November 30, 2009

A Successful Holiday

We had a wonderful, outdoor picnic for Thanksgiving, and the meal turned out pretty delicious for my first! I went with the traditional meal plan from my earlier post.

The turkey was perfectly moist, the brussel sprouts toasty and tasty, and the stuffed mushrooms were awesome. The potatoes were kinda bland... but not bad.


November 23, 2009

Something to Be Thankful For... And A Thanksgiving Drinky Dessert to Celebrate!

I found out three days ago that I passed the California Bar Exam! That is only one of the many things I have to celebrate this Thanksgiving.

2009 has brought me a lot of experiences, good and bad. The good experiences are of the extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime type. The bad experiences are equally memorable, and are just as noteworthy in terms of marking my learning and growth.

I am thankful for all of these gifts, welcome and unwelcome alike. I know that I would not be where I am or who I am without them.

In the spirit of celebration, and Food Network’s Sandra Lee, I have decided to designate a cocktail (slash dessert) for our Thanksgiving celebration! And, since I am not a huge pumpkin pie fan (oh the shame…), I think I would rather drink my dessert!

The Pumpkin Pie

1 part Kahlua
1 part spiced pumpkin pie filling
2 parts Malibu rum
4 parts light vanilla ice cream
4 ice cubes
Garnish with cinnamon

Put everything but the cinnamon in a blender and mix on high. Serve in graham-cracker crust highball glass with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

November 14, 2009

Two Options for Turkey Day -- Reason to Celebrate TWO Thanksgivings!?

My mom, who is visiting for Thanksgiving, suggested we go out for Thanksgiving dinner...!! I immediately started mourning the loss of the leftovers just with the thought it.

So, despite the fact that I have no dining room table and there are only three (and a half, if you count the begger-dog) of us, I think I am going to make an executive decision and just make dinner! (sorry mom). So here are two recipe plans for our Thanksgiving "picnic"!

Herbal Traditional
Classic Stuffed Mushrooms
Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy
Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Garlic Red Potato Mash

Spicy Sweet
Red Curry Spice Rubbed Roasted Turkey
Cranberry, Apple, and Ginger Chutney
Smoked Chile Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans with Carmelized Onions & Almonds

I am hoping mom will bring some yummy yeast rolls from a bakery from my hometown to compliment either meal we end up with.

I think I will tackle pie (for the first time ever) next year, and buy one this year from a local cooking school & cafe, Generous Servings. They have mini-pies that look delicious, and that way we can have a variety to choose from!

Which Thanksgiving dinner sounds better to you?

November 11, 2009

Before & After: Real Wedding Inspiration Board & Details Recap!

Some of you may remember my first (and, eh hem, only) inspiration board for my wedding from a post back in May. Now that it's all said and done, I put together an inspiration board from the real wedding! I think it turned out better than I could have imagined!

[all photos are from my fab photog, New Vintage Photography]

A few of the ideas that you see in the inspiration board:

Ringbearer: Our terrier mut is such a huge part of our lives, it was probably no surprise to anyone that she was our ringbearer, or even that she wore a blue ringbearer dress (which, by the way, I had no part of! My sister bought it, I swear!). But, what was a surprise was how she made her entrance! When our officiant asked for the rings, "Who Let the Dogs Out" blasted on the speakers and around the corner came our perfect puppy (and our lovely junior bridesmaid escorting her).

Placecards: I printed placecards on standard business cards from Office Depot, adding a blue doily pattern from Martha Stewart's website. Then, I taped them to kabob skewers, and put them into an antique wheel barrow full of sod!

Centerpieces: My mom and I went crazy at the produce department, buying limes, peppers, Granny Smith apples, funky squashes, and eggplant, and clipped some clumps of grapes from the family vineyard.

Table numbers: I bought cloud shaped blue card stock from Papeterie, and then glued them to paper doilies from The Dollar Store. I wrote the numbers on the card stock with a white pen from Joanns.

