Saturday, December 31, 2011
Ok, seriously, don't get sick this winter. Whatever the heck is going around is nasty. 2 weeks of being sick (and sick over the holidays mind you) has been just horrible and gross. Do whatever you can my friends to avoid the bug. What has helped me somewhat is Mucinex DM (I got the Target brand one).
So the last two weeks have been a blur and I don't think I can remember all the stuff that has happened however here's what I do remember:
Date #4: Take our makeshift Christmas card picture and have lunch.
Date #5: Have dinner and coffee with Mark's old roommate (group date haha).
Date #6: Decorate Christmas stockings together.
Date #7: Watch Nacho Libre again on Christmas day to start a family tradition and go out for a sushi dinner.
Date #8: Drive to WI for my old co-worker's wedding and have lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market (fried cheese curds are divine).
Date #9: Have a sushi dinner in WI (the fish was not bad!) and watch the Laker game together.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Date #1: Watch "The Pixar Story" on Netflix at home.
Date #2: Buy Santa hats at the Dollar Tree and then drink coffee and eat Pumpkin Cheesecake (my favorite!) at Barnes and Noble. Lastly, hit up the jacuzzi in our apartment complex.
Date #3: Eat Thai food and drink Thai iced tea (reminds me of Kayla!) at Nathan's Noodle and Rice in Elmhurst, IL and then forget to bring home the leftovers (doh!).
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Today I woke up craving The Original Tommy's. Damn it. Flavorful, thick, rich chili that sticks to your insides smothered on and eaten with everything. :((( I almost had them cater the wedding....too expensive. My brother and I would eat Tommy's together in the middle of the night. You can't live in Fountain Valley, CA and not love Tommy's.
I'd like to order a #2 with extra chili and tomatos with chili fries but with the chili on the side and a Coke. That's my usual. Now I will go cry as I eat cereal for lunch.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Mark and I were talking about it recently but this will be one of the few Christmases that we've ever spent together even during our dating career. Of course it's extra special that it our first as hubby and wifey. We'll be spending the Christmas season apart from our parents (although we'll be spending some time with his aunt and uncle and their family) and it got me thinking about starting our own Christmas traditions. I think we kind of talked about this before we got married. Like, who's parents would we have to go to on Christmas Day or on Christmas Eve (That's a tip right there. Figure that stuff out BEFORE the Christmas season. Unknown expectations from the family are a bitch!) but I don't remember that we talked about starting our own traditions.
I guess our first tradition was getting a tree. Neither of our parents put a tree anymore so I suppose it'll be a tradition for us now. I stumbled upon the idea on this blog, here, who got it from this blog, here, who got it from this blog, here. The idea is "12 Dates of Christmas" when you intentionally spend time together during the Christmas season. One of the bloggers and her husband each secretly wrote dates and put them in envelopes to be opened and done on different days and it seems like the other bloggers just intentionally did things together during the month.
I think this is a great idea for people who are married, who are dating, and who are single. For instance, if I were single I'd go on 12 "dates" with different friends to catch up with during December. That would be a lot of fun. I like how some of the dates that the bloggers go on are simple like: decorate the tree and listen to Christmas music, or see Christmas lights, or do some Christmas shopping together. I think the key here is being intentional during this season to connect with people and show them you love them because that's what the first Christmas was all about.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Baggu reuseable bags are prefect for your eco-friendly friend or a frequent day traveler. A cool stocking stuffer because of their size. Check out all the nice colors and patterns. The bags vary in shape and cost from under $10 - $100+. I'm partial to the stripes if you couldn't tell. :P
Monday, December 12, 2011
Funko makes these cute POP! dolls that you can find at Target and Barnes and Noble stores and I'm sure other places too. These would be ok for kids but they're really made for big kids (aka adults). They have most superheros, Star Wars characters, and some popular Disney characters. Some of them are bobble heads whereas others are not. While they are incredibly cute I must say that the quality of these dolls are very poor. The consistency of paint and color can be off and messy so choose your doll carefully before buying.
