Monday, August 31, 2009

Did you feel it?

It was the first hint of fall. I felt a chill this morning when I stepped outside. I l.o.v.e. fall. By far my favorite season.

And instead of using words - let's use pictures.

Must I continue...

Okay, I digress. That last one has nothing to do with fall. He's just my favorite part of any season.

Soooo, excited yet?

Friday, August 28, 2009

A great compliment

Last night we had dinner at Maggiano's with 16 friends. And we ate. And ate. And ate. I am still full this morning. I don't think I'll eat the rest of the weekend. And I'm going to need to bust it on the ellipitcal this weekend to make up for it.

But hey, if you can't enjoy great food with great friends every so often, what's the point?

Well sometime during dinner, my favorite bronze Jack Rogers sandals met their unfortunate demise. The leather that goes between the big toe to seal the strap to the bottom of the shoe broke. I had them for more than 2 years... I suppose it was time to say goodbye.

Our friend Emily told me to go to a shoe repair shop, as they could probably replace it for like $7. I told her it wasn't a big deal, it is probably time for a fresh pair anyway. However Chad told me if I at least attempted to get the shoes repaired (not to let a fine pair go to waste), he would still let me buy another pair.

I said, "SOLD."


So I'll be on a lookout for a shoe repair shop. But this morning, I did some stellar research and found out I could get a new pair of Jacks on shoes.com for 15% off + free shipping. So I got my $96 pair of sandals for $81.20. And I got them in platinum - so I got a new color.

I was quite proud of this feat and blackberry messaged (BBMed for those in the know) Chad to let him know the great news. His response:

"I'm so proud. Honey you're such a great online shopper."

I'm proud of myself. I am NOT good for hu
nting for bargains out in stores, but online I'm phenomenal. A tip for you - NEVER buy something online without first googling the store name + promo code. (ex. J.Crew promo code) Most online sites frequently have active coupon or promo codes you can enter in at check out to get at LEAST some percentage off and often free shipping. I try to never buy online unless I can use a coupon code.

However, I'd rather be run over with a mack truck than try to hunt through a rack of unorganized clothes at Marshall's or TJMax for a good bargain. For me online = sale shopping. In stores = I'll take the easy way out.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

And because I don't do it enough...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

...to my loyal blog readers. It means so much to me that so many of you enjoy reading these little snippets of my life. It is fun to share with you, and I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

And as always, I welcome your comments and posts. I'm always open to critique, and am happy to hear if there is anything particular you'd like me to blog about.

Guest post: from PLT's mother

Got this email from my mom... just thought I'd cut and paste in its entirety:

------------------------------------

I have an idea for you for a blog. First, let me just remark that WordMonkey on iGoogle: c'est cool.

You type in a word or phrase and pick the language(s) to translate it to/from. There are other tools out there but this one is so easy to use and, to be honest, a little süchtig.

But back to my idea. I find it interesting that words often sound so much kinder and/or less harsh in other languages. Maybe it's related to the American fascination with foreign accents. But here are some examples:

Large (as on your clothing tag) sounds so much nicer in other languages: French: grand, Spanish: grande, Italian is the best: grandi. "You are so grand," sounds so complimentary doesn't it?

Computer in Spanish: computadora. How cute is that?

Rags in French is chiffons. If someone said to you: "vos vêtements ressemblent à des chiffons" (your clothes look like rags!) would you ever even imagine you had just been insulted? No, and especially if uttered by someone with a cute little accent, you'd likely say, blushing and with eyelashes fluttering, "well thank you!"

However, some words seem to be the same or similar the world over:
Jerk is jerk (or close to it) the world over. jerk (French and Italian), ruck (German), imbécil (Spanish)

And cool is just cool is almost any language: cool (French), fresco (Italian), kühl (German)

Speaking of cool, there is not a single cool or clever or creative thing about English letters. So many other languages have such intéressant accent marks (apparently also called diacritical marks):

français
fête
niño
späetzle
αγαπημένο

But we've got nothing! I think that's why we overuse things like underlining, italics, caps, and silly happy faces. We're bored to tears! :-(

Uh oh, something just occurred to me. Grandmother. You know that I've already been worried about that name, and for no apparent reason. So now I get that it really means large mother. This is a horrible revelation and I refuse to ever be called LARGE MOTHER, even if your future child tries to make it cute and says "grandi-madre." I swear I will ignore the adorable, but cheeky child. Hmph! (translated is the same in any language.)

