Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Literal Tee

Tee and skirt: F21
Shoes: Gap
I wanted to get a new top to wear for Thanksgiving, and this one couldn't be more appropriate for the holiday!  On the bottom it reads, "I am so lucky."  It's a little long, so I tied it into a knot in the back; tucking it in meant you couldn't make out the cute saying.  The only issue with the whole outfit is that the waistband is not elastic, hence a little self-restraint was in order.  I had one and a half pieces of cake.  Man, the things we do for fashion.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in Florida!

Man, Thanksgiving went by superfast!  I'm spending the last days of November in sunny south Florida, and soaking up the 77 degree weather while I still can.  Want to see some pictures of the big eating day?
Haley looked like a leggy model.  Seriously, who's allowed to look so cute when they eat so much good food?!
If you knew how many pictures we have to go through to get just one good one with my dad, you'd be exhausted.  Just trust when I say that there are some silly outtakes of this shot.
I love Amber laughing in this photo!  The family always gathers for a board game after dinner, and, needless to say, we get a little goofy.
I wouldn't know, though, because I was partaking in my annual, "Sleep when it's most noisy, least appropriate, you-really-shouldn't-have-eaten-so-much" nap.  It's a time-honored tradition.
You can't just break tradition.
Mom trying to cram Haley's tummy back in.  We gorged on turducken.
She's a great cook!
And the pumple.  More on that later.

Friday, November 26, 2010

All you need is... a belt!

Top and sweater: Gap
Skirt: F21
Heels: Nine West
Belt: H&M
Sometimes it's best to go with one big statement piece to bring an outfit together.  Without the belt, the sweater is a bit loose, and the skirt needed a little something to complete the waistline.  It's been a tad on the chilly side in DC, so it's definitely time to break out the tights and start layering.  It's a great time of year; lots of ways to experiment with clothing and what textures and colors work well! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010


 There is a Finnish proverb that reads, "Happiness is a place between too little and too much."
 I fear that the gauge often tips to "Too Much" in my life; I'm surrounded by wonderful friends, loving family, the sweetest, most beloved dog ever, and an amazing man I get to love unconditionally.
 I have a beautiful roof over me, delicious food close by, a (relatively) strong sense of self, and a healthy body.  My job isn't superstressful, my clothes fit me, and my shelves are full of time-tested literature.
 Really, what more can a girl ask for? 
I hope you're spending a warm holiday with people you love, and that you're as lucky as I am.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

 John Paul are in the midst of a book exchange: I read one of his favorite books, and he reads one of mine.  He's nearly done with Slaughterhouse Five, and I've just completed Hitchhiker's.  Yes, I'm behind the trend with reading this book, but I've seen the movie!  Surely that counts for something?
For those of you who haven't caught the plot of this enormously entertaining novel, Arthur Dent is rescued from Earth's demise by Ford Prefect, his alien neighbor.  Ford has been posing as an out-of-work actor for fifteen years while researching Earth for the new edition of the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the most popular book in the galaxy.  They first face down the dreaded Vogons and their universally hated poetry, then are picked up by a passing stolen, state-of-the-art spaceship containing a depressed robot, the president of the galaxy, and the woman Arthur failed to pick up at a recent party.  Then they find themselves in the orbit of the legendary planet of Magrathea, which is known for making planets for the universe's most wealthy.  Will Arthur ever drink tea again?  How exactly does an Improbability Drive work?  And where are our lost ballpoints escaping to?
I found this book completely absurd and goofy, in a wonderful way.  It's clear that Douglas Adams has a very dry, quirky sense of humor, and you do have to let go of any seriousness while reading through these pages.  While the book is quite funny, I would prefer to listen to the following four novels; some of the humor seems to beg for a narrator's intonations and expert pauses to really hit the mark.  It's a quick read, less than 220 pages in paperback, and a great way to pass a couple of afternoons or lunch breaks.  Pick it up!  Can't we all use something light?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Black and Blue

Button down and Pants: Gap
Belt: H&M
Oxfords: Aldo
This is the easiest outfit to put together for work: button-down, black pants, belt.  Does it get any more straightforward than that?  The top keeps the whole thing from looking stuffy, and the brown add some interest.
I'm lucky that my job doesn't require a suit or anything, so it's possible to wear chambray, or cute printed skirts, to work.  It's definitely a plus!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spagetti (Squash) Pasta

This meal came from laziness: John Paul and I couldn't be bothered to actually make something that required chopping, dicing, roasting, etc.  Sometimes preparing dinner is a hassle!  Spagetti pasta takes all of the effort out of cooking, and leaves you with just the tastiness.  There's some butter to add a rich, creamy flavor, the sweetness of the squash, and saltiness of the pasta, all combined in one bowl.  There were some words exchanged when it came time to decide who would take the leftovers to work.  A dish worth fighting for.  Isn't that all we want in our bellies?

