Golden Girl

Do you ever look at  those super-stylized home tours and think, her significant other had no say in any of that.  C is not that kind of guy; he would not be comfortable in a girly, style-me-pretty type of living room, and so our home will stay in neutral tones with lots of wood.

I’m perfectly happy with that, but sometimes a girl can still create a super-girly Pinterest board, right? I’ve been loving gold accents– I know I know, that’s so very original of me considering that it’s just abut all you’ll find if you look through Home Decor pins. Just the right about of gold makes a room look so elegant. The right amount is the operative phrase here. C put it best about my gold obsession when he pointed out that there’s a fine line between elegant and Shahs of Sunset tacky. Sometimes I need help finding that line, but I think that a home with any of this stuff would be on the right side of that line:

 

gold decorSo our home may never have these looks, at least until I create my own little girly escape. What do you think about gold– classy or tacky?

Three Fashion Books

Because an uncomfortably hot Saturday like today is best spent in the shade (or AC if you’re lucky) reading, I’ve got Catherine here to share some of her favorite fashion reads for a day like this:

Three fashion books

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Books are doors to other universes. They open different worlds and make us understand better unknown phenomena. If you want to be a doctor, you read medicine books; if you’re into the food chain and organisms, you read biology books; if you want to become high class New York fashion photographer, you read fashion books.  Fashion books inspire people and they challenge us to have a more reflective and complex opinion about this industry. Through history and art, they give us details and structures. It’s like they’re constantly opening new doors and removing curtains and masks. So let’s talk about some really cool fashion books, every true Fashionista has to know about.

1. Vogue: The Editor’s Eye. If the “September Issue” introduced us to the world of Anna Wintour, this book invites us into the hard-working world of eight legendary fashion editors of Vogue Magazine. Fascinating interviews and wonderful photographs with an introduction that’s well documented by the signature of Hamish Bowles, all gathered as a truly sumptuous book. The Editor’s Eye shows us that regardless of the role and the position of the fashion stylist, the editor’s personality and the photographer’s creativity remain the most important ingredients that guarantee the success of one shooting session.

2. Deluxe: how luxury lost its luster (by Dana Thomas) – a well documented and well organized book that has an incredible narrative style that discusses the history of marketing, franchising and licensing for the luxury brands. Dana Thomas, a former journalist for Newsweek and The Washington Post, discusses diverse topics such as: the Chinese counterfeit products and the perfume sales, the story behind the “curtain” of LMVH or the memories of Dior boutique shopping on Avenue Montaigne. An important chapter of the book is devoted to big fashion conglomerates (LMVH and Hermes) and the changes in the luxury industry in the ’90s.

3. Alexander McQueen: The Life And The Legacy (by Judith Watt). L’enfant terrible. Genius. Hooligan. Visionary. Alexander McQueen can be described in many ways in the many books that have been written about his legendary life. Judith Watt is an expert in the history of fashion, and here he talks more about McQueen’s collections, while presenting inspirational points, personal stories and unpublished material.

 

Friday Funnies

Alrighty folks, it’s Friday, and you know what that means…

Time for some funnies! I hope these make you giggle too:

batman

Me on payday:

bitch I know can't. hate you.

comic sans

cat profile pic cat touch lamp cheeseburger stabbing delorean dog with camera four star motel married katniss

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Worth the Splurge?

Ok, so I may spend more money than I ought to each month on subscription boxes. But I usually draw the line at the more expensive “special edition” boxes. Pop Sugar (which is usually my monthly fave) has a quarterly special edition box that goes for about a hundred bucks. That’s a bit much to gamble with, in my opinion, but for some reason I was convinced last month to splurge on a little treat. The box came this week, and this is what $100 got me:

popsugar fall must have box

Capsule Perfumes Byway Eau de Parfum - $38. Ok, so this perfume isn’t one I’d normally buy, but it isn’t bad. This site describes it as being inspired by “an unforgettable lap dance,” which I think is meant to mean that it smells sexy, but it does have a bit of stripper cheapness to it. Still, it isn’t bad, just more sweet than what I’d normally go for.

Make Silk Cream Lipstick in Radicchio.  $25.

This is one of those things that I love about subscription boxes– make up that I’d normally be too hesitant to buy, but once it’s in my possession I begin to like it. This is definitely more bold of a color than I’d go for, but I kind of like it. Now I just need to work up the moxie to rock this color.

