Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Sales!

It's that time of year again. No not the unofficial start to summer (although here in NY it seems that summer started yesterday with the 90+ degree weather we had), but the insane Memorial Day Sale season. I think it's a safe bet to say almost every retail store is having some kind of a sale, but I'm going to list a few here that I've been alerted to:

Victoria's Secret - They're having their semiannual sale, but if you use the code VSSHIP50 and this pin: RBWL2038Q you get free shipping on all orders over $50.
Bath and Body Works - Free shipping on all orders $40 or more, plus with the code FREEBODYCARE you get a free full size body care item with purchase of $10 or more.
Restoration Hardware
Urban Outfitters
CO Bigelow - 25% off everything
Saks Fifth Avenue - Up to 60% off select items, plus with this code: SHOPSFA free shipping.

NY Philharmonic is also having a sale through Monday where there are many tickets for $35.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Huge Sales for the Home all Over!

I've gotten a few emails lately about some really huge sales going on right now. Figured I'd let you know about them!

*Crate and Barrel just put tons of things that were already on sale on even further clearance.
*Today is the last day Macy's is having a home goods sale. The more you spend the more you save.
*Bath and Body Works is having their sale on Soap and Anti-bacterial products as well as a sale on Wallflowers. Plus if you shop online orders of $40 or more will ship for $1.
*Pottery Barn is having a sale on bedding right now,
*Layla Grace is having a Wedding Boutique sale right now. Enter the code WEDDING2010 and you'll get 15% off the items. Secret though, a lot of these products aren't necessarily that "wedding" themed. There's furniture, kitchen stuff, and more.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quite Possibly the Best Dessert You've Ever Had

Seriously, I'm not lying. I received the cookbook Sticky Chewy Messy Gooey Desserts as an engagement present and when looking through for a dessert one evening I actually laughed with sarcasm when the author claimed it was her favorite dessert of all time and would be mine too. Set with that challenge, I made the dessert and have since converted many other people to its deliciousness. I am no longer allowed to make anything else for work functions, and every major event at our home must have it. You will love this dessert too if you make it, but you may not want to share!

Here is the recipe from that book with a few notes/changes that I have made.


1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 and ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond flour or very finely ground almonds
1 and ½ cup blackberry preserves (I also just use whatever it takes to
cover the dish you're cooking it in)
½ cup chopped almonds

**last time I made it I put that much sugar in it, but it was too sweet. Not sure if it was the jam or there really was just too much sugar. So you may want to put 3/4 cup of each instead, or taste to your liking.


If you don’t have almond flour on hand, you can make it like I did by grinding up 1 cup of almonds in your food processor until they are finely ground. It’s going to be combined with the flour so texture-wise, you want to get it as finely ground as possible.

Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Using an electric mixture set at medium low speed, beat it until creamy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.

Combine almond flour (or ground almonds) with the flour. Mix well. Combine the dry mixture into the butter mixture on low speed, until a smooth, soft dough forms. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and press 1/3 of the dough evenly into the pan to form a bottom crust. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold and firm, at least 30 minutes. (Mine rarely makes it to 30 minutes. You can also put yours in the freezer, but make sure to thaw it properly in the fridge before baking.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the bottom crust until it is firm and just beginning to turn pale brown around the edges, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the preserves evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the jam to form a pebbly, crumbled topping. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds.

Return pan to the oven and continue baking until topping is firm and crisp and lightly golden in color, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Use a sharp knife to cut bars evenly into 15 large squares. Do not try to cut when it is cold. Remove the bars from the pan with a metal spatula and if desired, cut in half on the diagonal to form 30 smaller triangular bars. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

The bars will keep, covered tightly, for about 1 week at room temperature, or in the freezer for up to one month.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Even though it seems that right now, at least in New York, April showers bring May showers the old saying goes that flowers should be abundant right now. Lilac trees are blossoming and roses are about to peak. It's a good time of year for all things flowery. In our home, I love to have cut fresh flowers or a nice bright potted one here and there, but since our two cats also love to have flowers (for a nice afternoon snack) we don't buy them ofter. However, even I have caved recently and bought us a nice little Gerber that is amazingly still alive a week later.

Just like Spring bringing flowers, it also brings Spring fashion that you couldn't exactly get away with in the dead of winter. For the last few Springs I've noticed the growing trend in floral prints. Everything from your bright 80s floral couch to the softer 50s floral couch look with cuts that flatter every shape and throw back to every decade of the last 70 years. (Hard to imagine 1940 was already 70 years ago huh?) Even Harper's Bazaar has recognized it as a huge trend.

There are so many dresses available right now I only went on two different websites that I thought had the best selection of styles and am only showing a small sample of what they have. Any more and this entry could be 10 pages long.


From Forever 21:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fashionable Spring Gnocchi

When I was in high school I spent the last 6 months before college thinking about how wonderful college would be. I used Binghamton as the idea of a mecca, like when I got there I'd be free from the pettyness of high school, free of the stress of living at home, and free to be who I really wanted to be. Free to be introspective, change, and grow up.

I have to admit that Nick and I have been living the last few weeks thinking like that, and I'm sure the feeling will only intensify the closer we get to our move. We keep thinking about living in a bigger apartment with more amenities, not being stressed out by certain aspects of our jobs, having better weather, being away from family drama, living a Greener lifestyle, and being in a more liberal enviornment (that's not to say New York isn't liberal, but certain things are more available in California).

This Friday I plan on booking a moving van, which means we will officially have a moving date. The frenzy of packing and reality of what it means to be 3,000 miles away from everything we know will truly set in. It does sound like we're putting too many expectations of Palo Alto being a perfect haven from life here, but there truly are many things that are going to change. And we're about to embark on a major adventure, so it's exciting nonetheless.

