Friday, November 30, 2012

Haley's Week in Photos

We went to an FSU football game in Tallahassee last weekend (and were severely disappointed, but I try not to dwell) with our friends Ryan, Rob, and Summer.  It was beautiful weather for tail-gating, and we had lots of good food and company!

After all of the excitement of the weekend, Layla and I were worn out on the way home!  Thank goodness Matt likes to drive...

I told you that I would be eating this cranberry sauce all the time!  My lunches for most of the week were open-faced sandwiches of toasted biscuits, dijon-maple ham, and cranberry sauce.  Please believe me when I say YUM!

These are my little plant babies that sit on my windowsill at work.  I'm not crazy, but I name my plants: Leslie Knope is on the left, and that's Ramona on the right.  I once killed a cactus (while living in Florida, no less!), so I'm pretty proud that these guys have been around for a while.

It was a little chilly in the mornings this week, so I layered up with a gingham button-down and hand-me-down sweater that I got from Abbi!  And yes, that is documentation of me having pineapple upside-down cake for breakfast at work.  I make no apologies.
Shirt: Old Navy
Sweater: Abbi's Closet (my favorite place to shop!)
Pants: Old Navy
Shoes: JCPenney

Abbi's Week in Photos

 DC United made it to the semi-finals of the MLS Cup!  We didn't make it (apparently, Houston Dynamo can hold us back), but it was a great run this season.  Loved the games, and love this team.

 JP and I drove down to Florida last week for Thanksgiving, and we hit up the boardwalk in Downtown Stuart with Mia.  It was a breezy day, and the water was getting a little close to the edge for our pup- sissy!

 On Thanksgiving, we played a couple friendly games of Cornhole- needless to say, I am absolutely awful at it.

A cute little pup wandered up to Dad and Karen's house the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and was immediately dubbed Lady Remington.  Excellent naming skills, Karen!  Remi was pretty darn cute.

The spread- grilled turkey, mac and cheese, rolls, mashed potatoes, roasted veggies.  We all overate.  C'est la Thanksgiving.

Meg threw a super-fun surprise fiesta for Andrea's birthday; JP dressed the part.  I love this picture!

We stopped for coffee in Jacksonville with one of our favorite couples.  Joe (on the left) has become a dad since this photo was snapped!

Matching siblings.  Matching cutie pies.

This week's outfit: H&M dress, shirt, and belt; Ciao Bella boots, Madewell socks.  In order to go outside, though, also had to throw on a peacoat, gloves, and beret.  Winter is here!

Bring on the holiday sparkle!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken Pad Thai

Guys.  I discovered this recipe from Brownies for Dinner about 2 months ago, and I have made it every week since.  I made it when Mommi came to visit, with chicken and homemade egg rolls.  I made it when Abbi visited us, with tofu and mushrooms.  I make this all. The. Time.  Once you get the basics of this recipe down, you can embellish with the add-ins; I went a little wild this time, because I want these leftovers to last me through the weekend!

Pad thai noodles are wide, flat rice noodles, and you soak them in very hot water for a couple minutes if you plan to use them in stir-fry.  The basic recipe is just rice noodles, scallions, garlic, eggs, and the pad thai noodles.  The sauce is soy sauce, brown sugar, and lime.  I add some Sriracha to the sauce, you know, for the spice in life.

Start soaking the noodles before you start anything else!  Then, slice up the whites of 3 scallions, and sautee them for a short minute with some minced garlic.  Add 2 eggs, beaten, and cook them until they are very soft.  You'll be adding them back in to cook completely later, so don't overdo it now! Remove the eggs from the pan.

I add my veggies to the pan at this point; like I said, I don't usually use so many veggies, but I want this to last forever, so I used broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. I add a little water to the pan, and put the lid on it to steam them for about 2 minutes.  Again, these will be cooked more later, so don't overdo it!  Remove the veggies from the pan, throw in some oil, and cook up your protein.  Shrimp?  Chicken?  Tofu?  Go crazy!

While that's cooking, mix up the sauce: 3 parts soy sauce, 2 parts brown sugar, and the juice of one lime.  Feeling daring?  Add in some sriracha and be brave!  

