Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolution? How about 30!

I used to make New Year's Resolutions. Things that I honestly intended to keep, and in truth often worked at (even if I didn't always fulfill them). I've been trying to think about what to make my resolution this year, but so many things I could come up with are either the same old stuff or things I should be doing anyway (like trying to do well in school or be healthy). Then a fellow blogger posted about her 30 under 30 and I was intrigued having never heard of the idea before.

Long story short, a 30 under 30 list is sort of like a bucket list for young people. It's things you want to get done before you turn 30. For some people that's the mark of true adulthood. That's when you have to get serious, have a baby, be finished with higher education, and have a steady foot in the door of your career.

I'm not sure I fully agree with any of those ideas, it really depends on you as a person and what you want of your life. But I guess for me since I'll be done with school, I see that as reaching my true adulthood. I'll finally be able to say I achieved one of my main goals in life (which is my 9 year+ dream of getting my PhD in clinical psychology and becoming a psychologist). Right now I always say things like "when I grow up" or "when I get to start my real life" and that's generally what I mean; being out of school and not having to put things off because school will be in the way somehow.

So I worked long and hard at coming up with my 30 under 30 list. A list of practical and fun things, achievements, and milestones. Definitely too much for just one year, but hopefully I'll get it all done in the 4 1/2 years I have left!

1. Never stop playing soccer.
2. Get my PhD.
3. Have a baby, or at least try to have a baby.
4. Go to Hawaii.
5. Pay off credit card debt.
6. Go to France.
7. Find at least two life long friends in California.
8. Maintain my vegetable garden for at least one year.
9. Buy new dining room chairs.
10. Surprise myself with my grades.
11. Keep my current best friends.
12. Restore the ugly orange chair.
13. Do something I always say I'll never do ever.
14. Get an article published that is not my dissertation.
15. Drive the California coast.
16. Host a great weekend or Holiday here with my family.
17. Be a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding.
18. Organize my computer files (music, photos, and school stuff).
19. Take a vacation (even just an overnight trip) with just the girls.
20. Learn more about wine.
21. Figure out how to tell a chicken/roast beef/fish/etc. is done cooking just by looking at it.
22. See Radiohead live.
23. Learn how to fancy dance (ie. waltz, salsa, etc.) with my husband.
24. Start saving for a house.
25. Make an Italian meal for my husband's Italian family.
26. Work at least one job that is completely frivolous and fun (ie. not a resume booster).
27. Get into at least 5 new bands every year.
28. Read for pleasure more.
29. Finish my old diary.
30. Start a massive project, and actually finish it.

Wow that seems like a lot...I wonder if I have until I turn 30, or until the end of the 30th year?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Restaurant Review: Harmony Tea Room

Hope you all had a great Christmas, I know I did. We even got some snow in! Or should I say, a lot of snow in. We're currently stuck at my parent's house since they canceled our flight back to California because of the blizzard. I have to admit that I've been a little bit upset about this. I love snow, and I am very happy we got to see some while here, but I miss my cats and I'm getting anxious thinking about the mounting mail, laundry pile, and God knows what else is waiting for us when we finally get home. We'll have been gone for almost 2 weeks!

Since I've been so busy here with trying to get in as many visits with people and celebrating the Holiday, I have been away from the computer a lot, so I apologize that this is entry is coming so far away from the last one!


I love the culture of British tea time. I think my inner girlie girl likes the idea of getting dressed up in florals while eating finger foods and gabbing with my girlfriends. Funny enough, even though I have relatives in England and have spent a lot of time there, it wasn't until after I came home from a summer program abroad that I finally figured out which teas I like. Once that happened I was hooked and I think I'm now mildly obsessed. Some of my friends and I have thrown tea parties, and any time I find a tea shop that serves traditional high tea meals it becomes an instant favorite. One in particular that I really love going to is in Westwood, New Jersey called Harmony Tea Room.