Friday, December 9, 2011
2012 has been dubbed the year of Tangerine Tango by Pantone. I think the color is more orange and less red than what the swatch looks like in the press release (above).
Here are a few things that I pulled on Polyvore to get a feel for Tangerine Tango. Remember that lighter shades can be drawn from the color to get a more creamy orange (reminds me of Orange Bang!) or keep it as a saturated almost tropical orange color. Is it bad that I'm ready for spring now?
Thursday, December 8, 2011
We had leftover soup and I decided to make a casserole type noodle bake. Keeping this recipe from Pioneer Woman in mind I made my own noodle bake. I thickened up the soup (about 2-3 cups) with some extra butter, flour, and milk. Threw in some noodles that were cooked a little under al dente and some pulled turkey meat. Gave it a stir, poured it in a casserole dish and topped with it with mozzarella cheese. 350 degrees for 30 min and browned the top with the broiler.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I think more engagement rings will have color to them in the future with the influence of rings like the sapphire royal engagement ring. Diamonds beautiful and traditional but for many people they're just not economical especially when you consider that the wedding will not be cheap either. For me personally I preferred having color to my engagement ring because it seemed more interesting and unique than a diamond that everyone has. Plus, I knew that Mark was definitely limited to a budget. Mark chose the ring himself (with the help of some secret agents) but I definitely dropped hints that I didn't want a diamond.
Check out beautiful examples from Bario-Neal that use colored stones and that I think would be really pretty engagement rings. I like the raw stones and the reticulated bands (kind of bumpy) bands that they have on the site. I'm not suggesting that you buy rings from Bario-Neal (unless you really want to) but get ideas from the site and find a jeweler who can make an affordable version. Definitely not for everyone's taste but it's nice to know that different options are available out there. One thing that I'd like to mention is to keep the wedding band in mind when you think about engagement rings (or mention to your guy if he's choosing the ring). For example, my ring's tapered band is so that a typical wedding won't lay flush to it. It'll require a custom wedding band to match but we didn't discover this problem until we went wedding band shopping. Probably something that should have been pointed out by the jeweler that Mark went to but oh well it doesn't keep me up at night.
[1, top] Custom Turquoise Ring
 Cala Sapphire Ring
 Avens Ruby Ring
 Custom Airy Sapphire Ring
 Custom Bezel Ring with Rough Sapphire
 Custom Rough Emerald Ring
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Today, our "Sunday," we had brunch at Honey in Glen Ellyn, IL for the first time. One of our friends had good things to say and we were kind of in the area so we checked it out. I had the Caprese Benedict which is two poached eggs on a tomato-basil foccacia bread with fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with a creamy basil pesto infused hollandaise sauce. I love pesto and I love eggs benedict so it seemed like a match made in heaven. Was actually pretty good. The eggs were wonderfully poached (you know how I LOVE a runny egg) and the pesto went really well with the dish. The foccacia bread was a little tough in the beginning but once it soaked in some yolk and pesto it was fine. Mark had the Lunchbox Meatloaf Sandwich which was good too. The sweet potato fries were good. The point-and-shoot picture of that came out blurry so I'm not putting it up. :/ Sorries.
Monday, December 5, 2011
It's our Saturday on Mondays so Mark wanted to have a date day. We tried a new place for dinner, Tom & Eddie's in Lombard, IL. They serve 'gourmet' burgers. Mark tried The Ampersand signature burger (top) and I tired the Baby Bella & Swiss signature burger (bottom). They were pretty good...not sure if it was worth the price. What REALLY impressed me was the Boylan sodas that they had on the fountain. Trader Joe's used to sell Boylan sodas at but no longer. :((( I believe they had 5 flavors at Tom & Eddie's....my favorite being Black Cherry. I think I would go there just to get a soda and bring a huge jug to fill up.