Tablecloths: You all might remember the tablecloth dilemma from an earlier post, but we ended up going with a blue paisley from Joanns and my mom sewed them all! We want to make satchels out of the fabric to give to some of the people who helped make the wedding happen.

Signs: My sister-in-law is a pro at handpainting decorative signs, and she and I got together one summer afternoon to paint on some old barn wood from my parents-in-laws' house. We had signs for cocktails, guys & gals restrooms, the photo booth and parking!

Photo Booth: We had tons of fabric left over from the tablecloths, so we made a backdrop for a photo booth. My photographer brought an extra helper to be in charge of photobooth pictures, and chalkboards for people to write on. All the special notes and photos from the booth was probably the funnest part of getting our picture proofs after the wedding!

Cake: My aunt made the cake, with lemon curd and lemon icing (delish!), and piped the decoration on the outside to look like my dress. The cake toppers were ones that I found and fell in love with online.

Blue Shoes: I decided to go with the latest blue shoes trend, but had a really hard time finding the right blue before the wedding. So, I bought a pair of dyeables (gasp!) and had them dyed the color of my bridesmaids' dresses. I plan on dying them black or navy or maybe pewter now.

What fun it is already, only two months later, to reminisce about the most fabulous day ever!

Here's the old board...

November 7, 2009

Gray + Ruffled = Deliciousness

On a meandering lunch trip to TJ Maxx to stock up on tights, I found fabulous gray tights and (gasp!) these t-strap, gray, ruffled peep-toes by Tahari.

As a fan of all things feminine and frilly (except super floral perfume...), I am so happy with current girly fashion trends. For example, RUFFLES! Add a muted color, i.e. gray, and you have pieces that can go with oh-so-much.

Here are a few other gray ruffle-y items that I covet:

A dress all by itself or add a long sleeve T and some tights for a more cozy version...

Your basic cardigan with ruffley goodness...


A professional blazer...

Oh the outfits I could pair these with...

So sophisticated!

A little darker, a little warmer...

A tank for layering (not gray but still awesome)...

November 4, 2009

Green is the New Black: One Plastic Sandwich Bag At A Time...

Environmentally conscious living is, like, so totally in! Little efforts by individuals can compound to have a dramatic effect on saving natural resources and preventing waste. We really need to rethink our daily living if we want to affect change on a broader scale. In an effort to highlight how simple, daily choices we make can impact the environment, I decided to start this series, Green is the New Black, to post simple ideas where a little effort can go a long way!

Starting with: Plastic ziplocs! The excess of plastic in our waste stream is astounding. Even the most environmentally conscious among us cannot avoid it. Take, for example, this NRDC employee's collection of one week's worth of plastic:

So there are a lot of different ways to reduce our consumption of plastic, but what better place to start than plastic ziplocs.

One small change I decided to make was to clean and reuse plastic ziploc bags. While not using them at all would be better, for some things, they function much better than the more permanent alternatives. For example, I like to buy large quantities of food and sometimes cook large quantities, freezing the extra food or leftovers for later. Plastic bags work much better for space and maintaining the quality of the food in the freezer!

My husband calls me cheap, but I save more than money by reusing my plastic ziplocs! If you used five plastic baggies a week, say, for packing a lunch, that would be 260 plastic bags a year. If you use one bag a week instead, that is only 52, which is saving 208 plastic baggies a year! If you think about this on a broad scale, the waste and moolah saved on plastic ziplocs alone would add up to something significant! Plus, it just takes a few seconds while washing dishes to clean each bag.

After years of washing, rinsing, and hanging to dry baggies, I only recently discovered a new way of drying the baggies without having them strewn all over the kitchen... Little creative solutions can really make a difference :)

Ok, so maybe it's not that pretty... but it is much better than having them hanging on cups, utensils, and the kitchen sink faucet!

Happy ziploc washing!

November 1, 2009

Featured by Twigs & Honey!!

