Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31

I have a big family.  Not absurdly big or anything, but with my Dad being one of four and my mom one of three and everyone married with children and then with all the in-law families married with children, it can seem a bit large to outsiders.  Probably because we're all so close as well.

I love it.  I love it when we all get together.  We have some amazing cooks and bakers in the family so there's never a shortage of delicious food.  And with my Dad and Uncle's, I'm never short on laughs.

The best holiday's were the one where Cousin Brian was there. Yes, that's his name.  Cousin. Brian. That's what I called him - and still do :)
See, when he was about 8 or 9 years old he moved across the country to Pennslyvania to live with his Dad.  We're exactly 1 year and 2 days apart in age, so for the first 9 years of my life he was at just about every family gathering and my very best friend growing up.  My older brother wanted to do boy things like play outside and ride skateboards.  But Cousin Brian liked what I liked.  He wanted to dance around the room to La Bamba with me and play My Little Pony.  

I hated when he moved.  Every holiday I ask if Cousin Brian would be there.  He didn't really like to fly alone, so most holiday's he stayed out there.  But I was so excited for the one's he did come to. Those were the best ones.
September 2010 - At his wedding

Happy Birthday to my most Favorite Cousin!  I love you so so much.  You really are one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.  The best days are always with you.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30

Today's my Dad's birthday.  I was born 11:55 at night, 5 minutes to his birthday.  
He said I was the perfect birthday gift. 

August 2009 
At my going away party - (i.e. moving to London)  
We celebrate everything :)

September 2010
 Dancing at my cousins wedding
(Apparently we like black and red)

Happy Birthday Dad.  I couldn't ask for a better Dad.  Thank you so much for raising me and loving me and always being here for me. I love you.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29

Today's my birthday

and my first day back to work from our mini-holiday in Chicago

What a fantastic city!  

Will post more about out trip later, but today's my birthday :)

Hope your day is wonderful!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On our way to Chicago

Today's my Friday.  Jealous? I would be too! :)

We leaving for Chicago tomorrow morning, and I couldn't be more excited!  


1.  We're going to the airport.  I LOVE the airport.  I'm not kidding.  I absolutely adore it.  How could     you not?!  You can go anywhere from there!

2.  We're going to Chicago, such a fantastic city!  We've both been before, but never together.  And I've only been for work, staying out by the airport and in hotel conference rooms all day. {yuck}  Danny's family is from there so he's only ever stayed outside the city with them.

3.  This is our first trip together with just us - no family, no friends, not even the pup :( {It's okay, we'll bring him a lil something}

4.  We'll be celebrating my birthday :)

I've actually been quite surprised how many people absolutely adore the city, not that its not fabulous, just that I've never had so many people agree on something.  But it was unanimous. We'd mention to someone that we were taking a mini vacation there and they would rave about it.  Happened every time. 

Everyone also had an opinion about where we just had to eat.  We arrive in Chicago tomorrow afternoon and we're leaving late Sunday evening, so that's roughly 4 days and 3 nights.  

According to the people we're talked to, these are the restaurants we need to go to:
  1. Pops - Champagne bar {we'll definitely be heading there!}
  2. Blackbird
  3. Carmine's on Rush Street
  4. Keefers Steakhouse
  5. Japonais {this was actually my own recommendation, I love this place}
  6. Prasino
  7. Giordano's pizza
  8. Lou Malnati's pizza
  9. Gino's East
  10. The Girl and the Goat
  11. Vertigo
  12. Xocu
  13. Table 52
  14. The Publican
  15. Le Colonial
  16. The Signature Room
  17. RL Cafe
  18. Cafe Baba Reeba
  19. Longman & Eagle
  20. Bistrot Margot
Not to mention, I searched the blog of one of my favorite Chicago bloggers and found this {post}. 

I am overwhelmed! And hungry! Every place sounds so amazing.  I'm really not sure how we're going to fit it all in, but we're gonna try!  I'll let you know how we do next week :)

Have a wonderful memorial day weekend!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lost iPhone

I had a really great weekend, that ended with losing my iPhone. Not so great.  Sunday evening I went to charge my phones (one for work, one personal) and realized I couldn't find my work phone.  Worse, I couldn't remember the last time I had it (at least that's probably good evidence of a good weekend!)

