Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michelle my belle.

I was taking a break from studying and came across an article in the NY Times about the "First Marriage." It's a very interesting and honest article, thanks to Michelle Obama who is honest about how difficult a relationship can be.

She has a lot of interesting things to say, especially this:

“If my ups and downs, our ups and downs in our marriage can help young couples sort of realize that good marriages take work. . . .” Michelle Obama said a few minutes later in the interview. The image of a flawless relationship is “the last thing that we want to project,” she said. “It’s unfair to the institution of marriage, and it’s unfair for young people who are trying to build something, to project this perfection that doesn’t exist.”

I appreciate this very much. The boy and I are not perfect people and though we aren't married we intend to be, and sometimes through both our stubborn ways, hot heads and control freak status of the both of us, it's hard to see how these things truly work out. Especially when you're on the outside looking in on other people's seemingly perfect non tumultuous relationships. It would be impossible to accomplish a perfect relationship, even though there are a lot of messages out there that project this ideal, and I truly feel that because a lot of people expect perfection in their marriages it is precisely why they don't work out. I think people think it will always be rainbows, hearts and butterflies and it will all be easy street...and then life throws a curve ball.

I see it in girls my age all the time. They care about the wedding, the pretty pretty dress and flowers and all the attention, and then have a serious problem when a year later things aren't as pretty anymore. They completely forget through the illusions of the wedding industry that there is a marriage afterward. That's not to say I don't like weddings (duh).

It's nice to know that the Obamas are aware that they are an example for other relationships, yes not the only example but a big one, and that she can openly admit that yes, there are downs. They do have them, and every one will. But it doesn't mean it's the end. Now there's a reality check I think a lot of people need (sometimes even I do). These things take work, and in a society where a lot of people expect things to just be handed to them, it's nice to see someone admit that things won't always be perfect. But that doesn't mean that they wont work out.

Thanks Michelle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

French Apple Tart recipe

Okay so I promised the French apple tart recipe.
It's no secret to anyone who knows me that up until a few months ago I DID NOT cook. I completely refused to participate in anything mildly domestic for fear of falling into those pesky female roles. I wanted to grab my feminism by the balls, and say NO to the kitchen.

Both my parents are fantastic cooks, like everything from scratch cooks. And when my mom would try to teach me, I would sigh, roll my eyes and huff and puff til she let me go. I only ate cereal and toast and ice cream for like maybe the last 5 years. My mom used to always joke that I'm the vegetarian that refused to eat vegetables. So now I've grown up and got hungry for more than Lucky Charms, and since I lost my job, I have more time on my hands. As a scientist I realized that cooking is very scientific, and I like a challenge, so I'm attempting to cook.

I really like the Barefoot Contessa recipes, she makes things sound so fancy but to make them is so easy. This recipe is one of hers, I made it the other day for a birthday party and everyone loved it, as did I, and I am picky.

I'm making it again for a dinner party tomorrow night; along with Sole in a lemon butter sauce and a pear, endive, roquefort salad. I'll let you know how it all pans out.

This recipe looks so fancy once its done, but it is REALLY easy and for not much work at all tastes delicious. Those sneaky French.

For the pastry (you can buy one if you want instead but this is actually not hard at all):
-2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 1.5 sticks of cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup of ice water

Put the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor with a steel blade, pulse for a few seconds to combine all the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter is in small chunks about the size of a pea.
With the processor running continuously, add the ice water and run until the dough starts to come together. Once it has, knead it on a floured board until its one doughy mass and quickly put in the fridge wrapped in plastic to sit for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

For the apples:
- 4 granny smith apples
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/2 stick of cold unsalted butter, diced.
- 1/2 cup apricot jam

Peel and core, the apples, cut apple slices crosswise about a 1/4 inch thick slices. Throw them in a bowl with the 1/2 cup of sugar and lightly toss them until they are all completely covered in the sugar.

Roll the dough to be a rectangle of about 10 to 14 inches, place the dough on the cookie sheet.

Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the middle row until the pastry is completely covered with the apple slices. Dot the top of the apples with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (I actually found this to be a bit long for a pastry at 400, I actually took it out at about 36 minutes and it was done) until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples are starting to brown.

When the tart is done, heat the apricot jam on the stove (I did it in the microwave cause I'm lazy and I wanted to eat the damn thing) and brush the top of the pastry with the warm apricot jam until the top is glazed.

Remove from the cookie sheet with a metal spatula, allow to cool and serve at room temperature.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time out

I'm gonna be kind of crazy busy for the next two weeks preparing to take the GRE subject test for my PhD applications but don't forget me, and I'll post when I can (especially this awesome french apple tart recipe I made the other day, that is SO good).

