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Archive for November, 2011

The Emma

Over Thanksgiving break, I met up with some of my oldest girl friends (I’ve known some since I was 3 years old!) to catch up before our high school reunion. My dear friend made a seriously delicious drink that I will call The Emma, although a more appropriate name might be sitting-in-a-rocking-chair-on-a-wrap-around-front-porch-listening-to-bluegrass, because that’s what it feels like.

Over ice she put a bit of bourbon, a generous splash of Limonata, and some seltzer to top it off.  It was delish and just how I like my drinks: refreshing yet hearty (listen, some situations merit a dose of liquid courage…) and not too sweet.  I imagine adding a sprig of mint would have been great for the color and aroma.  Thanks for the drink, girlie!

What is your favorite way to use bourbon?

~a

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The Bubble Umbrella

Today it is about 60 degrees out and rainy. Obviously DC didn’t get the memo that it is nearly CHRISTMAS and not mid-April.

While a rainy workday is almost never fun, the part that really kills me when it rains is the walking around the city. City sidewalks are overcrowded and frustrating to navigate on their own, but add on 2 – 3 feet of circular fabric with pointy sticks on top of everyone’s heads and it becomes downright impossible. I am constantly walking into people and trees (which means knocking into soaked leaves and getting even more wet) and trying not to get clipped by someone else’s spokes.

Then I found the solution: The Bubble Umbrella

Well to be perfectly honest, my coworker enlightened me to the many wonders a bubble umbrella can provide.

  • It is clear (you can see that tree branch, dog leash, gaggle of teens etc ahead of you)
  • The sides come down so that when it rains sideways your hair stays dry
  • The sloped sides also prevent you from stabbing unsuspecting strangers with your umbrella spokes

I got mine from Target, but they are pretty widely available. Hey, if it’s good enough for Gossip Girl, it’s good enough for me!

*DC in the rain image from news.bbc.co.uk

** Leighton Meester image from stealtheirstyle.co.uk

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You stank!

Last week when I was making frijoles*, concocted from my own mind/what I had on hand, I paused before putting in the garlic.  You see, I suffer from a rare disorder called stanky garlic hands.  I’m just going to put it out there: whenever I touch garlic, my hands stink so bad for at least 4 days.  It makes for a supremely uncomfortable situation when someone asks me to chop the garlic or suggests that we get the garlic parmesan pita chips.”  And staying away from cooking with garlic is simply not an option, especially not when you’ve got a serious case of frijoles on the brain.

Since realizing this stanky problem, I’ve found a few friends along the way:

These frozen cubes of chopped garlic from Trader Joe’s are a life-saver.  Just pop a cube or two out (like Dentyne Ice) and it melts in the sauté pan.  One cube = 1 tsp of chopped garlic.

This tube of chopped garlic also works well, especially if you need more than one teaspoon.  I also have a tube like this of ginger, and the combination makes Asian Stir-fries super easy and flavorful.

And, if all else fails and I have to mince a real, live clove, I have this little guy to remedy the situation afterwards.  Simply rub your hands all over it, as if it were a bar of soap.  The stainless steel actually takes the stink out of your hands!  (well, that plus some citrusy hand cream and ujjayi breathing [kidding…sorta])

 

~a

 

*recipe coming soon

Sources: mydorot.com; gourmetgarden.com; amazon.com

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The Best Part of Wakin’ Up….

Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. Snooze. Alarm.Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine. Uhg. Up.
This is how my morning begins every single day. It used to be that my trick for getting my feet to finally touch the floor was the promise of a pumpkin spice coffee or a reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich from Starbucks, but this “get out of bed trick” was costing me nearly at least $25 a week. Not cool.
So I started brewing my own coffee every morning. After many trials I finally settled on my absolute favorite every day coffee:
This coffee is delicious on its own (especially with my new favorite coconut milk creamer), but this fall I saw this Trader Joes Pumpkin Spice coffee and couldn’t help but buy it. From then on I started mixing in 1/3 pumpkin coffee and 2/3 regular. It rocked.
But somehow the Pumpkin Spice latte kept sneaking its way into my life. Driving into work with my favorite coworker suddenly became a Pumpkin Spice Latte morning. Sunday walks with my sister = Pumpkin Spice. Frustrating Tuesday afternoon = Pumpkin Spice.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes were winning.
So I decided to take a crack at making my own Pumpkin Spice syrup from scratch. After researching a few I settled on the recipe below, adding in a bit more of each spice (because I like my syrup to have a bite to it) and it came out perfectly. So perfectly in fact that the fiancé sent me this text “I was going to be super annoyed at the fact that you made a syrup we’ll never use and didn’t finish your dishes. But then I put it in my coffee and it is really good. Soooo never mind.”
This batch will last you a month or so and it is 100% worth it. I promise your mornings will be just a little bit better and sometimes, that makes all the difference in the day.
~ c
PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP
1/3 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep syrup from burning.
Let mixture cook together until it becomes syrup-y and begins to coat the spoon (for about 10-15 minutes), then remove from heat.
Can keep refrigerated for up to a month.

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1.  Last night I made these to bribe some folks at work this morning.  (It worked.)

2.  I took these photos with my phone.  I kid you not!  I recently purchased this app called Camera+ for $2.99 (because I clearly don’t have enough photography apps on my phone) and, holy smokes, the photos are good.  My Nikon D3100 will always have my heart, but for times when I can’t bring my love around with me, Camera+ will be an awesome alternative.  I can’t wait to play around with it!

3. For the record, it appears that my monochromatic eating preference continues.  Uh oh…

~a

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I always find it difficult to plan my outfit for Thanksgiving. You want to look nice and cute, but you know that no matter what you do you’ll end up in sweats (or with your pants completely unbuttoned) sprawled across your couch staring down that last piece of pumpkin pie that you know you can eat if you really try hard enough.

To avoid looking like the turkey-shoveling-gravy-guzzling-pie-face-stuffing maniac you really are, here are some  ideas of cozy fall outfits that will allow for quite a bit of belly bloat!

(Everything below is under $200. The outfit on the right is a bit cheaper and more casual. You can click on the header to find the Polyvore.)

The Forgiving Sweater Dress

The Pleated Skirt

Secretly Stretchy Pants

And for the super casual dinners you can always wear The “These are not sweatpants” Sweatpants

Happy Shopping!

~ c

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Thank ya very much.


I have a deep reverence for a real, hard copy, let-me-find-a-letter-opener piece of mail.  Whether it is the nature of my job or my mother’s insistence on writing Thank You Notes after a birthday, I really put a lot of stock into handwritten cards.  I make it a point to have available stationary within reach to reduce the chance that my messages get lost in the “well I was gonna…” trap.  I thought I would share some of my artillery with you.


I am slowly building a nice collection of rubber stamps and colored inkpads.  It is important that you have a nice variety of seasonal, pretty, and useful stamps.  Last year, the snowman was perfect for stamping on the tags I strung on the mason jars of homemade vanilla sugar I gave to friends.  The snowflake is actually a flower in the summer and spring.  And in a pinch, I can slam the “Thank You” on the middle of a blank card and have a uniquely minimalist look.

I recently invested in these quirky letters.  They are so fun but you have to be careful not to smudge the drying ink with your hands as you stamp the n.e.x.t. l.e.t.t.e.r.

Nice pens are another key to a good card.  Take your time and try out the testers before buying so that you get a pen that works with your writing.  I know for me, goopy pens just won’t cut it for my half-cursive. Le Pen is my favorite brand.

The packs of blank cards and envelopes are very cheap at The Paper Source, so I try to keep a variety of colors to mix and match.  But I also collect stationary and cards that real designers created for occasions where rustic/quirky isn’t quite appropriate.   Plus there are so many beautiful designs out there that sometimes I can’t resist a splurge!

I hope I just sent your mind reeling with sudden jolt of crafty energy, which is what happens to me whenever I look at my budding collection.  But the important thing to remember is that your collection is an evolving animal—it is easy to go crazy and spend $100 dollars on supplies before you even write one note, so my suggestion is to start small and augment once you have a sense of what you need and what draws your attention.   Trust me, one can easily rack up a $100 bill in one trip to Paper Source, but a well-built empire is extremely satisfying.

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