Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peach Blueberry Pie

I don't generally have luck with pie crusts.  This is only one of many crusts that have fallen apart on me, causing me to doubt everything I know about baking.  Honestly, if you can't make a pie crust, how can you consider yourself an amateur baker?  Pie is so easy: crust and filling.  I felt awful every time my dessert fell flat.
Enter Joy the Baker.  I came across her recipe for Peach Blueberry Pie, and her tone throughout the whole post on pie crust was so encouraging and low-key, I decided to give pie crust another shot.
Thank goodness I did!  JP, being from Atlanta, love peaches and loves pie, and he loves me more after making this dessert.  The crust, slowly but surely, came together beautifully and, though not flawless, gorgeous and tasty nonetheless.  The filling is so wonderfully seasoned and fresh, I kept sneaking bites before reluctantly pouring it into the crust.
If you've felt frustrated by other pie crust recipes, try this one out.  Joy really knows what she's talking about!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Birds and...studs?

Dress and clutch: H&M
Belt: J.Crew
Shoes: Michael Stars (I think?) via TJ Maxx
Well, I didn't take a picture of my actual birthday outfit.  No, no, not my birthday suit, but what I wore to dinner at Vidalia, where JP treated me to a feast.  This, what I wore to dessert and a drink at Blue Duck Tavern the day after the big 2-5, will have to do.  And honestly, I'm more glad I caught this outfit on film (even though it didn't come out perfectly).  This dress has such a quirky print on it, and I thought it would look cool toughened up with the studs on the heels of these heels.
Which I have had longer than I've been dating JP.  They were a little pricey for TJ Maxx, but I couldn't resist the gunmetal finish with pyramid studs on one strap and along the sides and heels.  Fabulous purchase.
Um, I was pretty psyched about my drink (a very fruit-filled sangria) with flambe molten chocolate cake.  Yes, chocolate cake that was soaked in whiskey and lit on fire when it got to the table.  Man, what a birthday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Son

Man, what a cool book.  JP has been on my case about reading this comic book, and I'm so glad he basically sat me down on the couch and ordered me to finish it.  Mark Millar came up with this simple idea: What if Superman had been brought up in the USSR, instead of Smallville, USA?  It opens in 1953, with Superman coming into fame with Joseph Stalin, while Lois Luthor (what?!) is writing about him back in NYC.  Several DC personalities pop up (Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, even Batman), although not as you expect.
There are three parts to the story: Red Son Rising, Red Son Ascendant, and Red Son Setting.  They're all great, but I particularly enjoyed the ending in Red Son Setting.  Seriously mind-blowing!  And don't get me started on the illustrations; each of the pencilers and inkers, as well as the colorist and letterer, did a superb job capturing the mood of the story.
I realize that not everyone is into comics, and that's okay.  If you're looking for something a little different, with a different take on the superhero mythology, this will take you less than a short afternoon to get through, and get you lots of points with fanboys the world over. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top 8 Outfits of Being 24