In the meantime, I love this article from the Wall Street Journal.

This is dumb

Why is it that men get to dress like this for Halloween?

And Women get to dress like this?

Gives a whole new meaning to Don't ask Don't tell.

But I mean seriously people. COME ON!!

I was going to go as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and I'll be damned if I can't find a pair of ruby slippers that don't make me look like a street walker.

I'm boycotting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease

This is what I did for my weekend. Yes, two words: bounce house.

The benefits of having a 5 year old sister is you get to be a kid all over again. My two sisters and I jumped around in that thing for at least an hour (until all the other little kids got there, sigh...the big sisters had to share) but you can bet I was the first one in there. And I ran to get in it, yes ran. Sometimes it's just fun to get to play and act childish. I definitely do my fair share, and I don't care who sees. How was your weekend?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wild Things

I've been reading all of the reviews for "Where the Wild Things are," and so far its looking good. I'm planning on going to see it, I'm actually really looking forward to it, but in reality, I never really liked the book when I was a kid all that much. The entire story only has ten sentences (I know because I bought it for my little sisters 5th birthday as a gift yesterday) and in reality it wasn't that incredible.But for some reason, I still find the desire to go grasp on to a little bit of my history, a moment to take me back in time to elementary school and sitting on the floor during story time while Mrs. Kennedy read us all of these life changing tales (The Hungry Caterpillar, The Polar Express, The Giving Tree and all the other children books of genius out there). I want to go back to my childhood just for a bit, even if the story itself wasn't as moving as I'm feeling or hearing the movie might be for some.

But what is it really? What is it about this book in particular, this book about adventure and dreaming and make believe that has all of us twenty somethings rushing off to the theater to see ten sentences turned into 2 hours? Maybe its the sad fact that nowadays kids live in a world where those things are fleeting, and we want to hold on to all the beautiful memories of our childhoods, where even mine, which wasn't too long ago, was much more innocent than now. I honestly don't know, but I do know I'll be sitting right next to them wondering what the magic is all about the entire time.

Anyone seen the movie or plan to see it, thoughts?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Off galavanting

In my hometown of Carmel for a long weekend. Hope you all have a wonderful relaxing few days off.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NAPA day trip 101

So, I was hoping that we would do Napa on a budget. Well we didn't. But we didn't do too bad! I'm gonna be honest here, we had more fun than we worried about the budget. Plus I got in trouble at the deli at V. Sattui winery, which I will get on about in a hot second.

I planned the entire day literally hour by hour, because I knew we would get distracted and waste the day if we didn't have a set schedule. But even then, good road trips always go a little off track or they wouldn't be road trips at all.

Napa is on a scenic highway that does a loop through the Napa Valley, this is helpful in planning a trip because you can do the entire valley in one day if you plan it right. We drove through Napa, up the scenic 29 through St. Helena, Rutherford, and Calistoga and then looped around onto the Silverado Trail to go back down because it's faster, there are no traffic lights; and I actually thought it was prettier. So now, on to the fun stuff.

We started the day off at the Napa Valley Outlets, And it was fabulous. They have a Barney's outlet. My take on the whole thing, was that it was outlet shopping, so we were saving right?! That's how it works for me. The boy had fun too; he bought more than I did.

After the hard work of shopping, we were hungry. Of all the recommendations of things to do in the valley, I heard that having a picnic at V. Sattui winery should be on the top of the list. They have a deli there, where you can buy gourmet foods (delicious sandwiches, cheese, olives, chocolate etc. and wine) and then sit on their grounds and have lunch.

Let me say this, V. Sattui's deli is AMAZING (it made Dean and Deluca across the street look like a joke). It was so fantastic I almost barfed. We bought so much food, got salami and homemade mustard as gifts and ate to our hearts content.

They have the most incredible cheese selection I have ever seen; and this is where I get in trouble. I have a weird love affair with cheese, I can't get enough. I bought 6 different kinds from 6 different countries, all cheeses I had never tried, nor heard of. And so far they're delicious. People, you need to go here, period. No discussions. It's worth it, just keep an eye on your spending, it can get expensive if you're a foodie, like me.

On to downtown St. Helena, where we walked around and looked in all the little shops. It's a really charming town, and a good time to spend walking off lunch. We got chocolates at Woodhouse, which was according to reccomendations, the Tiffany's of chocolate. If they mean overly priced for nothing that spectacular then they were right, but chocolate is chocolate. St. Helena, is a lovely town, and you drive right through the downtown on the 29.