For the weekend, we had friends in town, the guys were playing in a golf tournament (which Dan ended up doing really really in - yay!), and the ladies were just hanging out relaxing and maybe a bit of pampering. :)  Sunday afternoon we got pedicures, at Palms Nail Spa. I specifically remember setting down my phone and thinking "I cannot forget my phone".  And I remembered getting up and taking it with me then.  The rest was a complete blank.  We went on with the rest of our day, tacos and margarita's, relaxing in the sun, etc.
OPI - An Affair in Red Square

But when I realized later that night that it was gone, I was a complete wreck. I tore apart the house, my car. Nada.  I could barely sleep.  The next morning I called around to everywhere we'd been.  When I called the nail salon, the woman couldn't have been nicer, she said "oh no, that's an expensive phone!"  She took my number and said she'd check with everyone there and call me back.  She called me back less than 5 minutes later and said "my sister's still sleeping, but I told her to call me as soon as she wakes up."  She was calling employees at home!  Too sweet, I was hopeful at this point.  A little while later, she called and said yes her sister had found it and put it away since it was "such an expensive phone!"

I went in after work and picked up my phone.  They were so sweet.  The woman said, "I'm glad we had it, it's such an expensive phone!"  I stayed and got an amazing manicure, $15 for 45 min!

OPI - Will You Mari Achi Me 
{it's hard to see, but this color is gorgeous in person, kinda nude and pink with just a bit of gold shimmer}

I had to post today, just to say thank you to the women at Palms Nail Spa in Windsor, CA, not just for finding my phone, but for the amazing pedicure and manicure, and being so friendly and  so so nice.  I will definitely be heading back!


Monday, May 21, 2012

It's Monday, get started already!

I needed this today.  Thought there might be a few other people out there who might too.

Happy Monday!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

40 years

Today is my parents 40th year wedding anniversary.

My parents were middle school sweethearts and got married before my mom was even allowed to drink.  (Hopefully they at least gave her a glass of champagne at her own wedding!)  They waited a while after getting married to have kids.  They had careers, they travelled, they had dogs.  Obviously, they spent a lot of time together.

A few years back, my mother and I were chatting, she mentioned something about how they weren't sure if they were ever going to have kids.  I was shocked.  I know I'm their daughter, but if you knew my parents, this would be shocking to you as well.

I told my aunt about it mainly because I just couldn't believe it.  She said the reason I was so shocked is because they are so good at being parents it's quite unbelievable to think that they wouldn't do it.  I think I was in my early twenties when these conversations happened.  And to my young college brain, my aunt's statement blew my mind.  I remember thinking to myself, 'she's so right, they are really great parents.  They're quite amazing parents actually.'  This was a profound moment in my life.

So, to my amazing parents, first off, thank you very much for deciding to have kids.  Second, thank you so much for being married for 40 years.  I know that the love you have for me and perhaps even more importantly, the love you have for each other has made me who I am today.

On a slightly different topic, today's is the 1 year anniversary of owning my own house!  Which just happens to be 6.6 miles away from my parents.


Friday, May 18, 2012

aka Crack Cookies

Salted Toffee and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dan renamed these crack cookies since they are so addicting.  It's probably not very PC, but it gets the point across.  Seriously.  You want to make these.  But only when you're having people over.  Otherwise you will sit in front of the television watching Grey's Anatomy from the beginning and finish off a plate.  I mean, if that's your thing.
 - 3 cups four
 - 1 tsp baking soda
 - 1/2 tsp baking powder
 - 1 tsp salt
 - 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
 - 3/4 cup granulated sugar
 - 1 cup light brown sugar
 - 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
 - 12 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
 - 1 cup toffee pieces
 - Fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Using electric mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add flour mixture a little bit at a time until incorporated and there are no dry streaks.  Stir in, by hand, chocolate and toffee pieces.

Drop the cookie dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  I like these kind of big, so I use a heaping tablespoon and kind of squish them together so their sort of round balls and then flatten the tops just a bit. You could use a cookie or ice cream scoop though.  Sprinkle each cookie with fleur de sel.  Bake about 15 minutes or until they're just a bit brown.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy the weekend! And the cookies!

{recipe via blueeyedbakers - Love them!}

**image via google

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On my bookshelf

My bookshelf happens to be the small telephone table next to my bed.  It's where I keep all my current reads.  There's usually a lot - what can I say, I'm only as committed as my options. :)

My Dad found the table in my uncle's basement when I was moving into my house.  It was the telephone table they had in their house when they were kids.   He cleaned it up a bit, sanded and re-stained parts of it, and got a piece of glass cut for the top.  It's perfect now with all its nicks and scratches and I love it.