The first few times I went to Harmony Tea Room I wondered how they stay in business. I was usually the only person in the restaurant (besides whoever I was with at the time). But I've gone enough times now to see that they usually do have quite a few tables filled and have special events (like third Sunday brunch, birthday tea parties, showers, etc.) in their separate dining room too. There are times when it is very busy, and then the place feels cramped because the main room is so tiny. But overall, it's a very quaint and relaxing space.

The decor itself is tea and floral themed (really, would you expect anything else) and the places are set with mismatched tea cups and plates. My friends and I love to switch our cups around so we each of the one we like best and we always laugh about how the place turns a bunch of 20somethings into 6 year old little girls.

The tea list is long and while I always get Earl Grey, they have other black teas, green teas, herbal teas, and a favorite of all of my friends, Chocolate Tea. The food itself is traditional tea time fare, scones, sandwiches (I love the turkey and cranberry stuffing one), and cakes (chocolate and peanut butter, white chocolate raspberry, etc.). They also serve salad and soup, and everything changes on a seasonal basis with some of the traditional ones and other favorites (like cucumber sandwiches and chocolate chip scones) being available all year round.

Contrary to what you might think, I've also seen a lot of guys at the restaurant as well. Nick loves it as does one of our friends, and one of my friend's boyfriend is DYING to go.

Harmony Tea Room, is in my opinion, was of the best tea rooms I've ever been to. Considering most tea rooms charge upwards of $30 for a traditional tea and their prices start at $18, it's well worth the money.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Site News

Two things!

First, if you have not voted in my poll, there's 6 days left! It's on the right of the browser page so just do some clicking and let me know what you'd like me to write about!

And second, I'd really like to have another contest. If we can get to 200 fans on the Facebook page then we'll do it. Invite your friends!

Some of my Favorite things - Entertainment Edition

Merry Christmas-Eve everyone! Hope you all have a great holiday with your family and friends. In keeping with the Favorite Things themed entries, today's entry is highlighting some of my favorite records and movies.


Of all time...Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

This changes on a regular basis, but since this album came out it has been the reigning champion. Arcade Fire is a band that is not for everyone. They have their catchy songs and their songs that are a little off the beaten path. To me Neon Bible is their most accessible album, but that's not why I like it. It's my favorite because it flows together well, tells a story, and all the songs on here are solid. Indie rock at it's finest.
Standout Tracks: Keep the Cars Running, No Cars Go

To relax to...New York Tendaberry by Laura Nyro

I think Laura Nyro is one of the most underrated singers of all time. She wrote many hits for so many other people and was never really recognized by fame for her major contributions. Better than Carly Simon. Better than Carol King. Her voice is powerful and her songs are moving and soulful. This album is a tribute to my favorite place on her (and hers), New York City. It's my quintessential rainy day, Fall time, 4 in the afternoon album.
Standout Tracks: Tom Cat Goodbye, Gibsom Street

To get hyped up to...Tonight: Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

When we have people over I go all out and even when I'm excited to entertain, I need a little something to get me going. So when I know I've got some serious cooking ahead of me I pop this CD and get all revved up. This album by Franz Ferdinand reminds me of everything that was good about the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Dancey synth music with heavy bass and just a tinge of 60s lyricism in there. Usually midway through this album Nick finds his way downstairs and a dance party starts in the kitchen, apron, spatula and all.
Standout Tracks: Ulysses, Can't Stop Feeling

For the Holidays...A Christmas Gift to You by Phil Spector

Psycho killer producer aside, this album is timeless. One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time (Baby Please Come Home by Darlene Love) is on here, and that alone I could listen to over and over again. But you add in the wall of sound as it translates to Christmas songs and I'm a goner. Christmas is about celebrating and being happy, and this album, to me at least, sums up that mood.

To play when company is over...Time Out by Dave Brubeck

This classic album has one of the greatest jazz songs of all time on it (Take Five) and sets the mood for any cocktail hour, dinner party, or Mad Men themed shindig. Not everyone likes jazz, but just about everyone can appreciate this album.


