Wednesday, February 29, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : MS at Staples

Who is MS? Why, Martha Stewart, of course.  The woman/brand we love and hate because her creative team is so damn good. Check out all the new MS Home Office products exclusively at Staples. But don't be deceived because these products could definitely become beautiful wedding labels, decorations, gift packaging, favors, and more. I'm really excited about the lovlies! Here's a look and some of the products:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

salmon sandwich

I made another batch of Albert's Baked Salmon last week and I just had a bitty piece left. It wasn't substantial enough on its own so I decided to make it into a sandwich or samich as Mark and I like to call it. I think sandwiches are one of my favorite foods. But one thing I hate hate hate is a dry sandwich. I always need some kind of spread (it's usually mayo ... I know it's totally bad for you but I can't live without it!) and today I went with hummus on my toasted roll (ok, fine ... hummus and mayo). Word to the wise, put your protein on the bottom half of your sandwich and not the leafy stuff otherwise you'll have a slip and slide situation on your hands. If you're not going to be seeing anyone for the rest of your day then add a handful of green onions to add a little umph! Now, that's what I call lunch, yum!

Monday, February 27, 2012

pet plants

At the orchid show Mark and I decided to try our hand in growing them at home. We each chose a plant to take home and care for.  The orchid I chose is the first image and Mark's orchid is the second. As our surrogate pets we named them, Inky and Flower. I hope they live!

Friday, February 24, 2012

orchid show

Orchids have a special place in our hearts for both Mark and me.  Both of our parents are avid growers and collectors of orchids ever since we can remember. Today we went to visit the Hausermann Orchid Show in Villa Park, IL. The show is going on this weekend and next weekend. Seriously, it's amazing how many different varieties of orchids they have and the sheer quantity of them too. It was little overwhelming. I particularly like the spotted orchids that looked like ink had bled on their pure white petals. Mark rented a macro lens for the occasion from Calumet and we experimented using it for the first time at the show. After we came home I realized that some of the shots came out blurry but I was able to get a couple shots that I was happy with.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

iPhone envy

Mark just got an iPhone so we went case shopping.  He ended up getting a simple case at a Sprint kiosk but here are just a few cases (I honestly had to refrain myself from continue adding to this list) that I thought were pretty cool from Society 6. Seriously, there are SO many awesome cases to choose from that it's practically impossible to make a decision on just one. Good thing I don't have an iPhone otherwise I'd be in big trouble. Unfortunately for Mark now he's tempted to get a new case. Let the decision-making begin...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : garnish

I love cute containers for food and favors.  They're the type of thing you feel really bad about throwing away. It certainly adds a little to the budget but if you can afford the extra touch it really does pay off aesthetically. Check out Garnish for cute packaging and also for ideas on their site. I have a feeling that some of the things they sell could also be found at restaurant supply stores or stores like Smart and Final (if you live in CA, NV, or AZ) but it's definitely a cute site to check out. I love the berry boxes (top left image).  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

looking toward spring

Pantone's color report for Spring 2012 include the colors Sweet Lilac, Cockatoo (an aqua color), Tangerine Tango (Pantone's Color of the Year), and Driftwood among others. Winter is still going strong in IL but it's nice to know that spring is coming soon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

poor man's fish tacos

Fill this post under: "Desperate."

There are some foods/dishes here in IL that are delicious and cannot be found in CA (I'm comparing IL suburbs to CA suburbs).  HOWEVER, a vast greater amount of foods/dishes that are equally delicious cannot be found in IL no matter how much you look.  One such food is a simple fish taco. I'm talking about a Wahoo's or a Rubio's fish taco (I prefer Rubio's) that you don't think twice about if you live in CA until you move away but is found basically any city in Orange County, CA.

Tonight we had the poor man's fish taco.  A warmed corn tortilla with a bed of shredded cabbage, two microwaved frozen fish sticks topped with Mexican crema, pico de gallo, and lime juice. The fish sticks we used are from Costco called "The Ultimate Fish Stick" made by Trident Seafood (they're actually pretty good).