Today is my Golden Birthday.  25 on 25.  Man, I guess I'm officially a grown-up now.  Is it all downhill from here?  If so, I'd better appreciate my cute outfits now!
I wore this breezy outfit to the Royal Wedding Garden Party at Hitched back in April.  Kind of a casual bridal look: all white, strappy heels, statement necklace.  I felt really, super lovely at the event, even if I didn't get to strut around in real wedding dresses like the Hitched associates did.
Yes, I know I wore this relatively recently, but I love it!  Great colors, great shoes, amazing necklace.  I'd wear this to work every day if I wasn't afraid of weirding people out.
I never posted this outfit, but I wore it all day before JP proposed on New Year's Eve.  We spent the afternoon wandering around St. Aug with Mia and our good friends (and recent homeowners!) Joe and Jenny.  It was a great vacation ensemble, and I love that I remember that lovely day when I look at this picture.  (BTW, shirt, sweater and shorts: GAP, shoes: Michael Antonio, necklace: gift from Haley, scarf: Ann Taylor.)
Remember when I wore this to a wedding brunch?  I saved this outfit for weeks before deciding that was a perfect excuse to wear it, and felt gorgeous.  No, I don't have self-esteem issues.  Is that obvious?
Perfect weekend outfit.  Intricate earrings, dark jeans, unbelievably soft cardigan. 
I wore this to a particularly tasty brunch at Dupont Hotel here in DC back in January, and felt so mod.  Love that pink to break up an all dark ensemble!
Perfect layers.  The belt gave me a waist, the cardigan adds a pop of color, and this scarf is actually from my mom's collection (did you realize that I very sneakily brought this home with me?). 
This photo is from my recent trip to Pensacola to see Haley, when we spent an hour or two at the beach.  There was a time in the not-so-distant past when I would not have wanted to post a picture of me in a bikini.  But can I share a secret with you?  I love my body.  It's capable of amazing things (like running 10 miles, doing 60 push-ups... spaced out, cuddling with the people I love), and has never let me down.  Why shouldn't we celebrate ourselves?
In my 25th year, I'm looking forward to getting even more comfortable in my wonderful skin, marrying the love of my very life, eating beautiful meals with my closest friends and family, and traveling to new places.  And yes, I'll probably bring this bikini with me.  (Sunglasses: H&M, Top: Target, Bottom: GAP)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shrimp Tacos

I saw this recipe for shrimp tacos on Design Sponge a few weeks back, and it's been on my "to-make" list since then.  Usually, these things sit on my mind for about, oh, 7 months, but this was a much quicker process.  First of all, I knew I didn't need to make my own tortillas or peach salsa; both are readily available at Trader Joe's (although I wouldn't mind trying homemade tortillas when I'm feeling more adventurous!).  Second all, shrimp was on sale at Safeway.  The stars lined up, and I made this for dinner last week to great my dining room with John Paul.
I didn't have absolutely all of the spices and herbs required for the blackened seasoning, but made substitutions where I could (red pepper flakes for cayenne, left out celery seed).  Nothing seemed amiss, and they came out beautifully: spicy, full of flavor, perfectly pink.
We topped with cut up avocados, thinly sliced red onion, peach salsa and sour cream (for JP).  This was a perfect summer meal to enjoy with your hands (no utensils required)!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

6 Things

This week, I've got love for these things:

John Paul has finally started liking salads.  I think putting cold, cooked flank steak and adding a creamy mustard vinaigrette helped.
Goofy Metro signs.  No stormtroopers allowed at the center door?  What about the side doors?

We painted our guest bath!  I'll do a whole post next week; this is just a little teaser...

Finally found a pie crust that didn't break on me.  Hallelujah!  Another teaser for next week...

Early birthday presents.  Thanks, Summer!  The lavender-topped truffle was beyond amazing.

And, as always, chick-fil-a.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blood, Butter and Bones

Food is king.  People who make food are even higher than kings.  They're...kingier.  I'm not good with words sometimes.
Gabrielle Hamilton is a well-known chef in the food world, but I didn't really know her well until picking up her memoir.  Not only is the title incredibly evocative, but it gives you a hint as to the layout of the book.
The first third covers her early years: eating bone marrow made by her French mother, helping her father roast lamb at large parties held at their dilapidated home, moving to NYC at 17 to take up waiting tables.  The second third describes her forays into cooking.  It is an inexplicable part of her; it's in her bones.  She writes about being a chef, the struggles she's faced as a pregnant woman working the line at her own restaurant, and beautifully describes some of the foreign travel she did that brought her to starting Prune, her NY establishment.  The latter portion is kind of the icing on the cake, the buttercream, if you will.  She travels to Italy yearly with her now-estranged husband, and she begins a torrid affair with the country: Hamilton loves the food and the way of life, but feels it lacks depth and is too steeped in tradition to move forward.  She finally does.
As much as I enjoyed reading about her relationship with food and kitchens, the book really picked up with the descriptions of the variety of foods she's prepared.  I most loved the brief section on a field trip she went on in Italy that involved taking very hard biscuits, which are then softened with one "Ava Maria" in saltwater.  I've never heard of this, but immediately want to try it.  Beautiful book, fun to read, brings up some good questions about women in any field of work. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Top: Thrifted
Jeans: Levi's
Shoes: Nine West
Necklace: Jewelmint
Ring: Vintage lucite gift from John Paul
On Saturday night, JP and I headed out to a dinner party.  I didn't want to look like my usual frumpy self, so I broke out the leopard silk top with shoulder pads.
Oh, I love this look!  Cute and dressy without being formal, and I love the few accessories that punch it up even further.  John Paul surprised me with this ring after a business trip to NYC, and it's so fabulous.  My man has great taste!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Very, very, very green smoothie

