Monday, February 28, 2011

Cranberry Orange Scones


Mmmm. I do love scones. Some people think they are too dry, but I think that makes the perfect complement to a nice cup of coffee. They make such a good breakfast pair. I've never attempted to make my beloved scones before, but trusted Ina Garten to hold my hand through the process with her recipe here. They turned out pretty nicely. On the next go around, I might try to pump up the orange flavor because it was pretty undetectable. I should also be more patient when applying the glaze at the end and wait for the scones to cool. And lastly, mine ended up a little brown on the bottom, so I may heed Ina's advice and line my cookie sheet with parchment paper.

(Mildly related) I recognize that scones should be treats and not consumed everyday. Since I can only pawn so many off on Kurt and my roommates, I decided to half the recipe but ended up with all these funky measurements. How much is 3/8 of a cup?! Luckily, there is an app for that :) A free unit converting app was just what I needed. I am growing fond of my little iPhone and finding new uses for it a lot, especially while I am cooking. I won't say I have completely drank the kool-aid yet, but getting close (apparently I drank the Wikipedia kool-aid a long time ago).

(Less related) Don't you love my cute Crate and Barrel plate? I think I want to add this one to my collection next.

Academy Awards

{Mila Kunis via InStyle}

I rarely watch many awards shows because they always seem cheesy and I usually haven't seen the movies/tv shows/songs up for awards. However, I attended my friend Christine's annual Oscar party this year with a bunch of her girlfriends. It was so much fun and the show was ten times better than I expected. We laughed, had some good food and wine, and gushed about how great everyone looked. It was refreshing to be in such a positive atmosphere. Inversely, the moment I walked in the door to work this morning, my two coworkers were bashing every single dress and actress wearing it. It was so catty and put me in a foul mood for a while. Life is hard enough. Keep your negative judgments to yourself (don't I sound like such a kindergarten teacher?).

My favorite dress from the night was Mila Kunis' lilac Elie Saab gown. Maybe I just loved her in Black Swan but I thought she looked amazing. Take that bitchy coworkers :)

BAM happy hour


After work on Friday, Jenn and I decided to visit the happy hour at BAM. (Having drinks in a cultural setting makes it a cultural experience, right?) They have drink and food specials from 6 to 8 and free music called BAMcafe Live at 9 every Friday and Saturday. I never knew it was so popular. The place was packed! We were too hungry to stick around to see Avery Sunshine but I can't wait to go back and take in a performance sometime. I recommend getting there early for a table :)

on the hunt: perfect spring jacket


I wish these two jackets from Uniqlo would have a baby together. Then my search for the perfect Army-esqe anorak would be complete. 

The temperatures have finally begun to climb out of the freezing zone here in NYC. While Spring means warmer temperatures, it also brings loads of rain. I'm in need of a new rain coat and have some very specific items I am looking for in a jacket. It should be waterproof and have a hood with a drawstring to repel all that rain. I am digging the military look so I want an olive one with some pockets and detail. It absolutely needs pockets at the hip so I can keep my hands warm and occupied while walking (a jacket necessity!). I kind of like the slouchy ones that hid mid-thigh but would be willing to compromise on length. One thing I will not compromise on is a cinched in waist. I am tired of all these shapeless clothes these days that don't even look good on models (ever heard of Man Repeller?). I want to look like a girl! So far I've been (virtually) striking out. Here are some of the contenders that didn't quite satisfy my laundry list of requirements:

Banana Republic, adorable but no hood

Anthropologie, again no hood but an awesome drawstring at the waist

Hurley, a little too manly for my taste (maybe it looks different on)

American Eagle, how do people live without hoods?!

Macy's, also comes in olive, may be a little too girly although the $28 sale is growing on me

Loft, really like this one but am unsure about the hood status, may require a trip to an actual store

I saw a girl with my perfect jacket at the grocery store the other day. I should have asked her where she got it from!!! If you see anything that meets my criteria, please let me know! I can tell spring and the impending monsoons are right around the corner!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ugh. More of the Same.