Love,
Äiti

-----------------------------------

However, I don't find this WordMonkey so helpful... especially when you are unsure what language you are translating from. Mom tried to be quippy and sign it "
Äiti" - but since I have no clue what that means, nor what language it is, I am left at a lost. And WordMonkey is unable to help!

But enjoy mom's post! And let me know if WordMonkey works for you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And the idiot of the day...

I'll try to keep this rant short and sweet.

Rick Pitino is an idiot.

I could probably just stop there, but I wont. Okay, so this is a guy who CHEATS on his wife and the PAYS said woman to have an ABORTION so no one finds out about HIS indiscretion.

Yet today, he essentially blames the media for making life 'pure hell' for his family. Wow, way to be accountable Rick. Not that I don't think its pretty slimy to have the reporters drag this obviously personal issue out into the media, but hey, he obviously wasn't too worried about it when he decided to have sex with a woman who was not his wife in a restaurant.

This really sucks. I actually loved him as a coach.

Goodbye sweet summer

Even though I don't get a summer vacation anymore, I am very much aware of "summer" working at a university. When I started - wow, I guess almost exactly a year ago - I was told that summers tend to be slow for our office... since most of the research professors take the summers off, there isn't a lot of new research coming out that we need to write about.

However, with several interesting developments that happened earlier in the summer, we were definitely kept busy for a good portion of it. Things slowed down towards the end, but now with the first full week of students back on campus, we are bustling with work!

I'm writing about all sorts of cool research, handling some interesting media events, and scheduling tons of interviews. Personally, I work better when I'm pushed to the limit.
However, after a couple more weeks of this I'll be aching for lazy summer days to return!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Flower child

It is amazing to me the things that get men really fired up.

Yesterday I blogged about our dinner with David and Jamie. That same night, our friend Stephen was also in attendance. After dinner, we were bad and went to Goodberry's for DELICIOUS frozen custard. I got a mini vanilla custard with malt powder and marshmellow. It was heavenly.

While enjoying our treat, Jamie noticed the sweetest little baby in line being held by her dad. She had this
precious little flower headband on. I would have grabbed her and ran if it wasn't a felony. Why did my parents have to raise me with morals?!

So Jamie and I started cooing about how precious it was. The boys all a sudden got VERY vocal about their extreme dislike over large flowers on the heads of children.

Comments were along these lines...
"That is so freaking stupid. Who does that?!"

"It's a BABY. Not a flower."
"If I was the dad, I would have yanked it off her head before taking her out in public."
"It's like that Anne Geddes woman that takes picture of kids sitting in flo
wer pots. Or dressed like vegetables!"
"I will NEVER let my baby wear that." (I do recall this little pearl coming from my husband. To which I responded: When you birth one, then I'll let you decide if she can wear a flower headband or not.)

And the conversation didn't stop there. The WHOLE ride home Chad and Stephen continued to talk about how stupid it was.


Back at the house, Jamie pulled up our favorite Etsy site to show me the two PRECIOUS flower headbands she bought for AB from My Bella Bows.

This one...


ooooh and this one.

The boys viewed the pictures just shaking their heads. I, however, am so excited to see her wear them I can barely stand it. So is the flower bow a battle of the sexes? If so, I betcha Mommy is going to win.

PS: AB + flower headband pics will be posted as soon as possible.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This is your brain; This is your brain on baby.

You've heard the stories that women actually lose brain cells while pregnant. You know, pregnancy brain? When our friends David+Jamie were pregnant with little Annabelle, David frequently mentioned this little tidbit to us... much to Jamie's chagrin I'm sure.

I didn't think much of it at first, but all of a sudden I noticed Jamie would ask us the same questions over and
over.

Example:

Jamie: "Hey! Do y'all watch American Idol?"
Me: "No, we haven't really gotten into it. I watched like one season but that's it. We have our other shows."

...the next week...

Jamie: "Hey! Do y'all watch American Idol?"
Me: "No, we don't really watch it..." (figuring once I responded she'd probably remember already asking me so why shame her anymore)

...the next week...

Jamie: "So who are you pulling for on American Idol?"
Me: "Jamie! We don't watch it... remember?"
Jamie (look of confusion): "Ah sorry. I really do forget things a lot lately."

