  The lovely shade and wave of her hair, that perky nose, those long perfect legs, the glorious shoes.  I die.  Oh, and the best part, she's in Paris.  (Although I'm sure it'd be fun to walk in her shoes in any city.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

little hands.

She reminds me that life is in the doing, not in the getting done.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

gray area.

Is grey the new black?  A new trend?  Am I just feeling sad?  (No, that's not it.)  Any which way, I seem to have acquired quite a bit of it in the last year.  I've been searching for a pair of boots to add to my shades of gray collection.  I have some specifics in mind.  First off, they need to be tall, preferably to the knee.  Secondly, they need to be flat given that I want them for daily wear, not just for a night on the town.  (What can I say?  I don't rock the four inch heels in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon.)  Thirdly, the diameter of the shaft has to be big enough to accomodate my rather ample calves in a pair of skinny jeans (but not so wide as to look ridiculous when worn with a thin pair of tights and a mini skirt.)  Fourthly, they need to be leather (not suede) as I'll be wearing them even in the rain (not that we get much in Southern California.)  Fifthly, (and this is rather important to Sparky) they need not to break the bank.  Here are a few picks that (mostly) fit the bill.

Born Riding Boot from Garnet Hill

Frye Paige Tall Riding Boot

I'd have to take the tassels off of this pair from Burno Premi.

Frye Carson Riding Boot

 Alberto Fermani Over the Knee Boots  
(These don't fit my criteria in the least!  But... the ombre of the gray, and the delicious supple leather, and the leg lengthening look...  Oh well.   A girl's entitled to change her mind.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

let them eat cake (or she was so mad she threw the whole cake at him and walked away in her red high heels.)

Yesterday, during my daily surf (internet, that is) I happened upon this spectacular blog oh happy day!  The creator is San Francisco party planner Jordan Ferney and her hubby is artist Paul Ferney.  (Wouldn't it be fun to be invited to their house for dinner!?)  Recently, they collaborated on an art show and it wasn't just the whimsical paintings that made it so wonderful.  Jordan also created little stories to go along with every cake painting.  Each story is told in one simple clever sentence and leaves one's mind to wonder (or is it wander...?)  I can totally see myself surveying each painting, head cocked slightly askew, imagining the characters behind the cake.  And at the same time I'd be digging my fork into a piece of red velvet chocolate because they also served cake during the showing.  (Genius.)

She broke up with him because he didn’t offer her a bite of his chocolate cake.
She had just kissed a stranger on the sidewalk and was in the mood for some cake.
After he baked her a cake from scratch, she knew he was the boy she was going to marry.

Monday, September 6, 2010

forever friends.

When I lived with my good friend Kim many years ago, Friends was in its 7th season.  Like most girls (er, women) in our 20s, she and I adored the show.  We came up with the idea that there should be an ALL FRIENDS, ALL THE TIME network.  This was before the heyday of Hulu, Netflix, and DVRing.  The dvd of the first season wasn't even available yet.  Sure, the reruns were playing at 11 and 11:30 p.m. on KTLA channel 5 here in Orange County,  but that wasn't enough for us.  Even today, Kim and I still love the show and will, once in a while,  text at 11:02 to tell the other what episode is playing.  (And yes, it's still in syndication on KTLA channel 5 at the same time all these years later.)  I've seen EVERY episode, multiple times, and still find humor in all of them.  So yesterday, when I accidentally discovered these deleted scenes on Youtube, I literally jumped up and down while clapping my hands.  I know, a little pathetic and dorky, but what can I say? 

Here are the deleted scenes in no particular order--

Monica and Chandler's wedding (poor Ross)
Emma crawls (Lisa Kudrow subtly steals the scene again.)
Chandler and Monica at the airport (Chandler + jokes = FAIL) 
Joey struggling with baby locks (classic Joey)

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!  

Saturday, September 4, 2010

let them eat cake.

A macaroni and cheese cupcake, that is.  I am so making this for my next party.  (Really, though who needs a party?  The girlies can have these with a side of broccoli for dinner, Sparky would eat about 15 of them, and I'll munch on one (or two...) while sipping a glass of cabernet as I watch the first season of netflixed Mad Men.)

Photo and recipe courtesy of Framed Cooks.

And consider the possibilities of what else might be made into a cupcake?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


It's not that I don't adore our house, because I do.  Over the last 8 years, we've turned our house into a home.  It's filled with love, a family of five, including two funny and gorgeous girlies and one fat happy lab, lots and lots of books, dolls, blocks, toys, more books, pink, some carefully and some not so carefully chosen furniture, a big comfy bed, carpet stains, beautiful photographs, good food made in a crappy old kitchen, laughter, visiting friends, red wine, and love (yes, I know I already said that.)   But this, well this is my dream house.  And I'm quite certain, we'd have no problem what so ever turning it into our dream home.  (I can already faintly see a melted popsicle stain next to those red shoes.)

Photographs courtesy of Erin and her lovely blog, House of Turquoise.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

dinner last night: making do.

A trip to Gelson's seemed out of the range of reason yesterday even though the list of edible items in our kitchen has dwindled to little (or nothing according to the five year old.) We are leaving for the long weekend on Friday morning and have plans for dinner the next two nights, so really, what point was there?  (Although, I'm fairly certain the lack of motivation for a grocery store run was due more to my laziness and my desire to spend one of the last days of summer with the girlies at the pool.)  So I decided to give Ava a lesson in making do (rather than ordering out for pizza) and here's what we used:  

one onion, sliced and caramelized in a couple swirls of olive oil 
(with a bit of brown sugar added at just the right moment--Is there anything better than the smell of sauteed onions?  Maybe homemade chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, but I digress.)
frozen organic brown rice from Trader Joe's (cooks in 3 minutes in the micro!)
grilled corn on the cob left over from Sunday's bbq
a few packages of soy sauce 
three eggs, scrambled
a bag of mixed veggies from the freezer
oh, and of course, the current house pour (for momma and Sparky)

Okay, so nothing spectacularly gourmet happening here, I realize that. But the resulting meal of vegetable fried rice was actually pretty tasty and on top of that healthy, and on top of that cheap.  A win, win, win in my book.  If I thought anyone was actually reading this, I'd ask what's your go to, make do meal?