Spring, where are you?




 

Please come soon. I can't take much more.

An Education

I must be about a year late on this bandwagon but I finally got around to watching An Education this weekend.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and would definitely suggest it. Carey Mulligan is adorable and I can't wait to see her in more things. I want a cute British accent just like hers.

The styling was incredible. I loved all the clothes, sets, and scenery. It might have stirred up some dormant love for London and Paris too. I can't wait to go back! 

Be Gone, Closet Doors

Work on the room has been slow these days. Kurt is currently on a week long ski trip in Wyoming, so I have had plenty of time to focus on my own space (maybe too much time). I have been meaning to tackle my closet doors ever since Kurt and his boss suggested removing them.

Before (right after moving in...ahh, so little clutter)

One night after dinner (and a couple beers), Kurt and I got ambitious and took the doors down. Luckily (or surprisingly), they were only held up with a few screws which made removing them quick.  

I fell in love with these curtains from World Market. I adore the pattern! Unfortunately they are a little pricey (ugh! and now on sale!), so I only let myself buy one panel to cover two closets. I planned to cut them in half and add some extra fabric in a complementary color to fill the door opening. 

Oh, and I don't sew, so this was all accomplished with hem tape and my poor little iron. (I don't exactly lose sleep over wrinkles so this was the most strenuous day of work my iron has ever seen!) Pardon the clutter...other craft projects in progress :)

The green fabric is a twin flat sheet from Ikea. $4.50! What a steal! Unfortunately the hem tape didn't bond well to the sheets, so they may require some actual sewing to take them beyond the half-ass state they are currently in. The pictures are kind of convincing though, right?! I'm happy with the look, but now my only dilemma is where to store the doors that are no longer on the wall. There is no where in the entire apartment they can be concealed. Currently they are stashed behind my bed but may make a move to the building hallway soon. Ahh...the joys of NYC living :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

dinner + movie marathon

Kurt and I spent 3 days centered around food and movies. It's something I could really get used to.

Saturday: (heavenly) Shrimp and Grits, Apple Berry Cobbler, and quirky Woody Allen at Kurt's apartment.

Shrimp and grits recipe here. I could eat my body weight of this stuff. Definitely not healthy but oh so delicious! Kurt did most of the cooking and I threw together dessert. The apple cobbler is a bastardized version of this Barefoot Contessa recipe found via my friend Laura's blog. I added berries to the apple mixture and upped the proportion of crumb topping (really, I just got tired of chopping apples (which I also left the skins on)). Despite my laziness, it still turned out great.


The feast was paired with this movie:

Whatever Works

It was pretty funny and in a roundabout way fit into our (inadvertent) Southern food theme. 
______________________

Sunday: Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli, Gorgonzola Potatoes, and Salad followed by a rugged Western at BAM

Kurt is always cooking for me. He loves it (I hope) and is just so good at it, so I have absolutely no issue playing sous chef. However, Sunday I decided to take on the task of dinner with absolutely no meddling help from Kurt. I made crab cakes, potatoes, and a salad with a lemon-y dressing. 



I have this recipe for Gorgonzola potatoes from my mother but cut the corners on it too much this time. I remember it being much better when she made it. I'm on a mission to perfect it before I post the recipe.


I've been grossed out by bottled salad dressings lately, so I've been working on making my own. I love the combination of olive oil, lemon, and a little bit of minced garlic. I'm also a big fan of feta, if you can't tell :)

After dinner, we took in a late show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music a couple blocks from my apartment. They always have amazing performances practically at my doorstep, but I rarely get around to going. In the two years I've been in the neighborhood, I've literally only been to two movies at the cinema and this was Kurt's first experience. I'm vowing to incorporate more cultural activities into my routine. 