...the NEXT week...

Jamie: "So what did you guys think about last night's American Idol?"
Me (incredulous): "Jamie!!!! Do you not remember asking us this like every week!"

It was AWESOME. It was like groundhog day... except with pregnancy + American Idol. To her credit, I think American Idol was the only thing she'd ask me about weekly. And I'm not even joking - it really was like 4 weeks in a row... we always met for dinner on Thursday nights at this great Mexican place near us. I'd just wait until the AI questioning would begin!

So anyway, this was brought back to my attention when at dinner at a lovely little sushi joint on Friday Jamie said:

"Guess what!? I remembered that you were gone to Charleston last week on my own!!!"

My girl is back!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Score!

As I've mentioned, I have been on the lookout for items to decorate my new (whenever it happens) house. I got my new issue of Pottery Barn the other day, was casually flipping through and found the EXACT window treatments I've been wanting. I'm so, so excited. I'm hoping to have some cute kitchen windows in which to hang these drapes:

Yellow toile roman shades: check! Best part is, Chad gave me the "Okay. I like those too." Yippee!

Next step, this bedding:


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spaaaaaah

The other night driving home from somewhere with Chad, he said the words I long for him to speak.

Not, "I love you." Not, "You look gorgeous tonight." Not, "I'm the luckiest man alive to have married you."

Nope. He said, "Want to go get massages this weekend?"

Then the angels starting singing. I have this semi-obsession with massages, spas, being pampered, etc. Shocking isn't it? I'm just a spa girl, I guess. I'm the person that pays extra to get waxed at a spa instead of a hair/nail salon just so I can sit in the special room, listen to calming music and drink herbal teas.

Chad has been super stressed out from work lately - which is why he probably really needs a massage. He just knows better than to try to get one without me. If I were selfless I'd say, "Oh no honey... let's save the money. You can go get one...I'll be fine."

It's just that I really, really, really want to go too. I'll save selfless for something else.

Is it just me...

...or does Top Chef contestant Ashley Merriman:look just like my fave singer Ryan Adams?:


Maybe it is just me. These pics don't do the comparison justice, but I was distracted watching last night's episode to figure out if 1) Ashley was a man or woman, and thinking 2) Holy crap Ashley looks just like Ryan Adams.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Please pack your knives...


I'm giving you fair warning. Be in front of your TV tonight or have your DVR set to record Bravo at 9 p.m EST.

Tonight is the season premier of one of my favorite TV shows...

Top Chef

If you haven't watched it before, I suggest you start tonight. It is friggin' awesome. Unless you hate food. In which case you should unsubscribe to my blog and go jump off a cliff. Just kidding about the cliff part... kinda. Not kidding about unsubscribing to my blog... no food haters allowed.

Oh yes, and unless you're already watching it, you've missed the vast majority of Top Chef spinoff, Top Chef Masters. It is even better. If Hubert Keller or Rick Bayless don't win, I may cry. So while you're adding shows to your DVR, add Top Chef Masters as well. I'm sure they'll rerun episodes...

You're welcome, punks.

Turkey switch

Now, my husband is a man's man meat eater. He could eat nothing but beef and pork every day and be fine with it. I've mentioned before that Chad fights me over trying to "get rid of all the good (=bad for you) food" at the house... so many things have been a slow progression. Subbing reduced fat sour cream (compromise for my fat free and his full fat), or 1% milk (instead of skim or 2%). A lot of these issues were met with "Ugh! This is going to be disgusting." I made him try it and promised if he absolutely hated it, we'd figure something out. Luckily, as well as I can remember, he's never had a complaint. You usually can't even taste a difference (especially if it's used in a recipe).

But I won't lie. Sometimes I've been a little sneaky. There have been times that I've subbed something he said he "doesn't like" and he never even knows the difference. I've learned that other women do this too.

Our small group at church is having a "social" next week - and we're going to do a taco bar. I emailed the group asking if instead of bringing ground beef, I could bring ground turkey. If you haven't tried turkey tacos, I suggest you do so immediately. Even Chad has admitted he now prefers ground turkey to ground beef (at least in tacos). However I felt I had to preface my email explaining that ground turkey is so delish, you won't know the difference, etc. (Knowing some of the men in our group are die-hard red meat eaters.)