Twigs and Honey by Myra Callan supplied the perfect birdcage veil and silk flower fascinator to complete my wedding ensemble. You might remember from an earlier post, I wasn't into the traditional veil thing, but I still wanted to wear something in my hair that was "bridal"... the birdcage became my accessory of choice. I am so glad I decided to go for it after all!

Myra recently posted a blog featuring pictures of her handywork from our wedding! Twigs and Honey has quite the assortment of hair (and other) handmade accessories (belts, for example!) that would be awesome to add to the wardrobe... The kinds of accessories that you build outfits around :)

October 29, 2009

A Belated Post About My Wedding Dress

I didn't want to post anything about my wedding dress before the wedding, but got consumed with life after the wedding and am only just now getting to it!

I knew going into dress shopping that I have expensive taste and an eye for fancy details, but I did not have the budget for a designer dress. I went dress shopping long before I was ready to buy a dress at a place called Glamour Closet in San Francisco. The store had amazing designer gown samples that were a fraction of the price of buying them directly through the designer, and I found a few dresses that I thought were gorgeous!

One of Monique Lhullier's full lace ensembles:

"Alice" by Jenny Packham (great for a roaring twenties feel):

But, it was a little too soon (we hadn’t picked a venue yet…), the prices were still above my price range, and I just hadn’t tried enough on yet to be sure.

A few months later, after we had figured out we were going to do a backyard wedding in the country, I went shopping again. This time, we went to the Saks’ wedding department closeout sale. I tried on one that my mother-in-law thought was perfect for me…


And it was gorgeous! But strapless just wasn’t what I wanted. Either it would be so tight that I would be uncomfortable, or I would be jimmying it up all day and night… Neither sounded appealing to me. Also, it was seven times my budget! My mother-in-law has expensive taste like me!! :)

There was one dress that stuck with me from that day, Kristene by Claire Pettibone, but I wasn’t totally sure it was the one, so I walked away. And the sample seemed a little beat up. The very next day, I went with a close friend to a wedding dress boutique in Windsor (One White Dress, which has since closed) that carried samples of several designers I liked, including Claire Pettibone. I encountered Kristene again, in better shape than the one at Saks, and close to my budget (still over, but the dress was one of the few things I was willing to splurge on).

(I look terrified in this picture, and I actually was! Buying the dress was the most nerve-racking, scary thing I did throughout the whole wedding process! I was a total wreck for almost a week afterwards!)

The dress had an air of country and old fashioned that I loved, and the dangleys added a lighthearted swing that I could just see dancing on the dance floor!

Can you see the movement in the photo below?? :)

A detail shot by New Vintage Photography that I simply LOVE:

My dress turned out to be the perfect one for me, and it inspired a whole bunch of details at the wedding!

The cake (made and decorated by my talented aunt)…

The table decor (doilies in particular)…

(this was just a sample table we assembled before the big day)

And the table numbers...

I haven’t decided what to do with the dress now, though I have been toying with shortening it to knee length and saving the train. But, I am not sure a bridal cocktail dress will be that much more useful than a complete bridal gown… Suggestions anyone?

[the wedding pictures above are by Jen Howell with New Vintage Photography, the others are my own snapshots]

October 27, 2009

Looking Cute & Keeping Warm...

As our first Winter Storm Warning arrives in Denver, I was browsing several favorite retailers for fashionable and warm things. Girly is in and scarves are all the rage... Looks like I might be in luck!

Maybe not work appropriate, but I would probably live in this otherwise...

A slouchy colorful beanie keeps the head warm, but maybe messes with the 'do a little less than other hats.

A scarf with colors that go with practically everything (not like scarves have to match or anything...)

Plush eggplant gloves + ruffles = awesome!

Tights can add pizzazz, and warmth, but are softer and less restricting than hose!

Bring it, storm!

October 25, 2009

Mole for the Spice Novice

I discovered a great mole paste at the grocery store this week!