Ok, if you want to go on a winery tour, MAKE RESERVATIONS. I don't care if they don't say anything about making reservations online, do it anyway. This was my mistake and both the tours I had planned were killed, due to my poor knowledge of the winery industry. Most places charge for tours, but Frogs Leap, which is an organically grown, family owned winery will give you free tours, if you MAKE RESERVATIONS.

So instead we went wine tasting down the street which was just as nice.

Afterward we went to Mumm Napa, the champagne company, where we were going to have another tour on how they make champagne (free tour, btw, not very common) but we missed the last tour by 30 min. so we sat out on the patio overlooking their vineyards and had a glass of champagne. This was the highlight for me. The view was incredible, the weather was perfect, the champagne was delicious and it was very relaxing. Nice people, and romantic. Totally reccomend this if you're going to do anything in Napa.

We had spare time so we drove to Castello di Amorosa. Literally a castle (apparently been featured on the travel channel) modeled after the castles in Italy. A wine castle?! They had just closed so we still got to wander around and look in the gift shop. We wish we'd come here earlier so we could see the whole thing. It was pretty epic. I heard they have an actual dungeon.

Went to dinner at Rutherford Grill, which according to the locals we told about it, all said we'd made a good choice. Here again, MAKE RESERVATIONS, and do it way in advance, they only do limited reservations and the rest walk in. We were too tired to go looking around for anywhere else, though there are fantastic restaurants all over the valley. We decided to commit, and even though I tried and failed to make reservations the day before, our wait was 2 hours. But we went on a walk, got a glass of wine and an appetizer outside, and soaked up the scenery.

All in all, it was a gorgeous day, and great memories. Napa makes a great day trip if you're in the area, if not, come down anyway it's a great place to visit.

Have a lovely day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Say What?!

Since when did Christina Aguilera start looking more and more like Donatella Versace?

Cute dress though.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shortbread is gooooood.

Hi everybody, hope you all had a great weekend. Napa was fantastic, and I will put a post up about it as soon as I get the pictures uploaded. I have a lot of tips and recommendations of places to visit. It was gorgeous and the weather was PERFECT! But until I get all of that together, I wanted to post this shortbread recipe.

My family is British, and Scottish, so shortbread is right up there in our heritage. Our veins are full of tea, I grew up drinking it with my mom (she likes mum better) and we always had a good cuppa after dinner. This shortbread is great for that and it makes a good gift for someone as well, which is what I did with this batch. Though, I have to admit, we kept some for ourselves. The recipe is super easy, it pretty much doesn't get easier than this, and it tastes fantastic.

All it calls for is:

1 lb. of butter (yep, that's right, 4 sticks) I didn't say it was low calorie.
4 cups of flour
1 cup of white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 275, Combine all ingredients, and knead it all by hand until well incorporated. It'll be sticky.
Place in an 8x8 inch pan, prick dough several times with a fork and bake one hour or until the top is golden brown. Let cool. Cut into squares. And thats it!!

I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to give it a little extra flavor. And because there is sooooo much butter in it, I gave away a bunch as gifts to people just to spread the wealth so I wasnt sitting around eating it all day, and then realize later I just ate a pound of butter. A whole pound!

But believe me, this is worth it, its delicious, and people will love it. I even had my boyfriends dad come over asking for some cause he heard from his daughter that it was so good. He actually walked in looking for it! And it's so easy. You probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now! So go bake, and then have a piece with a nice cuppa tea. Happy baking!

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend.

Friday, October 9, 2009

When you're tired you take a Napa, you don't move to Napa

Going to Napa and St. Helena for the weekend. Should be fun. Gonna attempt to do this business on a budget, we'll see how that works.

Napa is notoriously expensive, and I'm gonna try to come out the other side victorious, with money still in my wallet. This is particularly important seeing as one of us just lost their job in biotech (mainly that would be me); but that's not gonna stop me from going out and having a good time and playing with our fancy camera (well mainly that would be his).

I'm not the kind to stay holed up inside and watch tv all day, I'd lose my sh*t. So here's to wine, picnics, and more wine on the cheap, hope I can do it. Any suggestions? I'm sure I'll come back with some good tips. Have a great weekend, have any fun plans?

Photo by Lightchaser via Flickr

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Go look at these pictures from Chennergy Weddings blog, the emotions in these shots are so deep some of them actually made me cry. And I'm not really into the schmaltz people. This is big.