Here is the response I got from a small group friend, Moriah:

Carrie!!! You are ruining my secret. I switched us off ground beef to ground turkey a while back. I use ground beef sometimes, but I’m not sure Chris (her husband) knows when I do and don’t!

I took the guys off the email so my secret can still be safe in my household!

There is just something satisfying in pulling the wool over our husbands' eyes. I'm glad it's not just me. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

House Excitement

No... we have not sold our house yet. We've had plenty of showings, so hopefully we're not too far away. But I have found a neighborhood that I really, really, really love. There are several houses available that we are interested in, so hopefully there will be some good choices once our house sells.

But just thinking about moving in a new house has got me all excited. I didn't really decorate our townhouse that much - knowing that is was a temporary situation. I put up whatever I left like, but made sure most of our big purchases were neutral so I could work them into a new house.

I really want to do pretty blues and yellows in my kitchen, with decorative copper pots hanging from the walls. The downstairs - think French country, toile, nautical stripes, trellis patterns, etc. Less modern - more warm and cozy. And if I can have a chandelier in every room, I want to. ;)

I've already started trolling Etsy, West Elm, Coco Cozy, Country Living and other sites for inspiration.

Will keep you posted as things move along!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mike Vick

I've been chomping at the bit to write a blog post about the Michael Vick situation... however Chad convinced me not to do it on vacation and to wait until I was back home. It has been so interesting to see everyone's thoughts on Vick's return to the NFL. The vast majority of comments I've seen from people are that they are up in arms about how the NFL would let him return after his jail sentence.

So here is my $0.04.

I'll start b
y stating:
1) I am a dog person... had dogs growing up, want one now, think they're the most wonderful animal in the world.

2) I think people that treat dogs like they are humans need to get a grip. Yes dogs are to be loved - no your dog is not your child/best friend/spouse/etc. Which leads me to...
3) Humans > Dogs

Michael Vick did a horrible, awful, no-good thing. Dogs are defenseless creatures, and there is no excuse for abusing one. Ever. I completely agree his behavior was deplorable.

That said, I do not understand all these people who are FURIOUS the NFL would allow Vick to return after completing his sentence. If you want to argue that the NFL needs to clean up its image in general - I would not argue with that. I actually agree with it. Let the commissioner make a ruling that ANY player who has been charged with any sort of violent crime or felony will be kicked out of the NFL and not be allowed to return.

But as it stands now, there are (I would venture to guess) hundreds of NFL players who have assaulted PEOPLE, attacked their WIVES, beat their GIRLFRIENDS, abused their children, among other serious crimes. And they have all been allowed to return. And it seems most people don't care much about that. Right now, Donte Stallworth might be allowed to return after he KILLED a person while driving drunk.

If we want to clean up the NFL - let's start with those players who have caused serious injury or death to humans. Then we can move on from there.

(PS: Since I know many of you probably disagree with me on this point, can you at least give me props for having the guts to write on such controversial topics?!) ;)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hellloooooooo Charleston!

Well, my friends, I will be blogless until next week. I'm heading to Charleston, SC for five days with my husband and in-laws. I am super excited - Charleston is one of my favorite places in the U.S. I know we're doing a yacht dinner cruise one night, and having dinner at Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) another... but other than that, I'm out of the loop. My m-i-l has been busy planning away... and I can't wait to see what is in store.

I'm hoping on her agenda is time at Isle of Palms, she crab soup in the courtyard of 82 Queen, shopping on King Street, tours of the Battery, lunch at Jestine's, and coconut cake at Peninsula Grill (for Kel and Ian).

Hopefully will have some great blog material when I return!

Until then, enjoy some pictures of my soon-to-be vacation spot...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I just looked at my calendar and realized I'm going to be out of town five out of the next nine weekends.

Charleston, SC
Washington, DC
Annapolis, MD
Holden Beach, NC
Charlotte, NC

That exhausts me thinking about it.

He speaks the truth

Me: "I want to go to South Point Mall tomorrow."

Chad: "What do you need to get?"

Me: "Well, I'd like to look at clothes. It's tax-free weekend!"

Chad: "Soooo... if you spend $100, how much money does that save you?"

Me: "Um.... like $7."

Got me. Is it really that good of a deal for a shopping spree? Not really. Glad I have a man that brings my back to earth sometimes. I'll just wait for a J.Crew Final Sale.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Songs to Download

I kinda like doing these Download Fridays. Hopefully you have found some good jams from them.