Of all time...Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Jim Carey and Kate Winslet have their memories erased and some how manage to still be in love at the same time. It's a powerful message about the nature of love and learning from one's mistakes. Maybe not the best movie to watch right after you break up with someone, but anyone who has gone through a rough patch in any relationship can totally relate.

Holiday...Charlie Brown Christmas

This soundtrack is amazing and the story is timeless. It makes me feel like an excited little kid again. Who doesn't like Charlie Brown, Linus, and Snoopy? Need I say more?

To play when boys are over...Tropic Thunder

Nonstop laughter. Poop jokes. Sex jokes. Drug jokes. Action. Stuff blows up. Fake blood and guts. Tom Cruise in a hideous fat suit. Perfect guys movie? Maybe.

To play when girls are over...Pride and Prejudice

Just like the boys moving having all the right stuff, Pride and Prejudice has all the things girls like in a romantic chick flick. Drama, nice clothes, beautiful scenery (both the nature and the actors), British accents, and a schmoopy lovey dovey ending. If you want to watch a movie and feel good about love, this is as good as it gets.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What are you eating Christmas morning?

We'll be in New York for Christmas which means one of my dad's huge breakfasts (you know those are famous in my family). Knowing him he'll pull out all the stops. Bacon, waffles, eggs 2 different ways, muffins, chocolate chip pancakes. In short, whatever we want! Just in case you don't know what you're going to serve, here's a few yummy and super easy options!

Banana Orange Waffles
- Make waffle mix according to the directions on the box. Mash one large banana very well to the mixture (I think it works best to mash bananas that are already starting to get spotty). Lastly, add 1 1/2 tsp orange extract and cook.

Cheese and Bacon Drop Biscuits

1. Cook 2-3 strips of bacon on the stove (do not cook them all the way like you would when you eat them for breakfast). When cooled, chop into tiny pieces.
2. Add 1 cup of milk, bacon, and 2/3 cup of any cheese you like (I do cheddar or gruyere) to 2 cups of Bisquick. Mix well.
3. Scoop into somewhat ball looking shapes and put onto an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 8 minutes at 450 degrees.

Mushroom Hash with Hollandaise sauce

- Boil potatoes in salted water whole until soft when pricked with a fork. When done, mash coarsely in a pan. Add butter, salt, and chopped baby bella and oyster mushrooms. Cook on high until mushrooms are done.
- When those are done cooking, make the hollandaise sauce according to these directions:

You will need:
* 1 cup of butter
* 2 egg yolks
* 2 tbsp of cold water
* 1 tbsp of lemon juice

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a low heat then remove from heat and add to a bowl.
2. Add some water into a saucepan and heat so that the water is gently simmering but not boiling.
3. In a glass bowl mix the egg yolks with the water until they get frothy (I like to use my hand mixer).
4. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and continue to whisk the egg yolks until they start to thicken.
5. Turn the heat off the burner (if your burner stays very hot when turned off, then remove the bowl from heat). Slowly, pour the melted butter into the eggs, while continuing to whisk.
6. Add lemon juice.

Once all the ingredients are all mixed together, you can top off your hash browns (or put in a gravy boat) and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Restaurant Review: Jovino

Last week I made my first venture into San Francisco (to do more than just one stop shopping) and hung out with my friend Roni for a really nice lunch at Jovino.

The restaurant is small, laid back, and in cafeteria style (you order the food at the counter and they bring it to you at your table). And the decor was lots of light natural wood giving off that earthy tavern-like vibe. There were students hanging out and studying for finals (which I could definitely see myself doing if I lived in the area) and lots of people on break from work having lunch. A front room closer to the counter where you could watch TV (they had a soccer game on, thankfully not the MLS) and a back room where you could go for more space and quiet.

The food itself was delicious mainly creative bar food with a few other fancy things thrown in, all made with "happy meat." I opted for their Parisian burger which came with brie cheese and caramelized onions. I really want to go back to try their Bacon Bleu burger (toppings there are obvious) and their polenta with mushrooms and goat cheese.