Spagetti (Squash) Pasta
1 bag curly pasta
1 medium spagetti squash
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Boil water, then put pasta in.  I pour a lot of salt into my water to give the pasta its flavor.  Reserve 3/4 c. pasta water, then drain and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, poke holes into the squash with a fork, then put on a plate.  Microwave in 5 minute increments until the skin gives when poked.  This should take about 15 minutes.  Remove from microwave (carefully; it will be super hot!), cut in half, and remove the seeds.  Scrape the meat away from the skin, and place into the bowl with the pasta.
3. Throw in cheese, butter and reserved water.  Mix around until everything is melted, then season to taste.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ella Love

 John Paul and I had an absolutely lovely housewarming party on Sunday evening.  We served some of the same recipes from pinxtos party, and I made pinwheel cookies and homemade Twix bars...of which I didn't take any pictures.  Take my word when I say, we have a wonderful group of friends in DC who helped our new condo feel more like a home!  We actually have more wine left over than when we started the party; what the what?  I guess our friends are also generous!
That means we'll have to do this again soon, and hopefully this time I'll put the ol' camera to use.
To keep the party going, I put together a 40-song playlist.  Don't worry, I won't list the whole thing here.  I'll just keep it to the ones I was most excited about listening to.
1. "They All Laughed" Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
2. "Nobody" Kate Earl
3. "How Deep is Your Love" The Bird and the Bee
4. "Piano Song" Meiko
5. "I Melt with You" Nouvelle Vague
6. "Back to You" Coconut Records
7. "I Should Have Known Better" She and Him
8. "Don't Stop Me Now" Queen
9. "Slow Dance" John Legend
10. "Never Had No One Like You" M. Ward

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Layering Neutrals

Blazer: J. Crew
Hoodie: American Eagle
Tunic: Anthropologie
Tights: ?
Boots: Nicole via Piperlime
Necklace: Vintage
This is my idea of a perfect day outfit: casual, easy, layered.  The blazer is one size too big, so I roll the sleeves up and use it in a boyfriend style.  I like the casualness the hoodie brings to the outfit, and especially with the sleeves poking out of the blazer.  The tunic is a staple; I really do wear it once a week!  I wasn't sure about the motorcycle boots when I first took them out of the box, but am completely in love with them!  They give every outfit a bit of an edge, and have a very slight heel, making them supercomfy to walk in all day.  I didn't want to take this off!
Mia doesn't understand that I have to go to work to keep her in the lifestyle to which she's become accustomed.  It's not fun to leave her in the mornings, especially when she matches my outfit so perfectly!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Secret History

This is one of my favorite books.  And, after I write the plot of it, I'll seem like a horrible person.  Keep in mind that lots of books are incredibly well written and deal with unappealing subject matter!
Richard Papen is out of place in California, and flees to Vermont to study at Hampden College.  He immediately falls in with a small, elite Classics group: Charles and Camilla (nearly ethereal twins), Henry (a bit fastidious and remarkably intelligent), Francis (eccentric), and Bunny (clueless and well-meaning).  The six of them bond while translating Latin and Greek prose, which instills in Henry an obsession with having an ancient Bacchanal.  Richard and Bunny are both left out of the proceedings.  Bunny discovers, quite on his own, that Henry, Francis and the twins accidentally killed a local farmer during the Bacchanal, and proceeds to mentally torture and extort money from them in order to keep quiet.  When he begins to act unpredictably, though, the remaining cast has to decide what they're willing to go down for.
Ok, that's the gist.  The novel, though, is written with a firm footing in reality; how else can we believe that a Bacchanalia took place?  These are the things of myth, yet Tartt brings it into the modern world.  The writing follows a Greek tragedy, pulling in the Greek literature the students are studying.  It's an involving piece of fiction, with excellent character description and intriguing plot developments.   I realize that nothing I'm saying is intriguing in and of itself, but this book is so good!  My copy has been thumbed through about five or six times; you should at least try it once.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

Since Summer has moved up to DC, I've realized that we have very similar cooking sensibilities.  I say I'm making homemade Twix bars, and she says, "Just keep stirring the sugar so it doesn't burn."  She's mastered biscuits and gravy, and reads the same cooking blogs that I subscribe to.  So when she said a couple weeks ago that she'd made Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Lasagna, I wasn't too surprised; the recipe had been sitting on my table to make for a couple of days.  She's my kitchen twin!

Summer gave me a tip to making the pasta dish more delicious: add sauteed spinach to the mushrooms. Oh, it put the whole meal over the top rich and tasty! The bechamel is creamy and thick, and compliments the bitterness of the spinach perfectly. And I think I've made my feelings on carbs pretty clear. Combine everything, and I was a very happy girl!
Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Mushroom Lasagna is spot-on; all I did was wilt a bunch of spinach (about one bag) in with the mushrooms in the last few minutes of cooking the mushrooms. It's great!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What I Wore Hiking

Sweater: Urban Outfitters
Vest: Eddie Bauer
Jeans: Paper Denim & Cloth
Sneakers: Reebok
DC is a great city for a lot of reasons: the museums are free, there's always something going on, great restaurants are around every corner.  One of the most wonderful things is the wide array of parks scattered throughout.  John Paul and I went tromping through Dumbarton Oaks just north of Georgetown on Sunday morning, and it was chilly enough for layering, but not cold enough to keep us inside.  This vest is down-filled, the sweater is fuzzy on the inside, and I'm wearing superthick socks.  It's a great combination!
There are areas like this in DC!  I love it!
We were pretty psyched to spend the morning in the great outdoors.  Not a cloud in the sky and breezy!
That's Mia enjoying the freedom of being off-leash.  She was leaping and bolting past us the entire walk; the rest of the day was spent on the couch!
There's no contest; Mia would beat me in any staring or jumping contest, race, and cute competition.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chocolate Mascarpone Pound Cake