Friday, December 2, 2011
I love the Christmas season. My friend Steve and I always start listening to Christmas music as soon as Halloween is done. I have to do it secretly because Mark gets mad when Christmas encroaches on Thanksgiving. I hope your hearth is filled with holiday cheer. If not then get on the ball this weekend, yo. These are the Woodland ornaments from Martha Stewart at Home Depot. A set of 71 is like $20. Not the best quality but a pretty good deal in my book. Don't forget to buy hooks.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Ok, so I thought about posting this under my "Unsolicited Wedding Advice Wednesdays" but I thought, "Naw, bows are cool everyday." So I spied this trick while in China with my lovely work buddy, Shelby, what up! We were looking at notions and embellishments but I saw a lady making tiny bows out of really short pieces of ribbon. She had a box of maybe a couple THOUSAND pieces of ribbon...uber cray cray. But she was cranking them out in seconds and I just stared as Shelby was busy working haha. Anyway, I wanted to share this trick because one thing I HATE is wasting ribbon. God, I'm such a nerd.
Please forgive my horrible looking nails. I totally forgot to buy nail polish remover at Target today. :/
Cut your ribbon.
If you're not sure how long to make your ribbon piece I suggest making a test ribbon first. When you find a length that works measure it and keep it to the side so you can cut your ribbon pieces to the correct length. You'll find that the width of the ribbon will impact how long to make the length. My ribbon width is 1/4" and the length was 6.5" from tip to tip.
Take one of the ends and make a loop close to the end with the rest of the ribbon behind it. Notice that the short end is on top of the loop. This makes one of the tails and 'rabbit tails' of the ribbon so if you already have an idea of about how long these part should be then you'll know how short to make this first loop.
Use your right thumb to hold the loop made in step 2 and wrap the long piece of ribbon around your thumb. This will be the middle part of the bow.
Pull the second loop through.
Ok, this might be tricky to explain but the next step is to make another 'rabbit ear' with the remaining long end and pull it through the middle loop around your right thumb from step 3.
Even out the tails of the bow and the size of the 'rabbit ears' of the bow and tighten. You're done! You've made a tiny bow without wasting extra ribbon and it only took a short amount of time! Adhere these bows to scrapbook pages, cards, crafts, invites, hair clips, whatever you like!
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Ok, I'm not usually one to recommend "As Seen on TV" products (Shake Weights and Pajama Jeans come to mind) however I will make an exception for the Vidalia Chop Wizard. You can register for it at Bed Bath & Beyond or use one of those 20% off coupons you always get in the mail. The Vidalia Chop Wizard is great for chopping vegetables (especially onions) in to uniform pieces. It comes with two different size grates that cuts the veggie as you press it down with the cover. I especially like to use it when I chop veggies for soups, chili, and salsa. Easy to use and dishwasher safe is a gold star in my book!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Ok, so Mark's work gave him a free turkey but I knew we were going to his aunt and uncle's house so we didn't need the turkey for Thanksgiving. I broke down the raw turkey and froze all its yummy parts for later use and boiled the remaining carcass to make homemade turkey stock. It was a lot more stock than I needed for this soup but I froze the rest in some ice cube trays for later use.
**update: This post was written last week and since then I've had to make a second batch of this because Mark liked it so much. :P
Homemade Turkey Stock
**You don't have to use a carcass but if you use breast, wing, thigh, etc meat use the bone-in because it will taste better.
Turkey/chicken carcass (hahaha it seems so barbaric) or bones or actua
1 large onion, rough chop (large pieces)
3 celery stalks, rough chop
2 large carrots, rough chop
1 Tbsp of italian seasoning
Salt and Pepper
1. Place your protein carcass/bones in a large stock pot. Fill with water until carcass is covered. Throw in the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 1-2 hours. Skim off any foam or extra oil that comes to the top. Once it has cooled, skim off any fat and remove carcass to salvage any meat that is available. Save meat in a separate container. Strain the stock and toss the bones and veggies.