Part of what I've been doing to get excited has been revolving around our kitchen. Even though I can't go out and spend money on Spring Fashion and light and airy homeware, I have to eat. So I've been using my reusable shopping bags and getting seasonable vegetables to make delicious and light dinners.

After doing a google search on what exactly those seasonal vegetables are (apricots, beets, kiwis, radishes, and stawberries just to name a few), I came up with a recipe that sounded so yummy I had to invite people over to try it out. We now have two seperate evenings which we plan to have 4 or 5 people over, and the 1950s housewife in me is jumping for joy at the idea of planning meals for so many people.

Last Friday we had my friend Danielle over for dinner so I could experiment the following gnocchi recipe on her. Now I know gnocchi is not normally thought of as a spring food (most people think the potato sits like a rock in their stomach), but for someone who enjoys a heavier meal (like I do), this is the perfect balance between filling and light for the warmer weather.


-2 pounds of regular potato gnocchi
-2 whole shallots
-1 bunch of thin asparagus
-3/4 cup of peas (I used frozen)
-crimini mushroms
-oyster mushrooms
-2 cloves of garlic
-good quality parmesean cheese
-4 tablespoons butter
-4 tablesppons olive oil
-3 pieces of bacon

*Start off by cooking the bacon. Don't cook it like you would cook your breakfast bacon. Cook it about half way, then remove it from the pan.
*Slice up other veggies while the bacon is cooking. First start with the shallots and garlic. Chop/mince the garlic and slice up the shallots in small pieces. Then melt the butter and olive oil together. When the butter is completely melted, add the garlic and shallots.
*Around here is when you want to turn on the pot you're going to cook your gnocchi in to get the water boiling.
*To cut asparagus, bend a piece until it breaks. Where it breaks, cut the rest and throw the bottom pieces away. Then slice the rest on an angle into bite sized pieces. Add those next.
*Cut up the mushrooms into small pieces (smaller than you could for a normal pasta dish, but not diced). Add those next and add in the peas too.
*By now the water for the gnocchi should have boiled and the gnocchi should be in there too. Right around the time the gnocchi is done cooking you should cut up the bacon into small pieces and add to the pan with the rest of your veggies. Add the nutmeg as well. I usually add spices by covering the whole pan, giving a stir, then covering the whole pan again. I'm not sure how much that is, but if you're a real measurement Nazi, I'd say start off with a teaspoon and go from there.
*Fresh gnocchi cooks very fast (less than 5 minutes). So once you're done adding the nutmeg you will only have a short while to sit back before you need to drain the gnocchi. When you do, add it straight to your frying pan (tip: make sure you use the biggest frying pan you have because this is A LOT of food).
*Once the gnocchi is mixed, start grating your cheese on top. I pick out cheese by smelling it. That sounds gross, but it's the same as buying produce. How do you know if something is fresh and will taste good if you don't smell it first? Anyways, half the time I pick out cheese and have no idea what the name of it is. I just know that it's in a certain family and it will taste good. Use your own tastebuds on this one, but I picked out something in the parmesean family from Whole Foods. And add as much or as little cheese as you want. I usually add a little bit at first and then put the cheese out on the table in case other people like a lot of cheese on their pasta (tip: I don't know if you've noticed but I don't like to cook with salt. I'm really sensitive to it, so I never use it. Rarely does anyone notice. Usually when using certain spices or ingredients (like parmesean cheese), the cheese is salty enough that no one misses it. That being said, I always put salt and pepper out on the table just in case.)

I served this for three people with a very simple salad (mixed greens, tofu, an apple, trail mix, and olive oil and vinegar) and a loaf of french bread. This Saturday I plan to make the same thing but with a steak, and a side dish of sauteed red, orange, yellow peppers, and onions. I'm also planning on making another vegetable side dish, but I can't decide just what yet. I'll let the market inspire me. Dessert will be mini pavlovas with berries and whipped cream.


While we're on the topic of food, I stumbled across this cookbook today online and I thought it looked really good. For the fashionista mom (if you're stil looking for another Mother's Day gift), it would be perfect. I'm adding it to my wishlist, if I ever get it I'll let you know if it turns out to be a good buy.

$29.50 at

The last pages have a food questionnaire that you can fill out with your guests. I figured I'd fill mine out now just for fun:

My favorite restaurant: Spring Street Natural in NYC
My favorite person to cook for: My husband of course
The ingredient that is most indispensible to me: Rosemary or Nutmeg
My favorite "sinful" indulgence: Coldstone Creamery Ice cream
The most sensual meal would include: a dessert that can be shared
My favorite cuisine: Italian
The most unforgettable meal I have ever experienced: dinner at the Deer Hill Inn in Vermont
My ideal dinner guest list includes: several of my best friends and their significant others (but I can't fit 20 people at my dinner table)
The strongest memory of my mother's cooking: Baking brownies together and getting to lick the bowl afterwards
My idea of a food extravaganza: Italy or France, especially on market day
The most fashionable dish I can prepare: Maybe this gnocchi? I also make amazing desserts
The most edible person: A gingerbread bear
My dream dinner date or location: In Greece on the Meditteranean Ocean with my husband (or the actor Matthew Goode)
An ideal dinner party should: have the right music mix and lighting
The most appropriate time for dinner to begin: 7pm if it's just us two, 8pm if you're entertaining
My dream pattern or brand of flatware and table setting: Simple flatware with white plates. Plain white plates makes your food pop and look that much more delicious. White flowers with bright accented table linens only add to that.
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