The Coen Brothers were skating on thin ice with me after Fargo, but I was pleasantly surprised with True Grit. There were a few cringe-worthy moments when I had to turn away and I might have shed a tear or two for a horse at the end (Mom, you can't watch!) but I really enjoyed the story. The little girl (played by Hailee Steinfeld) was fantastic. I feel like she stole the show. You should definitely see it.
______________________

Monday: Happy Valentine's Day! Budget dinner and an anti-romantic comedy in Cobble Hill.

Kurt and I have offices very close to each other near Union Square. We have a few places we frequent for lunch or after work drinks. One of our favorites is Piola. They have really good, thin Italian style pizza with tons of interesting topping combinations. Plus, they have good weeknight deals (free wine on Ladies' Night?! hello?!) including free snacks during happy hour (apertivo) Monday through Friday. All you do is order a drink and they bring around a bunch of different small plates. You won't be stuffed but it's definitely our little secret to a light and inexpensive dinner.

We had plans to see an 8:30 movie in Brooklyn at the Cobble Hill Theater, which happens to be across the street from Sweet Melissa's. We got a couple cookies as movie snacks but devoured them before the previews started.


It might not have been the most lovey dovey romantic thing we could have seen on Valentine's Day but Kurt and I saw Blue Valentine. Wow. It's excellent but painfully honest. There's no glamour or idealism. It's just raw and heartbreaking. Of course, I've loved Ryan Gosling ever since the Notebook and will admit that I saw Michelle Williams in her early days on Dawson's Creek, but they were great together. It will hurt, but you should see this movie. Bring the tissues and reserve yourself a block of time afterwards to contemplate what just happened.

(Oh, and all the music is by Grizzly Bear which is really amazing. My favorite in the movie is "Foreground". I must have listened to it five times once I got home.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love at First Sight


I've never met a wild and crazy tribal print I didn't like. This one and I are sharing a little love today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wanderlust



Since New York City has been less than pleasant lately, I can't help but dream of being somewhere else. Anywhere else. While at Madiba recently, I dreamed that it would be nice to visit South Africa one day. It's not exactly in the cards this year, but it got me thinking about places I want to travel soon-ish...like within the realm of 2011. I may have gone a bit overboard :)

{Charleston via}

Some spots like Austin and Charleston are just because destinations. Even though I have never visited either city, they are both on my "Places I Could Possibly See Myself Living Once I Grow Wary of NYC" List (nice title, right?). I've heard such good things about both places but figure I should check them out before I pack my bags. Note their Southern location (i.e. warmer climate).

{DC via}

I haven't been to Washington DC since I was a senior in high school. Before that, I don't think I had been since my family lived in Virginia when I was younger. It would be great to go back and experience it as an adult. Plus, it is a pretty easy train or bus ride from NYC. I would love to go for the Cherry Blossom Festival (March 26-April 10) but anytime in the Spring would be fun.

{Montreal via}

Kurt has been dying to visit Montreal ever since I have known him. The train ride there should be breathtaking and I hear the city is very European. Love. We actually had the chance to go back in January and Kurt worked out this very detailed travel itinerary as one of my Christmas presents. I was really excited about it at first but then freaked out and decided I would die from hypothermia if we went. I'm a big wimp. What can I say? We've vowed to go when the temperatures climb out of the single digits. Plus, Amtrak has a great deal on train tickets to Montreal if you travel before April 25th. I better start brushing up on my French now!

I'm headed back down to Alabama in April for a lovely wedding! I could not be more excited for the happy couple and am really looking forward to showing Kurt the Rural Studio

{Chicago via}

Kurt has close friends who live in Chicago and often invite him to visit. I've never been and Kurt loves it there. When job searching after college, he would have rather gone there instead of NYC. I would love to take in a baseball game, visit this "beach" Kurt keeps promising me is there, and hope for an Obama sighting.