Dona Maria

Just dissolve the paste in water or broth, and you have delicious mole sauce for your choice of meat... without having to go to the restaurant, eating bottomless baskets of tortilla chips, and feeling feel like you're about to explode!

I made the mole verde sauce (basically made of pumpkin seeds, peppers, and spices) in the crockpot with four large skinless chicken breasts, shredded them up, and we had delicious tacos. The sauce was flavorful, unique, and just the right amount of spice. I can't wait to try the red mole now!

October 5, 2009

Emerging from the Chaos

It's been quite the whirlwind since my last blog entry (bar exam, loose ends of wedding planning, wedding, honeymoon, moving 1300 miles across the country, starting my first post-law school job...). But, as the title of my blog indicates, I did make it!

I didn't really believe people that blogged about how their wedding was the best day of their lives. Call me a cynic, but I just never really was that into weddings. So, I was beyond amazed at how wonderful the whole day was for me, and how many people came and cried and laughed and danced at our wedding. What a happy day it was! Of course there were little glitches, there always are. But it was a monumental day for the two of us, both because we fundamentally changed our identies and joined our lives, officially, forever, and because we shared it with so many of our friends and family. I am so glad I decided not to elope! :)

I am excited to share photos of all the wedding happenings here!

For now, the sneak peek from our fab photog, New Vintage Photography by Jen Howell!

July 22, 2009

It Takes A Village... and The Cake

We are so lucky to have so many family and friends chipping in to pull off our backyard affair... I don't think we could do it without them! From the backyard itself, to the DJ/emcee, officiant, decor, and bartender... This list goes on and on!!

Not only are we fortunate to have so much support, it is so amazing to see all the personal touches each of these contributions add to our Big Day! It just wouldn't be the same, or "us", if we fit the wedding industry mold!

One thing that we recently got squared away is our delicious cakes. My lovely and amazing cook Aunt offered to make the cake, and even though I have never been a cake person (I know, shame on me... but you can count on me doubling-up on the ice cream...), I loved the flavors that she put together for us! I suggested lemon, to go with the country, summer evening... and she ran with the idea. We will have vanilla cake with lemon curd layers and a lightly lemon-flavored icing! Yum!

Here's the original inspiration...

Things evolve, and our cake is no exception. Here's a sneak peek at my Aunt's version (which draws details from my dress... so cool!)

Add a few ivory roses, and there you go!

Instead of precarioiusly stacking layer upon layer, we decided to set cakes up on varying layers of pedestals. Plus, each pedestal is a glass vase, that we are going to fill with lemons (and any leftover roses). It's going to be so spectacular!

Sort of like this, only with cakes instead of candles...

Finally, I found a cake topper I couldn't resist! I mean, the bride has strawberry-blonde hair. And the groom is so helpful. It's totally US!

Don't you just love it when things start to come together? :)

July 20, 2009

Dying in Suspense of the Tablecloth Decision? I Will Save You!

You may recall an earlier fretting over what fabric we should use as tablecloths (more like squares to jazz up the white tablecloths), the worry over blue versus green, and my lamenting the loss of green as a wedding color.

Well, the decision, made by an interesting combination of timing, stress, the original one I chose being out of stock, and sheer frustration, actually has turned out to be a really solid choice that I am so happy with!

We went with a blue paisley that looks even better in person! It matches the bridesmaid dresses (and guys' ties) PERFECTLY! Plus, it incorporates a darker blue that will match the groom's navy suit quite well.

(excuse the iPhone picture... it's not the best representation of the colors in person...)

What happened to the green? Well, it has officially become an "accent" color ;) The favors are green, and oh so adorable...

Plus, the centerpieces will be made up of green produce, and I am hoping to add green ribbon and other green accents in other details as I come upon them (bouquets, the grass and general landscaping).

I always knew blue would be a dominant color, at least in the attire, because it's practically the only color the groom ever wears. But I will still squeeze some avocado in there wherever I can!