Thursday, March 21, 2013

you are my wild

For adorable, beautiful, and inspiring photos of kids check out, You Are My WildYou Are My Wild is a weekly portrait project that brings together 14 photographers to document how they see their children.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

unsolicited wedding advice wednesdays : cost plus world market

Man, when I was growing up Cost Plus World Market was not as cool as it is now. I always thought of it as a poor man's Pier 1 Imports but kind of dingier. It's definitely not the case now and I would have to say that if you're prop styling your wedding reception or shower this is definitely a place to stop by. Check out these goodies:

Row 1: 2-Tier Wire Basket (there are other finishes), 3-Tier Wire Stand (there are other finishes)
Row 6: Global Place Card Holders (set of 4), White Glass Cake Stands (multiple sizes)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

book review : breakfast for dinner

Full disclosure, I received a free copy of Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth's new book pushlished by Quirk Books, "Breakfast for Dinner" in order to do this review. You can purchase it here. Many, many thanks once again to Eric at Quirk Books for graciously sending me a copy. 

Lindsay Landis' name might sound familiar because last year I reviewed her other book, "The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook," here and here. Or you might know Lindsay from her wonderful website, Love & Olive Oil. This time Lindsay is co-author with her husband to bring us the wonderful world of breakfast for dinner. Personally, I love breakfast so this was right up my alley. Once again, the cookbook is filled with beautifully photographed and designed recipes that are sure to tempt your taste buds. Unfortunately, as I posted yesterday I am doing the Dukan Diet so I was pretty limited in terms of what recipes I could test for this review. However, I did find one that could easily be made Dukan-friendly (I'm in the Cruse Phase and today is my lean protein + veggie day).

I made Shakshuka, a Middle Eastern breakfast of poached eggs (my fav!) in tomato sauce (I never met a tomato sauce I didn't like). In order to make it Dukan-friendly I had to omit the feta and pita (noooooo!). To be honest, I also omitted the parsley but because I forgot to get it at the market.  :/ The recipe calls for mild peppers and suggests Anaheim but I couldn't find any so I used Poblano peppers which were still delicious. If you're never cooked with peppers before, fear not. The mild peppers truly are mild and even the JalapeƱo that the recipe calls for will mellow out as it is cooked. The recipe was easy to follow and turned out wonderfully. I love a runny egg! Today, I made breakfast for lunch and it just goes to show that breakfast is truly a meal to be enjoyed any time of the day.

Monday, March 4, 2013

dukan diet : month 1

I've been on the Dukan Diet for a month now and I wanted to wait before I posted about it because I wasn't sure if I would still be doing it after a month. The idea to go on the Dukan Diet started last year when I went to a new doctor after moving to IL for my yearly check up. She was a Chinese-American woman who was very friendly but direct. She told me I needed to lose weight. I knew I had gained quite a bit of weight during my first year of marriage and honestly I was embarrassed by the amount that I weighed. She was very forthcoming and told me about her own weight issues although I could hardly tell because she was a very normal weight now. She told me that she always had struggled with her weight because of her busy lifestyle, the type of food she gravitated towards, and her general propensity to be more buxom. Her story resonated with me because ever since I was 18 I had struggled with my weight. She told me that she had tried different diets like South Beach but long term results never stuck and she always rebounded back to her old weight and then some. In her experience the only diet that had worked for her was Dukan and she told me to think about trying it to. Fast forward to 2013, Mark and I decided we had had our fun eating and gaining weight during our first 1.5 years of marriage and we decided our resolution would be to lose weight. Since we both were finally serious about losing the newlywed weight I thought back to the Dukan Diet and the Monday after the Super Bowl we started.

The Dukan Diet is divided into 4 phases. Phase 1: "Attack" is a short period of time to jump start the body by eating lean protein only with 20 min of walk everyday. Phase 2: "Cruise" is alternating between lean protein only days and lean protein AND vegetable days with 30 min of walking everyday. This lasts until you reach your goal weight. Phase 3: "Consolidation" is to combat the rebound effect. Certain previously restricted foods are slowly reintroduced and this phase lasts for 5 days for every pound lost with 24 min of walking everyday. Phase 4: "Permanent Stabilization" is your new lifestyle. Everything is permissible but one day every week is devoted to only lean protein.

If you're thinking about trying Dukan I would definitely suggest reading the book. Some websites and blogs might give accurate information but they don't give you all the information. To me doing Dukan without reading the book would be like trying to bake a cake without a specific recipe.  If the diet fails without following the precise recipe how can you blame the diet for not working?