{via}

I've never been to California. It's probably a good thing. I fear that once I go I will fall in love with the constantly pleasant temperature, beaches, and sunshine. I wouldn't be surprised if I give up on the East Coast completely. Well, Kurt's good friends from Slovenia, Katja and Ales, are getting married in April and are honeymooning in Los Angeles. It would be great to see them again and reminisce about our time in Ljubljana last summer (see here and here). Then a certain friend is spending some time in Santa Cruz from March to October. Not sure if both (or either) trips can happen but it would be great to explore a new frontier!

Speaking of new frontiers, Kurt and I have been talking about doing a joint trip to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Being a West Coast virgin, I've never been to either. Kurt loves Portland (it's on his post-NYC list) but has yet to explore Seattle. Since they are so close, we thought they could be combined into a longer summer trip. Kurt's aunt and uncle live in Oregon, so we also might be able to score free transportation and lodging. It will be great to catch up with a few Auburn friends living out there and see a new, hippie-ish city. I hear Portland and Brooklyn are very similar. However, I hope those Ducks (yes, Kurt, I know the University of Oregon is in Eugene and not Portland) are over this little incident by July or so.

See that tiny little scarlet and grey star down in Florida? Well, Ohio State plays at Miami this year (counterpart to the game we saw in Columbus last year). Kurt loves football. I love the beach. Perfection! I've got my fingers crossed for this one.

Anyone want to sponsor (or join in on!) my excessive travels throughout the year? It's practically educational. I'm studying new cultures, meeting new people, and trying new things. Totally worth it :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Exploring My Neighborhood

{via}

Last night Kurt and I tried out Madiba, a South African restaurant in my neighborhood. I'm absolutely in love with all these online coupon sites out now (like Groupon and Scoutmob) which scored us 50% off our meal. It helps ease my guilt about spending money and encourages us to try new places we might not normally visit.


In other news, I am totally fed up with my camera. Every single image I take is grainy, even ones in bright sunlight. I think it's time for an upgrade. I haven't even begun to look at new cameras or consider what I want, but I know my #1 priority is getting crisp images in low light. Any suggestions, photo savvy readers?


Dinner at Madiba was really tasty! As per usual, Kurt and I split an entrĂ©e and added a couple sides. The menu was filled with authentic South African dishes which is definitely a new horizon for me. We decided to try the Bobotie which reminded me of a gourmet meatloaf. It was served with rice and a sampling of sauces. We paired it with some delicious grilled/roasted vegetables and flatbread which we topped with chutney. Everything was so flavorful with spices (but not necessarily spicy which was nice). It reminded me a lot of Indian food and curry flavors.

I wish I could have gotten some images of the decor (but of course it was dark and my camera is crap). There are animal skins on the walls and rich, saturated colors everywhere with quirky light fixtures and furniture sprinkled in. The vibe is rugged and cozy. Even after we finished eating, Kurt and I shared another beer and just hung out at talked. It was really nice. It is typically really busy on the weekends, so our Thursday night outing worked out well. I definitely suggest checking it out!

Monday, February 7, 2011

weekend.

It was another pretty photo-less weekend. My apologies.

Friday night, Kurt and I had dinner at National, the super cheap Thai restaurant near my apartment. We took advantage of their BYO alcohol policy (Is it wrong to bring Japanese beer to a Thai restaurant?) and broke out from our (more like my) Pad Thai rut and tried Shrimp Pad See Ew. Very good. Then we both fell asleep in the middle of Analyze That. Super exciting evening.


The main event of the weekend was a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at Kurt's apartment on Saturday night. Last year they hosted a similar dinner in response to the earthquake disaster in Haiti. This year, we focused on helping a village in Samoa build the infrastructure (gutters and water tanks) to collect rainwater. Kurt and his boss have personally been involved with the project over the past few years. It was great to continue spreading the word and collect whatever contribution we could. I think it was quite a success! 

Of course I didn't take any pictures but Kurt's brother Erik had the brilliant idea to set up a camera in one spot that would take a picture every 2 or 3 minutes to capture the night's progression. Catch the entire string of images on YouTube here. Thanks, Erik!