Jovino was a great place to hang with your girlfriends in the middle of a shopping day (the area had tons of boutiques, designer, and chain stores), have a lunch date, or hang out with your friends and have a few beers and burgers. Definitely highly recommended.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Some of my favorite things - Food Edition

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things.

Whoever decided My Favorite Things was a Christmas carol must have been on something. I guess I can see it with the mittens, and snowflakes, and sleigh bells mentioned. But there's not a single mention of anything Christmas related, and it has nothing to do with Christmas in A Sound of Music either. And yet, The Surpremes did a great version of it on the Motown Holiday album and now it's part of the plethora of options to sing and play this time of year.

So I got to thinking about what some of my favorite things are and I decided to write a few entries to celebrate the theme. Food, household, and entertainment stuffs will all be talked about. And I'm kicking it off with one of my favorite things ever, food!

Pillsbury Pie Crust - I have very little patience, and making home made pie crust definitely requires some. Everything has to be blended perfectly and then rolled out smoothly. I am not skilled with my rolling pin, and because I acknowledge and accept my limitations I just buy Pillsbury pie crust. Even after it's been frozen for awhile, people still think it's homemade.

Trader Joe's Smoked Gouda - As if it wasn't obvious enough, I love smoked gouda cheese. I've tried a lot of different kinds and I like the one from Trader Joe's the best. It's not oily, melts really well, and it extremely cheap compared to other brands. And of course, it's delicious smokey and sweet.

Drunken Goat Cheese - My other favorite cheese of all time? Goat cheese of course. Goat cheese doesn't just come in the chevre variety (which is what most people think of, the bright white spreadable kind). Goat cheese is really any cheese made from goat's milk. Right now I'm stuck on drunken goat cheese. It comes in a purple rind and I've seen it at places like Andronico's and Whole Foods. It's smooth and not as sharp as chevre and goes really well with dates.

Club Crackers - So what kind of crackers do I eat with my cheese? Club crackers. I like how they're buttery and rich. I could be healthy any day of the week and get some kind of wheat thing, but seriously, I'm eating cheese. And a lot of it. I don't want to be bothered by being healthy during appetizer time.

Trader Joe's Cornbread stuffing Mix - Trader Joe's really has some awesome products, don't they? Their cornbread stuffing is my favorite stuffing. Besides the fact that I like cornbread better than white bread when making stuffing, their seasoning packet is amazing. I make their stuffing into dressing. 3 cups of chicken broth, 2 sweet apple sausages, 5 pieces of bacon, 1 apple, 3 baby bella mushrooms, 1/2 a large onion. Best stuffing ever.

All Natural Cheetos - These are addicting. I think they put crack in them. When Nick is on business, I'll buy a bag and eat the whole thing for dinner, it's not that I plan it that way, it's that you can't stop eating them. Made with white cheddar and therefore not an annoying bright orange color, these Cheetos can be hard to find sometimes. But if you get them for your next party, I guarantee you they will be gone fast. Just don't be fooled, they're still unhealthy it is a chip after all.

Potato Bread - I understand the value of a good whole grain bread, and I do really enjoy it (I'm not all about eating butter and bacon all the time). But there are some times when you need a really good thick soft bread. For example, when making homemade breadcrumbs for the top of your mac and cheese or when making french toast. The type of bread and texture of it really make a difference. If you can't get really good sliced white bread (for example, at our farmer's market there is a bread maker and his white bread puts Wonder Bread to shame), then potato bread is definitely the way to go. It's much heftier than white and sweeter too. And really, for what you're going to be using bread like this for, why do you need to be healthy? It's like going to McDonald's and getting a diet Coke.

Rosemary & Nutmeg - These are my go to spices for just about everything. Rosemary tastes great on chicken, steak, potatoes, squash flavored pastas, and so many other things I make. And as per my Aunt Susie who was married to an Italian, I put nutmeg is all my Italian cooking, and a lot of my other cooking as well. Meatballs, mac & cheese, you name it. It all tastes good.

Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon - Bacon makes everything taste better and the better quality the bacon, the better your food. I really like Applegate Farm's Sunday Bacon. It's smoked (and when you have real smoked bacon and not that poor quality meat you get from Oscar Meyer or Hormel, etc. you really really notice the difference) and less fatty than just about any bacon I have ever tried. I haven't been able to find it since moving to California, and the others just aren't the same.

Bittersweet Herb Farm Smoked Maple Chipotle Sauce - A lot of my recipes require adding some kind of smokey BBQ type sauce. I like to add it to my burgers and meatloaf and lots of other random things. I've tried to find a good supermarket BBQ sauce and none of them have really matched up to this one from Bittersweet Herb Farm. It's thick, sweet, and smokey with just a hint of kick and doesn't have that generic BBQ sauce taste. It's killer in anything that would need a BBQ sauce. It's definitely up a notch, or three.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DIY Wall Art

When Nick and I first moved in together we had just about no wall art. My mother is an artist and made us a few things, but other than that our walls were bare. We lucked out in that the manager of the apartment complex allowed us to paint the walls so we invested in some green grass and bright blue paint. I think if we had to live with bare white walls I would have felt like I was in a hospital.

After we got married we filled up a lot of frames with pictures from that. Suddenly our walls were filled with images of our friends and family and different details of the wedding. When my Grandfather moved out of his apartment, we inherited a few of his paintings and for Christmas we were gifted with two my Granny painted. Our small apartment was full and our home actually looked like a home, albeit a Nick and Lila shrine.

When we moved to California we actually moved into a larger apartment and gained a lot more wall space. Even though we brought all of our old art with us, there were a few spaces in a few rooms that felt like they were missing something, so I tried to think of some ways to fill the space. Then as I unpacked I found some notes cards my Granny made out of her paintings and remembered something I saw in a girl's room in college. She took images she liked out of fashion magazines and framed them to make them look like art. So I decided to frame real art (well, their mini reproductions) in picture frames. One for the bathroom downstairs, and I think I'm going to start a space in the hallway for some postcards from art museums.

It's pretty simple to do. You just pick out a card you like. Center and tape it to the back of the frame and voila! Instant mini wall art for under $10.

Postcard = $.67
Frame = $5.99
I will also buy a mat and redo this one because the frame is a little large for the postcard.

(This is the one my Granny painted.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Album Review: Release Me by the Like

I think it is no secret that I was born in the wrong decade. I love everything 60s, the music, the clothes, the art, you name it. I was really excited in college when fashion started taking it's influences from that time period and it made it easier to find clothes like that. I am no stranger to the thrift store (I'm surprised the ladies at Salvation Army Binghamton didn't know me by my first name), but sometimes it's just easier to get something in my size, that doesn't have to be washed 5 times before I wear it, at the mall.

This year I think my 60s obsession has reached new heights as I've been teaching myself to do the make up, got a new haircut, and have made an effort to dress that way a lot. My tailor told me I looked like Audrey Hepburn and I nearly died. But you want to know a secret? My all time favorite 60s trend were the mods...yeah, I want to go back in time to the early 60s, hop on my scooter, and go live in London.

And you know what hasn't helped this fantasy? The album Release Me by The Like.

Back in college I stumbled upon The Like when I was just clicking around on looking for some interesting music (when they say "You make like this..." sometimes I listen because you never know what gem you'll find). Their first album, Are you thinking what I'm thinking, was very late 90s SoCal influenced, but still good. So I bought it, loved it, and then they dropped off the face of the Earth. Years later, I was at a Futureheads concert and they just happened to open up for them. I was so excited and then this took the stage: and my jaw dropped. Gone were the long hair and hippie clothes, and I liked this much better.