In honor of the Coldplay concert - which was awesome - here are my top 5 songs from last night's show... a couple of which are my general favorites.

Coldplay - Lost
Coldplay - Lovers in Japan
Coldplay - Politik
Coldplay - The Scientist
Coldplay - Fix You

Friday, ohhhhh Friday

I'm going to Tarantino this story for you - in that I'll start with the end and then walk you through it.

My husband apparently takes 20-some minute showers.

So this morning I get up about 5 minutes early - per usual since I treat myself to an Iced Dunkin Decaf on Fridays - but especially impressive since I was at the Coldplay concert last night and didn't get to bed until midnight. (*note: I am NOT a night owl)

I do my normal getting ready, trying to stay as quiet as possible as to not wake Chad up... since he has off Fridays during the summer. Jealous? Me too. Needless to say, he wakes up anyway and as I'm finishing up, he's hoping in the shower... time: let's say 7:22.

Here is where we run into problems. I have three purses that I use in regular rotation... two that I use most often for work. My tan Hobo - with coordinating brown Tom Ford sunglasses - and my black Kate Spade - with coordinating black Chanel glasses. Each purse also has its own lotion, gum, business cards, and other necessities. I only need to remember to transfer my wallet, phone and keys. Usually not a big deal.

Well this morning I forgot my keys. I leave the house, manually lock the bottom lock (since Chad is at the house). When I get to my car and hunt for my keys it dawns on me that I didn't change them from my other purse. Time check: 7:27. I run back to the house and begin ringing to doorbell.

And ringing.

And ringing.

And ringing.

And of course during this whole time I am stewing because 1) It is a Friday morning and I have to go to work, 2) I was up late last night and was doubly grouchy, and 3) I wanted my dang coffee.

FINALLY, at 7:41 Chad gets out of the shower and the seas part, birds dance, and his FREAKING EARS START WORKING. He hears my relentless ringing and comes to unlock the door. Of course I scream, "How freaking long are your showers?!?!?!?!" He certainly does not take that long when I'm home. I'm a woman for goodness sake - with shaving to do, face to exfoliate, and conditioner that I leave in for about 5 minutes- and it has NEVER takes me that long. Sheesh!

So needless to say, it has been an interesting start to my Friday. If this is any indication of the weekend, maybe I'll have some good posts coming!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mom, please never be this person...

A little laughter for your Thursday morning. I found this entry on one of my favorite funny sites - awkwardfamilyphotos.com.

If you've never visited it before, I suggest you start.

Awkward Family Story: The Thanksgiving Letter

July 1st, 2009

From: Marney

As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.

Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.

All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.

HJB—Dinner wine

The Mike Byron Family
1. Turnips in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. Please do not fill the casserole all the way up to the top, it gets too messy. I know this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but most of us hate turnips so don’t feel like you a have to feed an army.
2. Two half gallons of ice cream, one must be VANILLA, I don’t care what the other one is. No store brands please. I did see an ad this morning for Hagan Daz Peppermint Bark Ice Cream, yum!! (no pressure here, though).
3. Toppings for the ice cream.
4. A case of bottled water, NOT gallons, any brand is ok.

The Bob Byron Family
1. Green beans or asparagus (not both) in a casserole with a lid and a serving spoon. If you are making the green beans, please prepare FOUR pounds, if you are making asparagus please prepare FIVE pounds. It is up to you how you wish to prepare them, no soupy sauces, no cheese (you know how Mike is), a light sprinkling of toasted nuts, or pancetta, or some EVOO would be a nice way to jazz them up.
2. A case of beer of your choice (I have Coors Light and Corona) or a bottle of clos du bois chardonnay (you will have to let me know which you will bring prior to 11/22).

The Lisa Byron Chesterford Family
1. Lisa as a married woman you are now required to contribute at the adult level. You can bring an hors d’ouvres. A few helpful hints/suggestions. Keep it very light, and non-filling, NO COCKTAIL SAUCE, no beans of any kind. I think your best bet would be a platter of fresh veggies and dip. Not a huge platter mind you (i.e., not the plastic platter from the supermarket).