Prep time before any guests arrived. Erik and Silvia worked on a salad. I toiled away on some Tomato Bruschetta and Sweet Pea Crostini (both adapted from Big Girls, Small Kitchen recipes). Kurt was the pasta master--preparing a boatload of spaghetti and two sauces, spicy and mild.


Near the height of the party. We never got an overall headcount of guests but the apartment was definitely FULL. I spent most of the time next door in Jenn's apartment just to get some breathing room. We were all terrified that the food would run out but thankfully there was more than enough. It was a great turnout to say the least. After the dust settled and we took a peek at the collection bowl, we realized the party had raised over $500! We did not expect that much at all and are so grateful to everyone who contributed to the project. Every little bit helps and it will be great to send them a nice, fat check soon. Thanks, everyone!

Sunday was a good recovery day. Cleanup from the party was surprisingly quick and easy. I was even able to take some leftovers to a Super Bowl party later in the evening which was graciously hosted by my friend Andrea. There was so much food for essentially five people to consume. We were gluttons while criticizing all the commercials and the half time show. I guess the evening was interspersed with brief spurts of watching the game too.

Then before you know it I'm back at work on Monday morning. Where do the weekends go?!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

joining the 21st century


I finally did it. I broke down and got an iPhone as my birthday present. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not the new 4 or anything (Is that not even considered new anymore? Am I that far behind?). I'm too cheap frugal to follow the cutting edge of technology. Instead, I dug through the online bargain bin from AT&T and got a 3GS for $50. I was tempted by a refurbished model for $20 (and even another refurb with a cosmetic blemish for $9!) but decided that new was the way to go. Don't ask me why, but my new little friend had to travel to Alabama before we could be united, so I just received it today. I will be sure to fill you in on all the grand life changes that come about once we become well acquainted :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Pioneer Woman


Tonight I went to the Barnes and Noble in Union Square to see Ree Drummond, otherwise known as the Pioneer Woman. She writes one of my favorite blogs and just published a memoir about her whirlwind romance with her husband. The book was released today, and NYC was the first stop on her book tour. She was cute and funny and much more soft spoken than I expected. She even confessed she is not much of a public speaker and loves blogging because it is practically the antithesis of that. I agree.

Now I did something dumb today. Before I left for work this morning I got the bright idea to buy the new book online because Barnes and Noble has one day shipping in Manhattan (and maybe I am cheap and thought I would get a better deal online). I could get it delivered to work and have it in hand for her to sign when the time came. Somehow I failed to consider that I was going to see her speak at a huge book store that just might have a couple extra copies around for all us nerdy blog followers. And it turns out that "one day shipping" means by 7pm which is exactly when the program started. So, in the end, I left the office before the book arrived. I'm pretty sure they had 50% of the published copies of the book at Barnes and Noble. They practically wallpapered the place with them. I was so tempted to buy another copy, get it signed, and give the copy which is hopefully now sitting in my office as a gift. Once again I was cheap and did not. So now I have zero signed copies :( 

I also went by myself, so I didn't have the opportunity to be awkward and ask for a picture with Ree because I didn't have a photographer/wingman. Well, the Pioneer Woman has a children's book and another cookbook coming out soon-ish, so there's always next time!

weekend.


I have a pretty cushy job. Unlike many of my fellow young architects, I never have to work late. Ever. At six thirty on any given day you will find our office completely deserted. I like it that way. There's no need to work crazy hours. I guess having clients that don't demand deadlines has something to do with it. Well, last night was the exception to the rule. Our office has entered a competition against two other architects for a big job in the Upper East Side...right off the park, near the Met kind of big. The presentation is this morning, so we were working furiously all day yesterday to get some amazing ideas down to WOW the prospective client. We were at the office until 10:30 and I had to miss out on a launch party for RUE magazine that I had been looking forward to for a while. I hear it was a super fun party. (Right, Jenn? :)  ) I guess we all make sacrifices. That said, there wasn't much time yesterday for the weekend update. Tuesday evening still isn't too bad.