As they proceeded to play and my smile got bigger and bigger I knew I had to go home right away and buy this new album, and when it arrived I listened to it constantly (and still haven't stopped). The songs are very obviously influenced by early-mid 60s rock and girl groups. But it is done in such a way that you know you are listening to a very modern take on them. Infectious pop about time old girl talk, crappy boys, back stabbing friends, and one night stands. It may be a "girl" band, but some guys I know love it too. Release Me is a great album to play if you need a pep while cleaning, cooking, or just want to have a good time with your friends. You can't help but be in a good mood after you listen to it, and maybe want to do the twist or something too.

Standout Tracks: Fair Game, Square One

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Apples and Goat Cheese

Boy, this is really turning into a food blog isn't it?

Last night for dinner I tried out an experiment from Delish, a recipe for stuffed chicken breasts with apples and goat cheese. Generally, I'm not a poultry fan, but I saw apples and goat cheese and I had to try it. Other than the fact that it turned out I do not have a meat tenderizer (which I thought I did have, so I used a pasta jar instead), I think it turned out to be a success. Just let it cool a little bit before you eat it, that cheese gets hot!

Here is the information from their website with my changes:

* 6 large (about 2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
* 3 ounce(s) goat cheese
* 2 teaspoon(s) finely grated lemon rind
* 1 large firm apple, peeled, cored, and shredded (you can do this in your cheese grater or just finely chop it)
* All-purpose flour for dusting
* 1 large egg
* 1 1/3 cup(s) fresh bread crumbs
* 2 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
* 4 tablespoon(s) olive oil


1. Place chicken breasts on a large sheet of waxed paper; cover with another sheet of waxed paper. Pound breasts to a 1/4-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper and season with the pepper and salt.
2. Combine the goat cheese, lemon rind, and apple. Divide apple mixture among the chicken breasts and spread the mixture evenly over half the surface of each breast. Fold each breast in half and press the edges together, forming a pocket.
3. Sprinkle the flour onto a sheet of waxed paper. In a small bowl, combine the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Dust each breast lightly with flour and dip into egg mixture, moistening all surfaces. Coat with bread crumbs, patting the crumbs gently in place. (The chicken can be prepared to this point several hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, bring the chicken to room temperature.)
4. In a large, heavy skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cook until browned and cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beringer, the Disneyworld of Napa

Nick and I have now lived in California for almost 4 months. We are both really into wine, and I come from a long line of winos. And so, embarrassingly enough, just this weekend we finally made it to wine country for the first time. I've only been one time before, and Nick had never gone. When I went last year with my friend, Katrina, we went to the Beringer Estate. After doing a search online they seemed to have the most extensive tours and we wanted to pick a spot that seemed like it had a lot going on. And after experiencing their 30 minutes tour I knew I had to bring Nick back, so this Saturday (despite the dreary looking weather) that's where we headed.

Unfortunately, due to traffic we couldn't get to the winery on time for our tour, so we pushed back to the next one offered and spent a couple hours walking around downtown St. Helena first. The town itself is only a 5 or so blocks long and 2-3 blocks wide. We window shopped all the artsy fartsy stores and antique shops and did some olive oil and vinegar tasting at St. Helena Olive Oil Company and Olivier. Besides some amazing olive oil and vinegar, there was also mustards, tapanades, BBQ sauces, pasta sauces, and a whole host of other things. We ended up buying one or two things from each store (there were so many delicious things we tried, that was a real compromise on our parts). Once we were done there we popped back in the car for a 2 minute drive up the road to Beringer.

Tickets in hand we walked up to the old winery (which also has the gift shop) and tasted some mulled wine while we waited and chatted with the women who worked in the shop. Then our tour guide met us and she took us into the caves . The reason I wanted to take Nick on this tour is because it's very informative. He is a lover of knowledge and specific facts and before we go back to Napa to really have the full experience, I wanted to be able to take him some place where he could learn about the science of the wine industry. We were shown old presses and told about the process of making wine as well as the history of the Beringer family. We got to taste a wine straight out of the barrel (it had only been in there a couple months so it didn't taste much like wine) and were shown the different kinds of vines and explained how the growing season worked as well.