Friday, February 17, 2012

birthday boy dessert request #2 : key lime pie

I have posted before regarding Mark's love for key lime pie, here. If we eat out and the restaurant serves it then 9 times out of 10 he'll order it even if he just finished saying, "Augh, I'm so full." So naturally he requested that one of his birthday desserts be key lime fact he requested 2 pies spread out over the month.  LOL Oh my sweet hubby and his sweet tooth.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

taco grill & salsa bar

Good mexican food is hard to find here in IL but I think Mark and I found our taco home away from home at Taco Grill & Salsa Bar in Westmont, IL. Delicious meats and an extensive salsa bar to write home about. We like it so much we ate there for Valentine's Day. That's how we roll. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : baker's twine

A staple for every bride-to-be out there nowadays has got to be baker's twine. So cute and adorable and the uses are endless - from wrapping a gift/favor, making a garland, making twine pom-poms, etc. The only thing you can't do with it is run it through your sewing machine (I've tried). But not all twines are created equal. When shopping for baker's twine you should look at yardage versus price but also the ply quantity. The ply quantity refers to the number of strings twisted to make the twine.  So 3-ply means 3 strings (2 white and 1 colored string twisted) and 4-ply means 4 strings (3 white and 1 colored string twisted). Naturally this means that the 4-ply feels thicker and more plush than the 3-ply. I can't say for sure but it is also my guess that not all 4-ply twines feel the same. Their plushness might depend on how the strings are manufactured too. But this difference is probably nominal and is just my hypothesis.  

I've price compared a single spool of the basic red/white twine from 3 popular sites:
Divine Twine : 240 yards, 4ply, $15 - shipping $4.12
The Twinery : 240 yards, 4 ply, $14 - shipping $3
Bakers Twine : 240 yards, 4 ply, $12 (sale price, normally $15) - shipping $5

If you're in the market for bulk twine then you can buy a 2-pound cone (3400 yards) for $10 + shipping $8.20, here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

valentine's day palette

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Here's a color palette of blushing pink, fiery red, and playful orange that I think would fit nicely for today. Tell those you love that you love them! <3

Monday, February 13, 2012

birthday boy dessert request #1 : pizookie

My sweet hubby had two birthday dessert requests and here's one of them - a chocolate chip pizookie. If you're from California you should be well acquainted with the BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse (ironically they serve "Chicago style" deep dish pizza...don't be fooled it's not authentic) pizookie and all their wonderful cookie flavors. A pizookie is a freshly baked cookie served warm from the oven in a pizza style dish and topped with loads of cool delicious vanilla ice-cream.

For my homemade version I used an entire recipe of ATK's Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie and pressed it into a baking dish. Imagine the second picture covered with scoops of vanilla bean ice-cream and then imagine 10 people devouring it in a matter seconds. It went so fast I didn't even have time to take a picture.  ;P

Saturday, February 11, 2012

happy birthday to my sweet hubby

Today my sweet Mark turns a cool 28 years old. Unfortunately the birthday boy had work today but fortunately for me it gave me a chance to decorate the apartment as a surprise when he came home. I made a colorful DIY garland out of paint chips from Home Depot (took me 3 trips to collect enough). Sadly, my sewing machine is still in CA (not sure how to ship it, bah!) so I had to string tie these puppies by hand. Sewing them would have been SOOO much easier. *sigh*

I used two different size circle punches and one with scalloped edges to make the circles and put two wrong-sides together so the ugly backside of the paint chip wouldn't show as much as possible.  Rather than being anal I decided to space them out randomly to make more of a confetti-like look. As I made my garland I kept the ends of the string long and taped one end to a stiff piece of cardboard to wrap it around as I progressed to keep it from tangling...which is the worst thing that could happen after you've spent so much time making the damn thing.

Above all I am so happy to celebrating today WITH Mark and not long distance like we did for too many years.  Happy Birthday, my sweet hubby.