[Omit bracketed portion for shortened version. It may or may not just be a rant about why I sometimes don't like Manhattan.]


Friday night was in honor of Silvia. We celebrated her exodus from her awful job and wished her luck at her new position at SOM which started this week. The night started at the Rockwood Music Hall to see the Third Wheel Band. Silvia saw them in Brooklyn on Halloween and is now a big fan. They put on a great show and are very fun to dance to (as long as the venue isn't teeny tiny...which it usually is). After their early show, we headed to the Magician bar in the Lower East Side. I love when bars that don't serve food let you order in. We got a couple pizzas from Two Boots which is always a crowd favorite. Congratulations on all the big life changes, Silvia!

Saturday I spent some time working on my room and welcomed our new roommate as she and her clan moved all her stuff into the apartment. The landscape architects' scheme won out for my bedroom and I'm trying to make it look more homey. Thank you Kurt and Steven for your input. Now I still need help getting those closet doors off their hinges...hint, hint.


The walls got some decoration with my small collection of maps and Jasper Johns print.


This little Ikea drawer set got a paint job like his big brothers.


My magazine/mirror project was reinstalled at the entrance. That empty little corner by the windows is waiting to be filled by a chair that has been betrothed to me by Kurt's parents. Once it arrives, I have a very talented friend who has promised to reupholster the cushions for me. I better start looking for fabric now. It will take me that long to decide!


Saturday evening Kurt made a delicious butternut squash risotto. It was really incredible. It may have had something to do with my amazing stirring skills :)

[Saturday night Kurt and I had three birthdays to celebrate. It started out fine but ended up kind of lame. I would like to blame it on Manhattan. Yep, the whole island. 

First we met some friends in the Lower East side at Stanton Public. The bar was cool and they had a great beer selection. It was very low key. One of the girls who was there for the celebration works for Jet Blue. She met Cam Newton when her company flew all the Heisman nominees to NYC. She said he was very nice and quite attractive :)

After a drink, we headed to the West Village/Meatpacking District for a joint birthday for Paul and Stephen. The destination was 675 Bar on Hudson Street (near where Ms. Jane Jacobs used to live). However, Kurt and I never made it in because we had to stand in this super long line. A line! Can you believe it?! Not only was waiting annoying but it was freeeeeeezing cold and we were surrounded by guys with gelled hair and girls teetering in ridiculously high heels and tight, short skirts (I was foolishly wearing my snow boots and puffer. I guess I was the only one who got the memo about sub-freezing temperatures). Thankfully we were eventually released from bridge and tunnel purgatory when we received word that our party was switching bars. Apparently, even if you got inside 675, it was still unbearable. 

We tried the nearby Brass Monkey. Although there wasn't much line outside, the crowd was mainly the same and the place was so uncomfortably packed you could barely find a place to stand, let alone sit, get a drink from the bar, or carry on a conversation with the person standing next to you. We stayed for one beer, exchanged some pleasantries with the birthday boys, then headed back to Brooklyn where it is quiet and casual. Now I remember why we don't go to Manhattan very often.]


Sunday was spent working on Kurt's room. It's been on the docket for a while and got pushed off from last week when we painted my room. The main event was assembling his new Ikea bed (snagged in the As Is section, by the way). Kurt had never had the pleasure of building a piece of Ikea furniture before and we picked a pretty complicated one to start with. It ended up going pretty smoothly but took a few hours. The bed has storage drawers underneath, so we were able to discard a shelf unit which was taking up a lot of valuable floor and wall space. Total transformation! Now if only those bikes could find another home....


Jenn made Kurt and I some delicious Pumpkin Enchiladas (recipe here) as Sunday Movie Night continued with Fargo. I don't care to tell you much about the movie, but I did not like it and would not recommend it. It was violent and depressing and pretty pointless. I can handle blood and destruction as long as there is some resolution or message. There was none that I could surmise. Kurt liked it for some reason. Ask him. All I can say is that I am picking next week's movie...
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