Dearest Sarah and Dan from Chennergy Weddings, you people are good. Real good.

Photo by Eric Mack via flickr

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shut it down

Is anyone completely LOVING the 70's vibe coming out of the collections as of late? Cause I am.

These pants are sooo freakin cute, with the pattern and the shape? And the shoes! Oh the shoes. Patterned sparrow platforms. Three words that work together very well.

The top three photos were from Miu Miu spring 2010, and I can't get enough of the patterns and those fab platforms.

The hair and makeup from Louis Vuitton was pretty epic.

Valention Spring 2010, was 70's glam to the max.

Alexander McQueen had some pretty killer dresses, and the shoes were INSANE.

Can you even imagine what it would be like to walk anywhere in these beasts, much less down a runway with everyone watching you?! That s*** is bananas my friends.

Have a great day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I LOVE Vintage!

It's no secret to all the people in my life that shopping for Vintage, clothing, furniture, accessories is maybe one of my all time favorite things to do in the entire world. I absolutely cannot get enough. For me the quality and the details in all things vintage far outweigh the products being made nowadays.

I love buying items from a time when the way you looked when you walked out the door really mattered. It was about presentation and looking put together. Not to mention the romance of wearing something that carries a history bigger than you; and, most of which if you really look you can get for a STEAL of a price!

Shopping Vintage can be CHEAP! And who wouldn't want quality and a bargain all in one?! YES!!

So I wanted to put in some tips of how I have found some of my greatest pieces, all of which include a 1960's mink fur swing coat I got this weekend for $40 (woo hoo)

1) I have a few places that I frequent to find things, but some of the best finds I have ever had were at estate sales or yard sales. People just want to get rid of their crap, sometimes not knowing or caring what they are getting rid of; and, if you know the right towns and the right places to look you can find some great things on the cheap. It's true, I once got a light blue Christian Dior silk gown at a garage sale for $5, and it was in PERFECT condition. I still have it to this day, it was such a killer find, I can't part with it.

2) Consignment stores are my best friend. If you're in the mood to dig around, there can be a whole lot of treasures buried in the racks. If you're thinking about your typical dusty old lady consignment shop, you really need to get with it. Now there are a lot of younger hip women who like me, want great vintage finds but don't want smelly musty old granny pieces rather clothes that will always make a statement about timeless style. And guess what? They're opening their own shops! Believe me, these contemporary consignment stores are out there, you just have to be willing to look! Think of it as an adventure. It's treasure hunting!

3) Have an open mind! Go into these places without any plans or ideas of what you are looking for and you might be surprised at what you end up with. Vintage tends to run small, so you might need to try on things that don't fit perfectly, but that's what a tailor is for! Sometimes there are stains or tears or a hem is coming undone, but getting something taken in, or re hemmed can cost you $10, and if you buy a dress for $10, it was still only a $20 dress! It may not be perfect right away, but if you work with it a little bit, can it be perfect for you later? And the best part is, it'll be one of a kind!

4) That being said, try not to be too emotional when shopping for vintage clothes. Sometimes, things just don't fit, or there's irreparable damage. Don't fight with it, you just have to leave it. I have made the mistake of falling in love with things that were WAY too small but I convinced myself that if I just didn't breath or never sat down things would be fine. And believe me, that leads to some seriously embarrassing moments (like me splitting some 1950's velvet cigarette pants right down my butt crack). There have been a few times I have left a store not buying anything cause I was too pissed off that that perfect pink dress or perfect pair of pants I loved so much just didn't fit. Just let it go and move on.

5) Nowadays stores are trying to make their stuff look vintage anyway. Sometimes you can walk into a store like Forever 21 and get some cheapy costume jewlery that looks the same as some of that really expensive costume stuff. And, if its that cheap, when it falls apart you can go get some new things anyway and won't feel so bad about it. If you mix in the new pieces in with the old no one will notice. I promise.

6) Don't forget to mix and match things. You don't want to look like you just came back from the 50's or 60's. You still want to look modern. Wear a vintage piece mixed in with your everyday clothes. Like a vintage sequin top, with a blazer, jeans and some cute ballet flats. One good vintage conversation piece can pull an entire outfit together!

Its the details like the polka dots on this velvet cocktail hat that really make the difference or the ruffles on the button down top.

2 of my favorite clutches, I take one with me when I'm just wearing jeans and a tshirt to snazz it up a bit!It's the details! Love this 60's overnight bag ($18), that I use as a carry on. Or the braiding on this brown leather bag ($13) I found over the weekend.

Happy Hunting!

Where do you get your great finds from?