There's always a stack of books or magazines on the shelf below.  Somehow I'm in the middle of five books right now.  Mostly because I kept getting new one's that I couldn't wait to start reading.

Currently reading:

1 - The Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan - this is the sequel to The Twentieth Wife, a serious must-read.  It's about the rise of one of India's most influential empresses and is such a fantastic story.  I must admit though the first book was by far better, which is probably why it's taking me so long to finish the second.

2 - The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz - I adore books about Paris, especially about Americans moving to Paris and how they find it, seeing and living in France for the first time.  David Lebovitz is an amazing pastry chef and sprinkled throughout the book are some of his yummy recipes.  I've dogeared most of them!  Food and Paris it doesn't get much better than that for me.

3 - The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo - Humorous life lessons and Coco Chanel's story, what an amazing woman.  Even if you're not into fashion, this is such a good book about a women who created the life she wanted.  Loving it!  Plus it takes place in France :)

4 - One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp - I kept seeing this book all over the place and finally decided it must mean I need to pick it up.  Inspired by Sarah Tucker's post {here}, I'm posting {here}.  I've just started this book but am absolutely loving it so far.  It is definitely different than I thought it was going to be.

5 - At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks (iBook) - Don't judge.  I'm a fan of Nicholas Sparks.  Some of his love stories are just so beautiful.  Plus I always have to have a book with me, and reading one on my iPhone makes that so much easier.  This one's probably not one of my favorites by him though.

I know it doesn't look like, but I'd love some recommendations!  What's good out there?


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Does anyone else remember the scene in Morning Glory, when Rachel McAdams was in the middle of an interview for her dream job and gets distracted by Harrison Ford on television making a frittata, and then runs out of the interview?
via google images

Was this a little bit random for anyone else?

Finally!  I've had it on my list to post the recipes I've blogged about, but so many more other fun things have come up.  This is the recipe for the frittatas I posted {here} and {here}.

After I saw Giada make a frittata, and realized how easy it was, I was hooked.  It's so much lighter than a quiche, no crust, not as much cheese or cream.  And I think it's way easier than an omelette, which always somehow turns into a scramble for me.  Plus there are endless options. I always use it as a great way to use up the veggie's I have just sitting in my fridge.  It doesn't really matter what you want to put in it.  Once you know how to make a frittata, you know how to make a frittata.    

6 large eggs
2 tbs half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbs olive oil
12 oz asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4" pieces
3 tranches prosciutto, diced (optional)
3 small tomatoes, seeded, diced
3 oz fontina cheese, grated

Preheat broiler.  Whisk eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper in bowl.  Set aside.

Heat oil in nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add asparagus and prosciutto and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato and saute everything about 3-4 minutes more.  Reduce heat to medium and pour egg mixture in.  Let cook for about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle cheese all around the frittata.  I like to then take a spatula and lightly push down the cheese until it's covered with egg, so it doesn't burn in the oven.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the eggs are almost set but the top is still a bit runny, about 5 more minutes.  Put on top rack of oven and cook until its no longer runny and golden brown on top, about 5-8 more minutes.  Let frittata cool about 2 minutes.  

Use a rubber spatula to loosen the frittata from the skillet.  You can either slide the frittata onto a plate or I usually just put a plate upside down on the skillet and flip it over, like pineapple upside cake.  As long as you make sure to loosen around and under the whole frittata it should come out easily. 

Here are a few of my other favourite combo's.  Just remember to add the veggie's in the order of how long it takes to cook them, adding the one with the longest cooking time first.

1 - Spinach, Mushroom, Feta

2 - Spinach, Bacon, Fontina

3 - Broccoli and Cheddar

Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis {here}.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Brunch

I had planned to take my mom out for brunch at Zazu, but then we found out my cousin was graduating from college that day.  At first I was a bit disappointed that we couldn't celebrate the way I had planned. (My mom and I love brunch, I mean, who doesn't!)  But then I thought, what a wonderful Mother's Day gift for my aunt - having her youngest graduate from college.  

Congratulations Kourtney!

So instead of going out for brunch I made us brunch for dinner.

On the menu:
Asparagus, Tomato, & Prosciutto Frittata
recipe {here}

Avocado, Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Reduction

Cinnamon Sugar Messy Bread
{recipe from}
Don't make this for people you don't really like.
Seriously, they will never leave you alone.  It's that good.

