Last night I was practically glued to the television for the 62nd annual Emmy’s! Though I don’t watch a lot of TV, I do love watching award shows and especially love the pre-show red carpet bonanza.
There were so many beautiful people and I was right there with the commentators analyzing and fawning over all the dresses. I have to say that my absolute favorite for the night was Claire Danes.
She glimmered and sparkled like a chandelier on the red carpet in this gorgeous Georgio Armani Privé gown. The gown was encrusted with Swarovski crystals and all-over sequin beading. I may have exclaimed from my couch, “I want to wear that right now!” She looked just lovely and walked away with an Emmy for her performance in the HBO miniseries Temple Grandin.
If you watched… which dresses caught your eye??
Gap’s Give & Get Program starts today.
Now’s your opportunity to do a little shopping for yourself while doing a little good for others.
So go ahead…
Get that end-of-summer frock from Banana Republic, but feed the hungry while doing so.
Splurge on yourself while supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The sale lasts through August 29th.
The charities supported also include Big Brother Big Sister, the World Wildlife Fund, and Teach for America
So get shoppin’ and get givin’!
The other evening I got sucked into the Dr. Oz show for a few minutes. (I know, my lameness quotient has just skyrocketed.) The good doctor was doing a special on everyday products in your home that could be considered “toxic.” One big culprit is cleaning products. I do love a strong cleaner, but when a product comes with a warning that you should only use it if you’ve got a window open and shouldn’t use it if you’ve got small children or pets, that might just suggest you’ve got something on your hands that could be harmful to your own health too.
He suggested an alternative, homemade cleaner that sounds pretty simple. It takes a few minutes to mix on your own, but it’s certainly less toxic than some of the “heavy duty” stuff we may not think twice about using.
- 1 tbsp of Borax powder (find it in the laundry aisle of your supermarket)
- 3 tbsps of white vinegar
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of dish soap
- 1 drop of essential oil such as peppermint for fragrance (optional)
Pour it into a spray bottle you bought at the hardware store, give it a shake, and you are ready to clean.
I cannot speak to its efficacy yet but I plan to give it a whirl this week and will let everyone know whether this leaves my place sparkling clean!
A couple weeks ago, a few of us were chuckling (while vigorously nodding our heads) listening to Jeff Deck on NPR. For all those wordsmiths, editors, and grammar lovers, Jeff Deck and his friend, Benjamin D. Herson, were a breath of fresh air. They traveled the country with a sign editing kit correcting errors from misspellings to superfluous apostrophes. They’ve published a book on the project that I plan on purchasing. I have a feeling that reading about their corrections will somehow help me sleep better. Though I’m sure their journey has not stopped with this book publication, I think it should be a message to us all – always have a red pen on hand. This morning when I checked the weather on my weather website of choice, I was confronted with an advertisement that made me laugh. Though writing “awk” on my computer screen does not do much good, it’s a start!
Feeling social? Check out LivingSocial.com and sign up for their daily deals.
You don’t have to be an official socialite to join, you just have to like saving money and enjoying things around your city. Sound like fun? Yes it does.
Living Social provides you with a daily deal, offered through their site by a local business establishment. Living Social deals are offered in just about every city we live in (Chicago, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington DC… San Jose coming soon!). Usually the deal has to do with something social, but the specific deal or event in your city varies from day to day.
The deals cover the whole gamut, ranging from restaurants, salons and spas, to pottery-making, photography, golf lessons, and even horseback riding! It’s a great resource to find a good deal and to learn about what’s going on in your own city!
I used it to get 55% off of pilates lessons at Mighty Pilates in San Francisco. I had never taken a machine-based pilates class before, and had never heard of this pilates studio that recently opened. But thanks to Living Social I am on my way to becoming an “intermediate” on the tower and the Allegro machine. Sweet!
It’s also a great tool to learn about what’s going on in other people’s cities… and wonderful for gift ideas!
For example, Living Social told me about a cute little wine bar in Washington DC called Vinoteca. I checked it out online and saw that they offered wine tasting classes. When I realized that it was just a few blocks from Elizabeth & Adam’s place, voila! Birthday present for Elizabeth!
So, sign up for the daily deal and get social!
Let’s face it, it’s been a hot summer for most of you.
Most days all you want is ice cold water, watermelon, or ice cream. Or all three at once!
But for those of you who work in an office, or those of us living in San Francisco (where it’s been a miserable 58 degrees most days), you may be freezing during the workday!
I say: Resist the Snuggie! Request cashmere instead. 😉
Seriously, even during summer months you may find a need for a sweater that you can wear around the office. You’d like to not be freezing, but you’d also like to look like a grown-up, thankyouverymuch.
I’ve collected a few sweaters that I thought might do the trick to keep you cozy but not looking like an infomercial. In my opinion, cashmere is the best to strike this balance. But, it’s not always “in season,” or in budget, so the collection includes a little of everything.
Here’s a pretty little cashmere sweater from J.Crew that can keep you lookin pulled together.
Or you could try a White & Warren Cashmere Twist Top (not pictured) or this one, that’s on sale!