Creamy Turkey Soup with Egg Noodles
**Obviously you don't need to make your own stock for this. Store bought chicken stock will do just fine.
1/2 cup of butter
1 large onion, large dice
1/4 cup flour
6 cups of turkey or chicken stock (more or less depending on how thick and creamy you want it)
2 cups cream and/or milk
3 stalks of celery, large dice
2 large carrots, large dice
1 peeled potato, large dice
5 stalks of green onion or 1 leek, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
cooked turkey meat
1. In a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven saute onions with butter. Before the onions get soft, mix in flour. Cook for about 2 min. Scrape the bottom of the pot while adding cream and 2 cups of stock. Stir until it thickens a bit. Add remaining veggies, garlic, and stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 30 min or until the veggies aren't raw anymore. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. (If you're not going to eat all of the soup in one sitting then I'd recommend cooking the noodles separately.) Add noodles and cook until al dente. Place cooked turkey meat in bowl and ladle over the meat with the soup. Garnish with sliced green onions.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Two Sundays ago Mark and I had dinner at our friends' house (what up, C+S!) and we were served some delicious food. Tonight's dinner was a copycat of that de-lish meal with salmon and roasted broccoli. The creamy turkey soup on the side was my addition to the meal which I will share tomorrow.
Oven-Roasted Salmon (adapted from ATK)
1/2 stick of butter
1 shallot, minced
1 heaping Tbsp of fresh dill, minced
1 (4 lb) side of salmon, skin on (mine wasn't but I think skin on would've tasted better)
2 lemon, one sliced and the other for juice
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and adjust rack to middle position
1. Melt butter in a saucepan, add shallots and cook until soft (1min). Take off heat and add dill and the juice of half a lemon.
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil and spray with cooking spray. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and lay on foil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover salmon with the dill butter and lay the sliced lemons on top. Roast for 12 min. Serve with lemon wedges and extra fresh dill.
Roasted Broccoli (adapted from Rachael Ray)
**I used my toaster oven while the salmon was in the oven but you can use the oven just the same.
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees
1. Prep the broccoli by removing the tough other skin on the stem with a paring knife. Cut to bite-size pieces. Line the rimmed tray with foil and place broccoli on top. Lightly drizzle EVOO evenly over the broccoli. Sprinkle with chili powder, paprika, garlic, and salt + pepper. Roast until bright green, about 12 min.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
It's been two months since we moved to our cozy little apartment. We only have carpet in our bedroom and because of the moving expenses we opted to wait to buy a vacu-um ("Enchanted," anyone?!) a little later. But a little later ended up being two months later (I know, gross). We actually might have waited longer if Mark's allergies hadn't gotten so bad LOL. Mark has pretty bad allergies so we had to do some research to get a good one. We ended up getting the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum Pro. It's a really easy to use vacuum and we were both impressed by it's suction power. One con is that it's attachements need to be stored separately but so far that's the only bad thing. We bought ours from Bed, Bath, and Beyond with a 20% off coupon and paid about $160.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
So a while back I watched a Japanese video on YouTube that demonstrated how to fold a shirt and I was so amazed by the sorcery that time to time I would yield its magic to fold my shirts. Nowadays I use a method that's based on that video but is less confusing for my brain. I will share my method with you today. In hind sight I should've used my Lakers t-shirt for this but whatever. Happy laundry folding!
Holding the top of the t-shirt with your right hand and the bottom hem with your left fold back the right sleeve. Notice that the fold is not directly on the collar but like 2 inches away. Adjust this distance to your preference.
Take your left hand holding the bottom hem to your right hand and fold the t-shirt in half bringing the bottom hem up to the top of the t-shirt.
Next, fold back the left sleeve to match what you've done up til now. Notice that the distance from the collar on either side is somewhat even. I know, it's kind of anal but if you're actually following this post you're probably a somewhat anal person. You're in good company, friend.
Fold the whole thing in half again so that it looks like the picture below. You did it!
Ok, so if you're like me at this point you'd want to see a demonstration. So using the timer setting on my point and shoot I have tried to do the steps again but including my hands. This was a very awkward process to shoot. Imagine me setting up the camera and hunching in front of it with the shirt above my ducked head. All in my PJs.
This is a shot of what Step 3 looks like from the back of the t-shirt.