Once we were done in the gardens, we were taken to the Rhine house (which is a huge mansion on the estate built by one of the Beringer brothers):

We had a special room for a private sit down tasting where we learned about the different things to look for in a wine (and why people swirl, smell, swoosh, etc.). Then we tried 4 different varieties, including a special reserve that cost $115 a bottle. I don't like red wine, but I now understand the value of a good bottle because even I thought it was amazing.

Unfortunately, a piece of cheese, a bread stick, and a cracker, was not enough to keep us sober. So after 6 different kinds of wine (which was probably 3-4 glasses) in two hours, we needed to sit for awhile and sober up. We sat in the gardens and watched a gorgeous sunset before we went back into town to have dinner at Cook.

There weren't many restaurant choices within the downtown area (although later when I looked online there are sooooo many within the area). A few really nice ones, a few in the middle, and a few on the more casual end. We opted for Cook because the menu looked delicious. It was a quaint restaurant that served continental food with some French influences. The food was delicious, although the gnocchi with gorgonzola I got was a little bit of a rip off as the plate had barely any food. We were counting on having some leftovers (since we ordered some fried calamari as an appetizer), but I ended up having to eat some of Nick's dinner (which was a whole chicken with polenta, asparagus, some kind of fruit, and other things) to be satisfied. We didn't have any wine, considering the amount we had just drank. For dessert we ordered panna cotta and a date tart. As usual, we picked a restaurant that had locally/ethically grown/raised products and the food was amazing.

Here's some food from their website:

All in all it was a very successful first trip to wine country. Not that I wasn't before, but I am really really looking forward to going back for our anniversary now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Album Review: Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes

Some of you may know this, but for those who don't, I am a music nerd. My father is a musician and from an early age music was pushed on us. Popular artists from the 80s that met his approval like Tears for Fears and Michael Jackson, but then classics like The Beatles (which we're all major fanatics of), Buddy Holly, and The Who as well. For a long time I think that's all my dad and I talked about. Well, really he talked and I listened, soaking up all his knowledge.

That being said, now I like a lot of different kinds of music. I do like pop (Lady Gaga is probably my favorite pop artist right now), but I also listen to a lot of underground and indie music as well. Most of the music recommendations I'll make on here will probably be that kind because let's face it, everyone has heard of Jay-Z, but not many people know who Jenny and Johnny are. Those lesser known bands deserve some attention too.

Today's review is actually of an album that's a little bit old now. It's Fleet Foxes' self titled debut which came out in 2008.

(Reminds me of an old Genesis cover)

The album is part of the neo-folk revival that has been pretty popular in the indie scene the past few years, but this one stands out for me because of the lush harmonies the band members have. The musicianship is obviously there and the use of layers of instruments is the perfect balance to the vocals. Some of the songs could be great pop songs, and some are great folk ballads. Something for everyone!

The video for their debut single, "Winter White Hymnal," is clay-mation and almost reminds me of something Jim Henson would have done in the early-mid 80s and goes with their whole throw back feel.

Regardless of whether or not you're thrown off by the whole hipster vibe that the video gives off, you should still give it a try. The album would make a really great addition to your collection.

Standout tracks: Ragged Wood & Blue Ridge Mountains

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Speaking of twins...

Today is my mother's birthday and she's a twin. This past weekend I stumbled across a video posted to a friend's profile on Facebook about moms of multiples and I sent it to my mom since it was funny. Since then I've watched all the other videos in the poster's collection and find them completely hilarious.

Mompetition is about a mother who has to deal with crazy over protective moms in her attempts to raise her kids the best she knows how to (with common sense). If you ignore the poor animation and computer voices, I think anyone with half a brain who is sick of the "every kid deserves a trophy" mentality of the latest generation will find it funny too. Because seriously, who finds folding laundry and changing poopie diapers a joy?