Or go a little ruffly with the Modcloth Nightfall Cardigan, or this beautiful Subra Sweater by All Saints (shown below)
I also love this long buttoned cardigan from BR (shown on the right), which looks lightweight and perfectly packable for your summer tote!
Here are a few more sweaters I found that are reasonably priced and office appropriate
This past weekend, a few friends & family members came over and we served them Torre’s tremendous truffle fries! While we watched UFC 117, we enjoyed three varieties of french fries with a spread of dipping sauces. The fries were surprisingly easy to make!
First, we tried out some regular fries, just to get us into the french fry groove.
These were incredibly simple: frozen crinkle-cut fries, olive oil, chopped up garlic, and parsley.
Mix ’em up in a bowl, throw them on a cookie sheet, and cook for 20-25 minutes at 450 degrees (turning once).
Feeling comfortably in french-fry mode, Torre the Fry-Master made the Truffle Fries!
Torre combined this truffle goodness with garlic and parsley and tossed it all in a bowl with julienne cut frozen fries.
Again, these fries take about 20-25 minutes in the oven, depending on how soft or crunchy you prefer your pommes frites.
Last, we got crazy with sweet potato fries. These don’t need much seasoning.
We used frozen sweet potato fries, mixed with olive oil, salt and cinnamon!
These cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (a slightly lower cooking temperature but the same amount of cooking time as the other two types of fries above).
All of the fries went well with an array of dipping sauces.
Torre made the roasted red pepper mayo earlier in the afternoon by combining:
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup of jarred roasted red pepper
- 1 clove coarsely chopped garlic
These three ingredients all go into a food processor – pulsed together on and off until smooth. This comes out nice and colorful, and flavorful too!
By the end of the night all of the fries had magically disappeared and all were impressed with Torre’s mad culinary skills and the powerful flavor of truffles.
Here is the main event, the reason we went, the end all be all of the trip: Talula’s Table. Talula’s Table is a great little market/cafe/restaurant just outside of Philadelphia in the Kennett Square area. If you were to pass this place from the sidewalk or see it from your car, you might think it is just a small market or cafe. The store front is quaint as is the inside, right down to the store clerks who are all wearing their own old fashioned, I’m pretty sure my grandma had that, adorable, country fashionable aprons. Even better than the decor is the stock that fills the shelves. From preserves and raw, local honey, to mustard (flavored with basil or black currant), to fresh pastas. And many, many cheeses. When we were there, a beautiful homemade cake was on display by the register that smelled of its coconut and lemon ingredients. The rustic icing and bright color made it hard not to ask for a slice. But I held back as we were there to experience the August tasting menu.
That’s right – Talula’s Table also serves dinner. There are only two tables inside Talula’s. One is in the main store area, a beautiful old wooden table that seats 12 and the other is in the kitchen with seating for 8. Both are highly coveted and, needless to say, difficult to reserve. Around this time last year, Julie was on the phone at 7am each morning to reserve the main table. After regularly missing the table by a minute, she explained her dilemma to the person on the phone(this was, of course, a gift to Jen for her birthday). It was then that she found out about the kitchen table and booked it for August 7, 2010. And so it was.
We started with some hors d’oeuvres (and a crisp prosecco):
First (and from left to right) came a lobster blt. Though, when making lobster, bacon might not readily come to mind, the combination was in perfect agreement. I would say that the bite size rolls were just a little bit bigger than an actual bite size, making it somewhat hard to eat. Next came bbq duck on a crostini. Not too complicated but oh so tasty. To round the hors d’oeuvres off was tuna topped with a pickle in a puff pastry. Those were delightful and confirmation that pickles and tuna are friends. After enjoying these little bites, we were escorted into the kitchen where it was nice and warm. Talula’s is byo so all of the wines we had brought were either open on the table (if they were reds) or chilled and ready to be poured in the fridge (if they were white).
We started with a chardonnay that complimented the crab galette and heirloom tomato salad. There was a foam tartar sauce in the middle of the plate that was tasty – a not entirely useless foam.
Next came the corn soup which was rich and delicious. It had surprise whole pieces of corn to crunch into that embodied the flavors of summer in a soup (oxymoron?). The scallop in the center was excellent – this coming from a scallop lover who hates it when a scallop isn’t cooked well. Interestingly, the scallop was not your normal scallop – it was a kind of scallop sausage. The technique is basically the same as making a sausage – chopping the scallops raw, encasing them, cutting, searing, serving. Different and almost unnoticed. A lick the bowl soup.
The next dish obviously made me think of the Pixar movie that we all love, Ratatouille. Though it looked nothing like what the little rat serves to the big Ego critic, this ratatouille was a table favorite. I was actually craving it on Monday at lunch.
Jen, Adam, and I agreed that this would also be a dish that, were it on a regular menu, would be excellent as a side to a tasty meat or, if it were a little larger, a great vegetarian stand alone dish.
And I have to say it…Anyone can cook!