Joie Knit Cap — $98

It’s pretty and the quality is nice, but I’d never pay close to a hundred bucks for a cap, especially since it doesn’t get cold enough in Orange County to need such head warmth. I actually tried using this cap as an excuse to plan a winter vacation to Italy. C just laughed. I’m still working on that though. The point is, it seems like a nice cap that I have no good reason to wear (just yet).

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser- $32

I like it. It reminds me a lot of my favorite gentle cleanser, Philsophy’s Purity. This has a nicer scent to it, and I like that the ingredients are all natural. I am not quite sure how it “brightens,” but it does clean nicely without leaving residue.

Sugarpova Chic Gummy Candy - $6

I’m the weirdo who doesn’t like candy, so yeah. I’ll give these away. They look cute though.

Marchessa Voyage for ShopStyle Scarf - $140

This scarf is bee-you-tee-full. Gorgeous even. It’s very lightweight, so I could even rock it during our warm and dry Autumn. The colors are even more stunning in person. Again, I probably wouldn’t drop 1$40 on a scarf, but this made the box totally worth it, and I am very excited to own this scarf.

So overall, was the $100 price tag on the box worth it? Sure. I would have liked some more fun “lifestyle” items, but save for the candy, these were all good items. The retail price for everything is $340, and while I wouldn’t pay the full amount for some of the items, I think they’re pretty nice.

What do you think? Would you pay $100 for a surprise box? Did I get my money’s worth?

(linking up with Treat Yo’self Thursday)

Oh, The Places I Won’t Go…

If someone offered me free airfare and accommodations, there aren’t many places in the world where I would not go, save for say Iraq or Syria. (If the political climate changed and they had several years of stability, yeah, I’d go.)

But when we’re talking my own money and my planning, there are a few places in the world where I have very little desire to visit. At the risk of offending some folks, I am going to get a little confessional here and list the places where I do not want to go:

India.

india-145954

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I know it’s supposed to be spiritual and mystical and beautiful, but it’s also very crowded, with different ideas of public sanitation and trash disposal than I am used to. I don’t do well with people invading my personal space, and so I would be very uncomfortable in major cities especially.

Norway/Finland, Scandinavia. It just sounds boring and cold. What is there to see here?

Korea.

korea

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I’ve heard it’s a beautiful country, but I just don’t know enough about the culture or history to enjoy what tourist spots they have to offer or know how to really enjoy it. I like some Korean food every once in a while, but not enough to make me want to go on any culinary adventure.

A cruise in the Bahamas or Caribbean. I hate cruises. They gross me out. I would go sailing in the Caribbean, but not on one of those huge commercial cruise ships, no way no how!

Honduras.

honduras

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No thanks, murder capital of the world. Plus, what is there to see and do there that isn’t in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, or Belize? I keep seeing travel deals to resorts there, and I couldn’t imagine lounging in a resort while the family of the service staff is terrified for their lives.

What about you, where do you have no desire to travel to?

While you’re at it, go link up with Kathy at Humpday Confessions. 

What My Books Mean to Me

Did you know that Monday was International Literacy Day? I didn’t either. But it sounds like a pretty legit day, especially given how important books have been, and still are, in my life.

bookshelf

One of my bookshelves. There are many more on our large shelves in the living room, but these are some of my favorites.

Back in ’08, I ended the lease on an apartment and moved in with  my boyfriend at the time so that we shared a room in our mutual friend’s condo. Given the lack of space, I had to put all of my books into boxes in a storage unit. This was no simple task, and I’m not talking a box or two of bestsellers; I had just finished my MA in English, and I had a lot of books. Books that I felt sad parting with, but figured it only had to be temporary, and besides, I was making a good move forward with my life and so it was worth it, right?

Well, no, it wasn’t right. That relationship was a mess, and when it finally crumpled to a heap of ashes, I found myself subletting a bedroom in a small apartment, still with no space for my books. I had almost forgotten about them by that time; it had been so long since I’d picked up one at random, flipped to the passages I had hastily underlined, and smiled as if the words were fond memories of my own. And they were, actually. Each book, passage, sentence, held a special memory in my heart, and the turmoil of the break up, the move, and the subsequent rebuilding had made me forget about many of those fonder memories.

Then 2012 came, and I found myself yet again moving in with a significant other. This time though, it felt right. He had large book shelves already filled with books, but he condensed some of his collection and dug out another bookcase so that there would be room for my books in our home.