The Michelle Bobble Family
1. Stuffing in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please make the stuffing sans meat.
2. 2.5-3 qts. of mashed squash in a casserole with a lid and serving spoon
3. Proscuitto pin wheel - please stick to the recipe, no need to bring a plate.
4. A pie knife

The June Davis Family
1. 15 LBS of mashed potatoes in a casserole with a serving spoon. Please do not use the over-size blue serving dish you used last year. Because you are making such a large batch you can do one of two things: put half the mash in a regulation size casserole with lid and put the other half in a plastic container and we can just replenish with that or use two regulation size casserole dishes with lids. Only one serving spoon is needed.
2. A bottle of clos du bois chardonnay

The Amy Misto Family (why do I even bother she will never read this)
1. A pumpkin pie in a pie dish (please use my silver palate recipe) no knife needed.
2. An apple pie in a pie dish, you can use your own recipe, no knife needed.

Looking forward to the 28th!!

Marney

(kindly submitted by Kara at http://californiakara.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Favorite combinations

Certain combinations just work well together.

Peanut butter + chocolate. (Jelly who!?) Snow days, grilled cheese + tomato soup. Little girls + big hair bows. Pay day + J.Crew final sale. (tell me its not just me!)

I'm enjoying one of my favorite combinations right now:


Steaming Coffee + Rain + Writing + Damien Rice


Ahhhhhh, heaven. So what's your favorite combination?


Lemony Wine Shrimp Pasta

Yay - a recipe of my own to share.

Ever have those days where you come home, have no clue what you want to make for dinner, and zero desire to run to the gstore, but still want something delicious? (Gah, this is beginning to sound like an infomercial!)

This happened to me several months ago. The following recipe is the result. It is a combination of tons of ingredients I tend to have on-hand, and hopefully you do too! To be honest, I'm guesstimating the portions of ingredients, because I don't usually measure. I eyeball it - and it hasn't failed me yet. Try to do the same - you'll never learn until you practice!

So here goes:

Care's Lemony Wine Shrimp Pasta
(this portion feeds 2 or 3, but like I said, I don't usually measure so make as much as seems right for your group!)

Ingredients:
Angel hair pasta
12 large, deveined shrimp (~6 shrimp/person is a good amount)
1 large lemon (zest and juice)
3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced (then again, I love garlic... so add what seems right to you)
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced (not to be confused with scallions... a normal mix-up for Chad)
4 Tbs capers
1/2 cup dry white wine
4Tbs butter
Good olive oil
Cornstarch or flour (whatever you have handy)
Pecorino Romano cheese (Locatelli preferably... but again, I'm brand loyal)
Fresh Italian Parsley or basil (if you've got it)
Coarse salt and fresh black pepper

Directions:
1. Peel and devein your shrimp. Or be cool and buy pre-deveined shrimp frozen so you can defrost as needed and use. Just make sure you peel your shrimp! (Tip for defrosting shrimp in seconds: Run them under cold water for a few seconds and peel. Store in a bowl of cold water until you've peeled them all. Then, pat dry!

2. Start boiling your water with lots of salt and about a Tbs of olive oil (to keep the angel hair from sticking). Once you get the shrimp going, toss in your pasta to the pot since it doesn't take much time to cook the thin pasta, or the shrimp! Again, just portion the pasta for your needs. I usually do a couple handfuls for the two of us. Then again we always have leftovers, so maybe one good handful will suffice.

3. In a large sautee pan, heat about 1 Tbs of butter and 2 Tbs good extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Throw in your garlic and shallots. Give them about a minute or two to warm up (don't let your garlic burn), then throw in your shrimp. Remember, shrimp cook fast. You'll want to flip them over once you can see they've started to get pink on one side. Once they are pink, remove them from pan. Don't overcook shrimp - they'll become chewy.

4. Combine about about 3 Tsp of cornstarch or flour to about 5 Tbs water and wisk together until incorporated. You don't want clumps. I only do this step to thicken my sauce so it coats the pasta better. I suppose you don't have to do it if you don't want to. You could flour your shrimp before sauteeing them to get a similar effect. Or reserve a little bit of the starchy liquid from your pasta. Pick your poision.