I know exactly what my mother will say about this, and my husband will probably laugh, but I have a confession to make.

I don't make my bed, pretty much ever. It's ironic considering I am one step away from being a clean freak and I always like things being done the "right" way. When I was younger I used the excuse that I didn't see what the point was when I was just going to sleep in it again soon anyway. Even now I only make it look nice when we're having company over for some special occasion.

But seriously, when this is what you wake up to everyday, why would you want to disturb the calm dream state these two cuties are in?

Let them snuggle in peace!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cranberry Apple Pear Crumble

A couple of months ago, when we had some guests for the weekend, I came up with a nice dessert for the four of us. Quick, easy, very customizable, and of course delicious! Seems like it would make an even better dessert now that the nights are getting chilly here. And I think this would also make a really good pie filling.

Serves: 4

What you need:

For the insides:
-2 chopped apples (I used one Gala and one Red Delicious)
-1 chopped pear
-1/4 cup dried cranberries
-1/4 cup of sugar
-1/4 to 1/3 cup of flour (Adding more flour will make the juices thicker, so this depends on how thick you like you filling to be.)
-1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumble:
-4 tbsp softened butter
-2 tbsp white sugar
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-4 tbsp flour
-1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees.

2. Mix the ingredients for all the insides together in a large bowl then split them up amongst 4 ramekins.

3. Mix the ingredients for the crumble together and top evenly among the ramekins.

4. Place the four ramekins on a cookie baking sheet (for easier clean up and transporting in and out of the oven). Bake until the crumble starts to brown.

5. Optional, top with one scoop of ice cream! (We did heath bar crunch.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Decorating for the Holidays

I guess I'm a little late on this considering Hanukkah is already almost over, but better late than never!

We transformed our apartment from Thanksgiving to Christmas themed the day after Black Friday. Unfortunately, because we won't be here Christmas morning we didn't buy a Christmas tree. The extent of the decorating consists of a lawn ornament, wreath, lights & some ornaments in the window, and a few knick-knacks placed around downstairs. Last year on the other hand we went all out because we hosted Christmas at our place back East. We hung up garland and set up a really nice tablescape too. I think it'll be awhile before we get to do that again...

Since we aren't really getting into the decorating this year, I lived vicariously by going to Crate and and picking out my favorite decorations they have for the season. It's cheaper that way, anyway. Haha.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday gift ideas

I have to admit, I am completely done with my Christmas shopping. What can I say, I am a freak. I do all my shopping as early as possible this way when the holiday season comes if I think of something last minute that's it. No going crazy, waiting on long lines, and being stressed for me!

I don't want to reveal anything that I got for anyone, but if I had to think of some cool ideas to give as gifts this year I might think of these.

For my brother (who is a HUGE LOLcats fan):

$9.99 from

When you're recently married (or have kids) you can never have too many picture frames. This one is perfect if your wedding was earthy themed, or you're the groom and you want a frame that's not too fancy pants:

$14.99 from

For the foodie/person who has everything:

Wine Country Gift baskets range in price from under $25 to above $200.

For my mom:

$13 from mylavaliere (my favorite Etsy store EVER)

For the fashionista who wants to protect her designer bags:

$9.99 from

From my Dad (a Beatles fanatic):

$27.94 from

For little kids:

This was one of my favorite toys growing up. My mom and I still buy them for all the little kids in our lives. $24.95 from

For your Ipod/Iphone addict:

Earbuds are $20, case is $25 from Neiman Marcus

For Nick:

$17.99 from Amazon

For me? I've been watching these booties from Modcloth for awhile (and psst. Nick, they're back in stock!)


I couldn't find any pictures, but The Gap also has great sunglasses right now that are Ray Ban style for $24.50. They come in blue, green, purple, orange, red, pink, and a few other colors. A must have for all the teens/hipsters in your life.

If you're still stuck, try looking at wishlists and reading this older entry about how to give a good gift. Maybe it'll help spark an idea.
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