Ok back to the meal. Following the ratatouille was rockfish with clams and chanterelles. The topping of celery gave a nice crunch and freshness to the fish. It was also excellent, but I have to admit that I forgot about it when we were recapping the meal on Sunday. As we moved on to the red wines, out came the pork belly. I think the table was split on this. Adam and I said it wasn’t our favorite. Jen and Julie were bigger fans. It’s hard not to like pork belly so that’s not to say that this was bad, it just wasn’t the winner of my night.Now the bison might actually take that first place prize (with the soup and ratatouille in a close second place fight). We were all so full by the time we got this plate and could not imagine wanting to eat another thing.
Then this beautifully medium bison is in front of us, with just a touch of mashed potatoes, a crisp almost elegant (if it can be) onion ring and a fresh cole slaw. A light horseradish sauce drizzled the plate. The bison was melt in your mouth tender and absolutely decadent with some mashed potatoes on the fork as well. I can’t say I’m one of those people who loves and orders cole slaw everywhere or is by any means a cole slaw connoisseur (even being from Pittsburgh), but this one was just fantastic. Not too much sauce, a great crunch to counter the tender meat and potatoes. Before I knew it I had finished my plate!
Despite our busting bellies and our excellent wine drinking powers, there were still two plates left in the evening. We rallied with some espresso shots and dove in to the finale. The cheese plate had a great variety and lovely sampling of some mustards, honey, and preserves from the front of their store. And the cantelope soup was a refreshingly light ending (though most of us were not into the terrine).
All in all we enjoyed an excellent meal with a couple bottles of wine leftover that went to the chefs as a thank you for lettings us crash the kitchen. If you are planning a Philadelphia trip, be sure to call them for a reservation, or at least stop by the store for some goodies. Bon appetit!
This weekend Adam and I went up to Philly.
The purpose of the trip will come later, for now I will share with you the excellent dinner that Jen and Julie prepared for us on Friday evening.
Jen has become somewhat of a pizza making guru. She’s made different sorts of doughs, one of which is a Mario Batali recipe. For this dinner she chose a new dough from Smitten Kitchen (a combination of Smitten Kitchen’s “standby” and Batali’s).
Since there were 8 people at dinner she doubled the recipe to make four pizzas.
After rolling out the dough, Julie grilled each for about 10 minutes. They come out nice and crisp and fluffy – looking almost like naan. The dough can also be baked in the oven, along with the pizzas. Try both ways to find which you like.
To these, Jen added her sauce:
Saute 2 medium onions in some olive oil and chili flakes. Add 3 cloves of grated onion and 3 grated carrots. Let everyone have a good sweat in there. Add a can of tomato paste, season with salt and pepper. This will caramelize for a few minutes. Then add about 1.5-2 cups red wine (a Malbec was the choice of the night). Let this reduce until it is almost gone.
Then add 3 cans of crushed tomatoes. Bring the mix to a simmer and walk away for about 25-30 minutes. Friday, when Jen returned to the sauce to taste for seasoning, she decided it needed a little extra something. She added about 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, adding a nice depth of flavor to compliment the tomatoes and wine. She promptly tore up some fresh basil and let the sauce simmer for another 30 minutes. You can leave this sauce off the heat after this for as long as you like that day (while you’re running errands, this sauce will do nothing but get tastier as all the ingredients interact). Put leftovers in the fridge four about a week and a half. There is also the option to blend the sauce if you prefer a smooth pizza sauce (Jen used an immersion blender, but a regular blender or food processor also works).
After the dough was off the grill it got sauced, literally. We made two different kinds of pizza:
One was fresh tomatoes, slices of fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil. The aroma was delightful both raw and cooked.
The second was shredded mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, and some browned sopressata (option for pepperoni or prosciutto here also).
These were then put back on the grill for another 5 minutes. Alternatively you can preheat your oven to 400 deg, with the baking sheet inside (this helps to crisp the crust).
Roll out the dough, put on the sprayed baking sheet and top quickly. Smitten Kitchen and others advise cornmeal instead of cooking spray for your baking sheet. This is fine but be careful of the cornmeal that does not touch the pizza as it will burn and likely set off some smoke detectors. Bake for about 12 minutes.
We added a light Caesar salad to this meal, with plenty of wine and beer to go around. All in all, it was a perfect way to end a traffic ridden drive to Philly.
It never hurts to save your pennies. I have recently stumbled across a really great way to save both money AND time (hooray!). I am using Amazon.com’s subscription services to purchase certain household items and grocery goodies.
My foray into the subscription services starts with everything from paper towels to plastic baggies, laundry detergent, and Builder’s bars for Torre. It works by “subscribing” for a bulk purchase at given intervals (1 month, 2 months, even 6 months). If you subscribe, you save about 15% on nearly every item. Just like at Costco, by buying in bulk, you save (15% adds up quickly!). And with Amazon you don’t have to worry about going to Costco – it’s delivered to your doorstep! Hello saving time and money.
Amazon seems to have just about everything you might want. In fact, it seems to have something for everyone!
There’s so much more, too! I encourage you to explore and take advantage of this super saving opportunity!