I dug out all of those boxes from my storage unit, turned in my key, and made several trips home with my car weighed down by books. As I closed the trunk to my hatchback after filling it for the second trip, my lip started to tremble, and the next thing I knew I was crying. No, sobbing. I sobbed the entire 30 minute drive. I could not figure out why I was crying. Am I sad about something?  I asked myself. No. Anxiety? That usually does it? Nooo…? I couldn’t think of anything that I felt anxious about. I actually felt relieved. Content. Optimistic. They were tears of happiness, as though I were reuniting with an old friend and discovering some of those constant, unchanging truths. There was the relief in knowing I would never again have to lock away those volumes of words that had meant so much to me. There was comfort in knowing that the old me, the me who loved literature, had found her way back into my present life and no longer had to hide or be ashamed. I was bringing my books home.

I pulled into the driveway and wiped the tears from my eyes. C could still tell I had been crying, but I just shook my head, shrugged, and said I can’t explain it, but I’m just really happy to have my books.  I smiled and we went inside to figure out how exactly to begin sorting them.

(By the way, bibliophiles, how do you sort your books? Alphabetically? By genre? By color? Mine have this weird associative sorting that makes sense to me, but is really confusing. It’s mainly by time period and genre, but there are some inconsistencies because I feel like some authors need to be next to each other, and that’s how I know to find them. It’s like some sort of code, and it’s probably really annoying to anyone looking for a book.)

Cooking With a Sous Vide

I know today is Meatless Monday, but I really want to talk about how excited I am about our Sous Vide.

sous vide 2

Sous-what? Don’t worry, as of last week I had never heard of it either, and as C described what it does, I was really skeptical. I’m a fan of grilling up our meat or slow cooking it, but poaching it vacuum-sealed bags just doesn’t sound exciting. Where’s the art and fun in that?

But I’m sold on it, so let me back up and explain what a Sous Vide is and how it works.

Basically, it’s a contraption that cooks your meat in a temperature-controlled water bath. Why cook it that way? It cooks your meat more uniformly (so no more half dry, half under-cooked chicken breast), it retains the meat’s juices, it locks in the seasonings you marinade it with, and it doesn’t need any supervision, so you can cook your lamb, fish, chicken, or whatever while you’re at work.

sous vide

So I made some steaks to try it out; I had 2 cuts of filet mignon and a rib eye. To start, I filled the sous-vide with water and set it to 147 degrees (56.5 c) so that they would be medium-rare.

I seasoned up the steaks with just some run of the mill grill rub first. If you seasoned or marinated your meats and sealed them a day before, it’ll be even better.

sous vide 3

Now for the sealing. You need a vacuum sealer for this; you can’t use regular zip lock bags or anything like that. It’s very important that you get all of the air sucked out so that it cooks evenly. Like I said, you could do this ahead of time since the vacuum sealing will keep it fresh longer, so season up your meat and throw it in the freezer if you’d like.

sous vide 4 sous vide 5

Once the Sous Vide is at the right temperature, you put your steaks between the racks so that they are vertical, close the lid, and leave them be.

sous vide 6

The thickness of the meat and the type of meat determine the minimum length they need to cook. The amazing thing about that is that it does not affect how well done your meat is. Since we had 1″ steaks that we wanted to be medium rare, they needed a minimum of an hour, but could be left in for 4 and still be medium rare. Chicken takes a bit longer, so as you can imagine, throwing them in before you leave for work means that you can come home to perfectly seasoned, juicy chicken breasts waiting for you. Pretty neat, right?

With some meats, like our steaks, you’ll want to sear them to lock in flavor and caramelize the outer layer. With our steaks I just seared them for under a minute on each side in a very hot pan, but you could even use a kitchen torch.

sous vide 7

We topped our steaks with grilled onions and bleu cheese crumbles, and served them up with loads of asparagus and broccolini. My filet mignon was the juiciest, most tender filet I have had, and I eat my fair share of prime cuts of steak. What blew me away was how evenly it was cooked throughout:

sous vide 8

It takes some getting used to, but I’ve got to say going to Maestro’s or Ruth’s Chris is never going to be as exciting now that we bought our Sous Vide. I can’t wait to try out some lamb or sea bass– meats I have never been able to really cook well in my own kitchen.

But what about you, can you be convinced to poach your meats?

 

Friday Funnies: Football Edition

It’s baaaaccckk! Football season, that is! I, for one, am incredibly excited, even though I’m a Jets fan, and…yeah. (Is it fair to say that I am happy to see the Seahawks’ success under Pete Carroll? He’s a jerk to be sure, but this Trojans fan still feels a lot of pride to see him succeed.)