Pound cake is such a wonderful dessert; it's moist, barely sweet, and pairs well with almost any sweet sauce or fruit.  It's great for winter, when you want something a little heavier than ice cream, but want to keep all your teeth from rotting away.  Giada de Laurentiis' version has chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate (with sugar added!), so its' flavor is deeper than your typical chocolate cake.  Coating the chips in flour before adding them to the liquid ingredients makes sure they don't sink to the bottom of the cake; flour helps them situate themselves throughout the entire dough.  I don't know how it works, but it's best to not question these things.
This is the world's most perfect chocolate chip pound cake recipe because it makes TWO cakes!  Wrap the second one in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and freeze for a later use. 

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake (from Giada de Laurentiis' Giada's Kitchen, 2008)
5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/3 c. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 c. chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
2. In a small sauce pan, combine the unsweetened chocolate and 1 c. water.  Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool for two minutes, then whisk in the mascarpone until the mixture is smooth.
3. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl for 30 seconds.  Stir in the chocolate mixture.
4. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder and chocolate chips in a medium bowl.  Add to the wet ingredients and stir until just blended.
5. Divide the batter among the two pans and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of each loaf comes out with no crumbs attached.  Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn out into a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

You Are Not A Gadget

You Are Not A Gadget, by Jaron Lanier, is a manifesto criticizing and analyzing the way technology has developed over the past twenty years.  Amazon listed it as one of the best books of the year (so far), and I often find myself puzzling over the way technology advances have affected the human condition, so this seemed like a natural fit for my point of view.
Lanier makes several rather obvious observations in his book, except I've never taken the time to make those same notes.  For example, he insists that we, as a society, have put computers on a pedestal, rather than realizing that we make computers and software.  It's impressive when a chess prodigy is beaten by a computer, but mostly because a computer programmer has been able to successfully create a program to anticipate chess moves ahead of a person.  Why didn't I think of that?
It is also noted that Web 2.0 has encouraged people to limit themselves, rather than expand their creative boundaries.  Facebook forces people to categorize themselves by what books and movies they like, and formats each page the same way.  Web 2.0 has created a new encyclopedia, Wikipedia...which is exactly like print encyclopedias.  There isn't as much diversity online these days as programmers might have imagined twenty years ago.
Now, let's be frank.  I'm not a techie, and a lot of this book went over my head.  Yes, I could get the gist of the manifesto, but couldn't quite follow the descriptions of "songles" or follow some of the thought experiments mentioned.  For a lot of non-fiction, though, the gist is often good enough; this is Lanier's manifesto, after all, not mine.  I will say that You Are Not A Gadget took me over two weeks to get through, which I hadn't counted on.  It's great to read something that forces you to think outside of your comfort level, even if some of it is somewhat incomprehensible.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Casa Shelton-Diego, Pt. 2

Slowly but surely, our home is coming together.  Boxes are being thrown away, rugs are being bought, and paintings are being hung.   We even had people over for brunch this weekend!  A few more peeks...
The dining room is just off the kitchen; how much do you love our red chairs?!  They're superfun, and help break up the neutral wall colors throughout the space.
Our couch.  It's phenomenally comfortable, about 3 feet wide...and 92 inches long.  We were able to move it out of our old place easily, and I should have known something would give when we moved in to the new abode.  Sure enough, it wouldn't even fit in the elevator (which is only 82 inches high).  We now live on the 6th floor, and the loading dock is on P1 (below the ground floor).  John Paul and I were able to carry it up to the 3rd floor before I had to call for help.  Luckily, our friend Mark was on his way home from an interview in Georgetown and was gracious enough to roll up his sleeves and help out with the last 3 flights.  Then, he and John Paul spent 20 minutes getting it through our awkward hallway and into the living room.
Needless to say, that couch isn't going anywhere.
The office has officially been dubbed John Paul's space, and he put this funky assortment together.  The chest holds his record player, globe, and the head was a trash room find (one man's trash...).
 He's done a great job of organizing the bookshelves in the office.  We still don't have a desk; hopefully this won't look so full when he finds one he likes!
Look!  No more boxes!
These bookshelves used to be in the living room, and John Paul had the great idea of using them as bedside tables in the new bedroom.  It works wonderfully!  He flipped the fourth shelf down, so it sticks out instead of in, and it comfortably rests a stack of library books and water; all of my etiquette books and an engraving by my great-grandfather have a happy home next to me.
John Paul made his own bedside lamp.  As you can see, he's a Scotch man.
One of my favorite photographs and perfumes sit atop my dresser.  My family always makes me smile!
Can I close with one more of the living room?  The light that comes in the evening is just beautiful; it's the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine.  Or two.  Hey, there's no judgment here.