Things I can share from my own experience one month in with Dukan:
  • If you're a woman, your menstrual cycle will totally mess with you. Pre-menstrual and post-menstrual for me made my body totally wonky. I got really frustrated because of what the scale was telling me during this time but despair not, push forward. Unfortunately, pre-menstrual + post-menstural = nearly half of the month. This is why I started weighing myself weekly instead of daily.
  • If you think you'll just guesstimate 20-30 min of walking, don't. At first I would just walk extra long at the market but then I decided to time myself on a treadmill and the difference was huge. I hadn't been walking long enough and uninterrupted 30 min of walking was way different from walking and stopping in the market aisle.
  • If you're married or dating your experience will be more positive if your partner is in it with you. Conversely, if your partner is not then you'd better prepare yourself to battle temptation daily.
  • If you know yourself well enough to know that you don't like eating the same things for an extended period of time then do yourself a favor and buy the Dukan Diet Cookbook. Personally, I don't trust non-official recipes because some of the permitted ingredients seem iffy.
  • Calculate your "True Weight" on the Dukan website, here. This was uber helpful for me because it gave me affirmation for my goal and it gave me a timeline to work towards.
  • Honestly, for me the weight isn't melting off like some testimonials or even as the book said and I still struggle with cravings but I am seeing results and I will stay the course, one day at at a time.
My one month breakdown:
Week 1, pre-menstural: lost 4 pounds
Week 2, menstural: lost 6 pounds
Week 3, post-menstrual: gained back 4 pounds
Week 4: lost 3 pounds
Overall weight lost: 9 pounds and clothing has become more loose.

Friday, March 1, 2013

fountain pen

I love fountain pens. I have limited knowledge concerning them but with my recent purchase I have learned a lot about the world of fountain pens. I think I was first introduced to them by my father who has several consumer fountain pens. He only buys affordable pens but unless you have a lot of expendable income (which I do not) there is no reason to buy expensive fountain pens. I appreciate the tactile relationship between pen and writer. It's a relationship that needs to be nurtured otherwise your investment will go to ruin. As in, you'll ruin the pen and will need to buy a new one.

In the past I had only used pens that had modern disposable ink cartridges that need to be refilled with a syringe or replaced. My newest fountain pen, a Lamy Safari (Lamy is the brand and Safari is the model type), can be outfitted with a converter that is a self-contained refillable ink cartridge (see below). The converter has a red end that when twisted becomes a piston that can push out or pull in ink/water into the chamber. This is wonderful option and in my opinion is the only way to go. However, the converter must be purchased separately.  The converter makes cleaning and filling the cartridge a breeze. Oh, and this also means you need to buy a bottle of ink.  ;P

When I bought my Lamy Safari pen online it said that it was coming with a 1.5mm Calligraphy nib (the nib is the tip of the pen where the ink actually comes out). I wasn't sure what kind of line the calligraphy nib would produce. There are so many different styles of calligraphy, you know? Well, I can tell you now that I have received my pen that a "calligraphy or italic nib" is the kind of nib that is used to produce the Italic, Blackletter, Gothic, Roman, or Unical style calligraphy (think Renaissance or old style English taverns), see below.

The calligraphy nib for a fountain pen will not produce the flourished, flowy Copperplate style that is so popular now (think calligraphy used for weddings nowadays). I know, I should've made the connection between Italic nib and Italic calligraphy but my mind is slow.

For many fountain pens the nib is a part that can be removed and interchanged with different nibs to produce a different style line. This is a great feature for a pen and is the case with the Lamy Safari. My pen came with a 1.5mm Calligraphy nib (it doesn't always come with this nib) but I bought a Steel Extra-Fine (EF) nib separately for regular writing purposes. The Extra-Fine nib is great, it produces a line that resembles something between a normal .5mm–.7mm pen might give depending on how much pressure the nib is given. The 1.5mm Calligraphy nib is also great but a little on the thick side for me. The 1.1mm Calligraphy nib will probably be my next purchase in the future.

If you're interested in fountain pens the The Goulet Pen Company is a wonderful resource. I love this site! Their interactive "Nib Nook" is awesome for comparing different nibs and their site also has a wonderful "Swab Shop" to compare different inks.

Here are some other links that were helpful to me in this educational process:
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Review
Inks: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Fountain Pen Care & Maintenance
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