I hope all you moms had a wonderful Mother's Day.

**recipes coming soon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brunch at Zazu

I went here this weekend.
We sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine, with Pacino asleep under the table, feasting on southwestern eggs benedict with tabasco hollandaise and a dutch baby pancake served with fresh strawberries and lemon. Sparkling mimosas were in hand.  

It was a beautiful Sunday morning.

I may have also taken home one of these.

Yes that's bacon on top. :)  And maple icing.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Romper Love

I had to laugh at myself this morning.  I received an email with this in the title:

and got so excited.  When I opened it and saw the adorable beach photos of three-year old girls, I realized GAP was referring to children's clothes and not summer rompers for me. :(

So I had to go in search of my own.  I'm such a romper girl for summer.  It's so easy - great for throwing in a suitcase for a weekend getaway, a day at the beach or brunches in the sun.  My kinda summer!  




The 3-year GAP girls were pretty cute though too!

Happy Monday!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wine Tasting - Healdsburg

Work's been crazy - it always is the first week of the month.  But last weekend I managed to have a bit a fun and hosted friends for the weekend.  I always get a bit nervous having friends stay at my home.  It just feels so new still.  But good nervous, like butterflies in the stomach nervous, or when you're a kid and waiting for relatives to come over for a holiday.

I made snickerdoodle muffins {recipe here} and salted toffee chocolate chip cookies (recipe coming soon, I promise!).  It makes my house smell lovely and it always makes people smile to see a platter full of treats.

We spent Saturday wine tasting in the Healdsburg square (i.e. Alexander Valley - a bit northwest of Sonoma and Napa).  Sometimes it feels so luxurious living so close to the heart of Wine Country.

Dan and I end up spending a lot of weekends visiting different wineries and tasting rooms.  They're just so close and so gorgeous, plus Pacino gets to come too :)  We have some favorites in Healdsburg, but last weekend we discovered a few more that I just had to share.

Kendall Jackson - It's just up the street from my house, but the last time I was there was almost 10 years ago looking for a wedding site for my best friend.  The grounds are gorgeous.  They do food and wine pairing which is always fun and they have great outdoor seating in the back.

{this was the "before" shot}

Oakville Grocery - This is always our first stop for lunch.  No seriously, I brought Dan here once and it's the only place we can eat at now when we're in town.  Oh but it's so so good.

Topel - Directly across the street from Oakville is the Topel tasting room.  The guys here were so friendly and they even had treats for Pacino at the door.

Roadhouse Winery - Just on the other side of Oakville grocery - a small selection but definitely worth popping in.  Mostly pinot noir, plus a deliciously chocolatey dessert wine.  I'm not usually into the sweeter stuff, but just a few sips was perfect.

Vintage Wine Estates - This is always one of our stops when we're in the Healdsburg square.  They've got quite the family of labels so there's always something fun to try.  Fire Station Red was one that we discovered here and it's perfect with anything off the grill. A real mans wine if there is such a thing.  Paul is our favorite behind the bar.  It's so much about the people you meet too.

JCB - Now we didn't taste here, I'm only mentioning it because the space is pretty cool lookin'.  I've been here before and I hate to say this, but the taste is just a bit lacking, which was a huge disappoint since I'm such a fan of bubbles.  But if you happen to be walking by, definitely pop your head in at least for the design decor.

Toad Hollow - Paul from Vintage Wine Estates suggested we go here and I am so so glad he did.  We had such a great time and Ben left as a wine club member and with a case of wine, claiming we'd have it drunk by the end of the night. (That didn't happen.)   It's just off the square - less than a 5 min walk.  Just past the delicious restaurant Willi's Seafood.  Go there too :)

Williamson - Loved it here!  That's Jason in the back in the photo.  He's the owners son and was so great in putting up with our shenanigans.  He did wine and food pairing for us and we bought this delicious tasting beet horseradish mustard - sounds weird, I know.  But it's delicious!

Spoonbar - We were on our way to the car and passed by this bar / restaurant and had to stop.  It's part of the h2hotel and has this  fantastic indoor/outdoor seating.  We're will definitely going back soon to check out the eats!

Cutest couple shots:

I think B & P win :)


Disclaimer - this is a fairly aggressive wine tasting day, we shared flights and not everyone tasted at every place  :)

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