Friday, February 10, 2012

snowy friday

It's a snowy Friday and brrr it's cold outside!  I'm definitely more of a practical gal and will gladly sacrifice "fashion" for warmth. However, if I could have both (AND if I had a different body type) I would totally wear this out tonight for dinner....we're having Portillo's.  We're so fancy, huh?  LOL

Thursday, February 9, 2012

what i'm watching on hulu

Castle is one of my favorite shows on TV and I've been watching since the pilot first aired.  I love Nathan Fillion (sorry, hubby) and I enjoy the balance of crime scene mystery with comic relief.

Grimm is taking advantage of the fairy tale phenomenon on TV and movies.  It's a darker twist to the genre though which I like because the original Grimm fairy tales were actually quite dark.

New Girl stars Zooey Deschanel.  I can't decide if I like her or if she annoys me.  Probably a little of both.  Actually, Mark and I both like the character Schmidt the best.  His one-liners are too funny.

Once Upon a Time is created by two writers who were part of the staff that wrote for Lost.  It's very "ABC" meaning kind of cheezy and overly romantic but for some reason I keep watching.  I guess you could tag this as "Guilty Pleasure."

Lastly, The Voice.  Personally, I think it's one of the better singing reality shows (ie American Idol or The X-Factor).  I actually like the cast of star coaches and their friendly back and forth banter and I think the premise of the show is the best by far -  initially choosing a singer solely for their voice.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : personalized photo stamps


There are third party sites (not directly through USPS) for making personalized photo stamps online that can really be used as valid postage.  USPS does have a page on their website that links you to several sites, here.  All three sites cost a little under $19 for a sheet of 20 stamps and there are lower price points per sheet the more you buy.  It's definitely not for the bride and groom on a budget but it's a unique idea.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

albert's baked salmon

It's day 2 of the salmon and it's time to cook it up the way my friend Albert is famous among our friends for making.  It's baked and then broiled with a teriyaki style marinade/glaze.

Albert's Baked Salmon (with my notes)
**This recipe falls under the category of "Asian style" I suppose.  As in we rarely strictly measure things and generally go by eye mostly so the measurements vary greatly on personal taste.

1 salmon fillet (It can be with or without skin.  I think with skin tastes better though)
garlic salt
black pepper
1/2–2 cups of soy sauce (Depending on how big your fillet is.  I'd imagine you could water it down a bit if you're worried about sodium)
3–5+ cloves of garlic, minced (I used an entire head of garlic because we like garlic)
Cane sugar (i.e. raw sugar but I think brown sugar or honey would work too.)
Sesame oil

To make the sauce:
1. Pour the soy sauce in a microwave safe bowl and add the minced garlic.  2. Add the cane sugar depending on how sweet you want to make it (I like it more on the sweet side and my fillet was quite small so I added about 5 Tb of sugar to 1 cup of soy sauce).  You basically want it to taste salty and sweet.  Microwave in intervals of 30 seconds to melt the sugar.  3. Add a dash of sesame oil to the sauce and give it a final taste.

To make the salmon:
1. Place the salmon in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for the really big fillets.  If it's too big for the dish then cut the fillet to fit.  Sprinkle garlic salt and black pepper on both sides of the fillet and gently rub into the fish.  2. Bake for 20 min at 400 degrees.  3. Take the fish out of the oven and pour sauce evenly onto the fillet.  There should be enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.  4. Set the oven to BROIL and place the salmon back inside the oven for 5-7 min depending on how the salmon looks.  You want it to be a little past golden-brown but not black.  5. Serve warm and spoon some of the sauce over each piece.  Add a lemon wedge on the side and top with diced scallions.

Monday, February 6, 2012

korean chirashi rice (hae dup bap)

Yes, there is rice underneath all this vegetation!

Dinner late last week was Korean chirashi style rice (Hae Dup Bap in Korean).  The difference is that Koreans add a lot of thinly sliced veggies and a sweet and spicy red chili paste that are to be mixed with the sashimi and rice.  

Usually Hae Dup Bap has lots of different kinds veggies and different kinds of sushi but mine was the poor man's version because of what we had (or didn't have) in the fridge.  We bought salmon the same night at Costco and brought it home to eat raw immediately and baked the next day.  The only veggies I had on hand were romaine lettuce, carrots, and scallions.  I have good memories of eating this dish in college at Korean markets all over Orange County.  :P
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