5. Pour flour/cornstarch mixture into sautee pan with your shallots and garlic. Add your white wine, capers, lemon juice from your lemon (you can use half a lemon if it is very juicey), and about 2 or 3 Tbs of butter. If you have a little bit of heavy cream, you could add that too. Let it cook for a couple minutes til the alcohol burns out of the wine. Add some coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Mix it all together into a yummy sauce. Again - eyeball it here! If it looks a little thick, add some more wine/lemon juice. Too thin? Add a bit more cornstarch ... just make sure to wisk it with water first so you don't have clumps in your sauce. Return your shrimp to the pan to heat it all together.

6. Drain your pasta and add it to the same skillet. Stir it all together so your pasta is coated with the sauce, capers, shrimp, garlic, etc.

I'm really drooling while typing this.

7. Serve garnished with fresh Italian parsley (or basil), lots of romano cheese (or parm if that's what you've got), lemon zest and extra cracked black pepper.

Share with the ones you love!

This recipe is fantastic because it really lets you use your imagination. Play around with it. Don't like shrimp, use scallops! Substitute heavy cream for butter in the sauce (or be crazy and use both)! Don't like capers, don't put them in. However stick with the combo of white wine/lemon/butter - it will be your best friend. Great flavor profile.

Now, get cookin'!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Small Steps

Have you ever thought about being a different type of person than who you are? I think most people would describe me as "preppy." However, I think I have a deep-seeded desire to be some black nail polish wearing, crazy hair-dyed artist/photographer/designer. Instead of marrying a polo shirt wearing, golf playing man, I'd marry one with too tight jeans, skinny ties and a messenger bag. We'd go to concerts of people you've never heard of, visit art shows on the weekend, and refuse to buy any product that wasn't free trade.

Okay, maybe I really don't want all those things. I love Chad
as is, and honestly, I'm not sure I could pull off hair died crazy shades of black and red.

That being said, this post is about Photoshop.

Gotcha! I love starting one place then amazing you by going somewhere completely different.

So I've accepted that I'll never be a cool, artistic photographer. Probably not even close. My brother is a graphic designer and I'm pretty sure he took all the creative genes in the family. *sigh*

However, at the beginning of this year I challenged myself
to learn how to use Photoshop for things other than cropping pictures or changing the resolution (things I must do for my job).

So thanks to the plentiful information you can find online,
I've learned (sort of) how to crop someone or something out of a picture using the "Clone Stamp Tool." One of you smarties reading this might be saying, "Uhhh that's probably the worst way to do it..." but give me a break. I'm already amazing myself with this new power.

Ready to see proof?

Before picture (our wedding kiss with our pastor right in the middle ruining the shot):


After the amazing power of Photoshop:

I better be hearing "ooohs" and "aaahs" across the Web. Okay, I know it's not perfect, but I am proud that I'm learning... little by little. My next goal: figuring out how to intensify the colors of a picture. If you know of any good tutorials, holla!

I'm hoping to convince Chad to get me a Nikon Digital SLR for Christmas so I can continue to amaze you all with my photography+Photoshop skills.

I might never have a messenger bag sitting by the front door, but daggone I will have some awesome photography of my own framed on the walls!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Fruit Salsa: It makes your mouth dance

This is proof I'm not selfish will all my recipes, all the time.

This recipe comes from my good friend Angela. She made it for another friend's baby shower and I decided then and there I'd have to try it out for myself. It is de-lish-ious! I've since made it for small groups, cookouts, and most recently - a fantasy football draft. It's very easy to make - just takes about an hour to fine dice your fruits into tiny pieces (then again, I'm a control freak and like my pieces to be consistent). That said - it is a whole lotta chopping. I had to sharpen my Henkel knife when all was said and done.

So here it is: Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Sugar Chips ... enjoy!

Ingredients:

For Salsa

2 kiwis
2 golden delicious apples
8 oz raspberries
1 lb strawberries
2 Tbs sugar (I used Splenda)
1 Tbs brown sugar (I used Splenda Brown Sugar)
3 Tbs seedless fruit preserves (I used Smucker's strawberry)

For Chips
10- 10'' flour tortillas
2 cups cinnamon sugar
Cooking spray

Directions
1. Peel kiwis and apples. Finely chop all fruits. I add a few tsps of Fresh Fruit while I'm chopping because I don't want my apples to turn brown.
2. Combine with sugar, brown sugar and preserves.
3. Cover and chill.
4. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat one side of each tortilla with cooking spray, cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and spray again. Bake 8-10 minutes or until crispy.