You might have heard my love of smoothies.  Generally I stick with fruit, and that does it for me.
Lately, though, I've been feeling as though I want more from my blended beverages.  Summer mentioned that adding a handful of spinach to any fruit smoothie will not alter the taste at all (thanks for the tip!), but I want more than just one handful of spinach.  Lucky for me, Sugar and Charm recently posted a delicious lime-flavored veggie smoothie, and it is seriously tasty!  Do not try unless you are a lime fan, and BLEND the ingredients.  It's great, but only if you get the texture right.  I blended this for about 1 1/2 or 2 minutes straight, which was needed.  With two pieces of toast, this green smoothie kept me full for 5 hours, which is no small feat.
Don't let the crazy color fool you; you should give this a shot!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


According to my camera and phone, the only thing I've been taking pictures of lately is Mia.
John Paul and I brought her home a little more than 2 years ago, and I don't know what we took photos of before her!  She's the cutest, cuddliest dog, and just completes our little family perfectly.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Housekeeping vs. The Dirt

Oh, Nick Hornby.  My copy of High Fidelity is a mess with highlighted passages and underlined phrases.  About A  Boy was one of the funniest, most acutely written books about boys (and men who behave like them) I've read.  And don't even get me started on An Education, of which he co-wrote the script.  He's put out an album with Ben Folds, another swoon-worthy art crush.  Even though a couple of his latest books have been "meh" in my opinion, there is a special place in my heart for him.
Did you know that he writes book reviews for monthly lit magazine The Believer?  Well, he does, and those reviews have been collected in a series of three books.  I missed the first one, but Housekeeping vs. The Dirt, which came out in 2006, is so much fun to read that I feel as though I have to pick up the other two as soon as I'm in need of a good book to read.
Hornby starts off each of his columns with two lists: Books Bought and Books Actually Read.  He's completely honest about judging books based on his mood, and even read a biography of Motley Crue band members!  There's no place for snobbery in his columns, although his feelings toward the state of literature today varies by month.  The reviews are witty, concise, and thoroughly enjoyable to read.  It's also a very slim volume, so you can get through it quickly.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Steak and Potatoes Salad

Yesterday I mentioned that Haley made a supertasty salad during my weekend visit.  She got the recipe from Real Simple, and it was perfect for summer!  If you have a grill (lucky!), try grilling the steak outside instead of using a skillet; I'm sure it can only add to the deliciousness.
This salad has something for both the carnivore (um, steak?  Bacon?), as well as some veggies, although I would add grape tomatoes to recipe.  It's really, really tasty; even more so when your cute-as-a-button sister makes it while you get to enjoy a drink a watch!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Last weekend was my first time in Pensacola, FL, and it was so completely lovely!  Haley planned lots of fun things for us to do, and we even got to squeeze in a few unplanned outings (saw Friends with Benefits, ate at Chik-Fil-A, because that's what you do when you see one).  The original purpose was to find Haley a bridesmaid dress, but we had no luck.  Not to worry, though, as we have tons of time to find something!
Perhaps I could interest you in a few photos?

Haley made a truly delicious steak and potatoes salad.  Complete with homemade blue cheese dressing.

She approved of it.
We walked along the bluffs...
...And I practiced being a monkey.
We tried on shoes.  (Haley is so tall!)
Matt gave Haley some (PG) lovin.
And I got some much needed beach time.
We also did masks, and yoga with a soccer ball.  But some things should really stay between sisters.
I can't wait to head back!  Thanks for such a wonderful visit, Haley!