Anywho, let’s kick off this most wonderful time of the year with an NFL edition of Friday Funnies:

football funnies 2 football funnies 3 football funnies 4 football funnies 5 football funnies 6 football funnies 7 football funnies 8 football funnies 9 football funnies 10 football funnies 11 football funnies 12 football funnies 13 football funnies 14 football funnies 15 football funnies 16 football funnies 17 Have a great weekend! I hope your Fantasy team wins!

Linking up with Fan Friday

 

Low-Carb Zucchini Lasagna

As I mentioned Monday, I had a rather rude awakening by the scale recently, and as such it’s been time to make some better decisions. And the best decision that I made this week was making this zucchini lasagna.

zucchini lasagna collage

I can’t take credit for inventing this work of beauty, but I can take credit for making a delicious version that seriously rocked my world. Seriously. The best part was that after a very generous helping, I wasn’t clutching my stomach and moaning whhhyyyy? the way I normally do when I pig out on lasagna.

zucchini lasagna 5

You can play around with this recipe and use whatever type of sauce or fillings you like. Vegetarian? This would be great with tons of spinach. Hate mushrooms but love Ricotta? Ignore me and make it your way. The most important thing is that you have plenty of thinly sliced zucchini on hand and that you soak up the moisture by cooking it lightly at first.

zucchini lasagna

Sorry, I was too busy trying to shovel this into my mouth to make this shot look sexy.

The first thing you need is about 2 medium to large zucchini, thinly sliced. You really should use a mandolin slicer for this, and be careful not to nick your thumb like I did.

Zucchini has a lot of moisture to it, so lightly grill the slices in a grill pan or your bbq. You don’t need to cook them for long; just until they are a little more tender. You could pat them dry  and allow them to sit for a couple of hours sandwiched between paper towels, which is what I actually did, but it’s faster just to grill them.

Also, preheat your oven now to 375.

zucchini lasagna 2

Now for your sauce. Here’s what I use for mine:

  • 1 lb of the leanest ground turkey you can find.
  • 1/2 of a medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of sliced mushrooms (totally optional)
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil (dried can work)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper

First you brown your turkey, drain, and set aside on a plate. Then brown your onion, garlic, and mushrooms until tender, and return the ground beef to the mixture. This is where I season it up with salt & pepper, fennel, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Add your tomatoes, sprinkle in the basil, and let it boil for a few minutes. The zucchini is still going to water down the lasagna a little, so reducing the sauce until it’s good and thick definitely helps.

Now for layering. Here’s how I like mine:

First a layer of zucchini, sprinkled with shredded mozzarella.

zucchini lasagna 3

Then I layer on the sauce, and here’s where it gets crazy: I top the sauce with small spoonfuls of goat cheese. I hate to say this, but I don’t really like Ricotta cheese, and I especially don’t like most mixtures in lasagna, you know where it’s all thickened up with egg and Parmesan. I find that just a tiny bit of goat cheese adds more exciting flavor, and makes the lasagna less heavy.

zucchini lasagna 4

So after that, layer again with zucchini, cheese, sauce, goat cheese, and keep going if you have the room. Then top it all off with mozzarella for a nice gooey topping.

Cover it with foil, and bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 10 minutes more, and then let this bubbling pan of amazingness cool for a few minutes before tearing in to it.

zucchini lasagna 6

Honestly, I think I like this better than plain ol’ carby lasagna, and I love love love carbs (sad face). This is great for any gluten-free friends too!

 

Linking up with Treat Yo’self Thursday

In Just Three Years.

Three years ago today, C and I went on our first date.

machu picchu 18

We don’t have the kind of “story” that we’ll repeat to our grand kids over and over until they roll their eyes. It’s definitely not one worthy of even a full blog post. We met online, chatted through several emails, went out to an Italian restaurant, had some drinks, liked each other, and saw each other again…and again… and about a year later I moved in.

2013-08-09 10.01.13machu picchu mountain top selfie
kiss in lima Long beach discovery flight 7 2012-10-27 15.57.32

We don’t really celebrate today with any big fanfare or traditions, but it does make me smile to think about how three years ago today my life changed for the better, and all of the adventures we’ve had in just three short years.

mallorca sailing

2012-10-13 21.13.14 2013-10-06 00.15.02

We might not be the most romantic couple, but I like us just the way we are.

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