You're almost done!  Mix every single thing that we just cooked in the pan.  Pour your sauce over it and let it simmer, covered, for a couple minutes.  Slice up another lime to use for garnish/squeezing.  Do a taste test.  Think about buying a giant pan so that you can make even more of this.  Do another taste test.  Put it in a bowl and have yourself some pad thai!

Disclaimer: Yes, I know pad thai is supposed to have peanuts and cilantro, but honestly?  Cilantro kind of gives me the willies and Matt's allergic to peanuts.  That's the beauty of this recipe, that you can go very basic and work your way back up to exactly what you want!   

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Joseph Anton


Salman Rushdie's latest book is a memoir of his time living under a fatwa, which Ayotollah Kohmeini announced in 1989.  Can you imagine waking up each day for 9 years and knowing there is a multi-million dollar price on your head?  If you can't (and, honestly, very few of us can), you'll need to read through the 600+ pages of Joseph Anton.
For anyone who lived under a rock for the past 20 years, Rushdie is pretty much the bane of the Islamic world, or at least was, after the publication of The Satanic Verses in 1988.  While much-loved by the literary community, Verses was seen as blasphemous by most practicing Muslims.  Rushdie answered a phone call on Valentine's Day, 1989 and asked what it felt like to have a price on his head.  From them through 2000, he hopped from safe house to safe house under the protection of the British Secret Service, paid for by the British government.  For safety reasons, he had to choose a new name; thus, Joseph Anton was born from the first names of the great novelists Conrad and Chekhov. 
As many other reviewers noted, the first half of this memoir is gripping.  Rushdie discusses his childhood spent in boarding schools in England, his tormented relationship with his father, his first jobs out of college, and the birth of his novels.  It goes about at a clipped pace, and is full of juicy details of literary giants (he was the best man at Bill Buford's wedding, and attended a tea at Buckingham Palace while Diana lived there).  Rushdie writes in the third person, which helps it read a bit more novel-y. 
Perhaps in direct correlation to his own sense of tedium at living each day under some form of house arrest, the second half plods along and goes into much detail about each weekend trip spent with friends and takeout meal.  Each passage that involves interaction with his children picks up a bit, though, as he quite clearly adores his sons.  The same cannot be said of all of his romantic entanglements, and he does not pause to breathe during attacks on his second and fourth wives. 
Why wouldn't he just apologize to the hoards of people he offended with his novel?  Free speech.  People should be able to express their opinions without fear for their personal safety, and without fear of crazed public backlash.  It would be nice if he could have said that a bit more succinctly; after page 400, my interest waned a bit.

Sidenote: Growing up, I had heard of Verses, but had not seen it or knew what it was about.  I truly thought it was a series of poems that praised the devil or perhaps encouraged readers to commit unthinkable acts.  How odd to learn, during my teenage years, that it was an allegorical tale of two men from India who crash into England.  A bit disappointing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It FELT A Lot Like Christmas!

Do you like that pun in the title? Because this is a felt garland?? Get ready for a lot of that type of comedic gold, my lovelies!

These little sheets of felt are quickly becoming my favorite craft supply--they are only 34 cents each and I only used two full sheets for this whole garland. This glitter glue has lasted me through a lot of hard times and crafty adventures, and comes in a close second on the "Favorite Craft Supply" list.

I cut a whole bunch of different Christmas-yshapes from the felt, and embellished with the gold glitter. I made holly leaves and berries, Christmas trees, ornament shapes, and used little red pom-poms that I had on hand from a previous ill-advised project.

Once the glitter had dried, I threaded the pieces using an embroidery needle and red yarn, then hung it on up! This is really my kind of decorating, because I'm not wild about the bright green and red, store-bought Christmas look. I much prefer the handmade look, and I think this fits the bill perfectly! Are you making any of your own decorations this year? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chip Scones

Happy holiday season, y'all!  You're probably planning on bringing treats to your office, or will attend some sort of potluck event during the coming weeks.  Rather than bringing some Christmas-themed sugar cookies, why don't you try something new?  How about some sophisticated pastries with roasted pears and dark chocolate?

Try Smitten Kitchen's Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones!  They're wonderfully flaky and just barely sweet.  The pears add some moisture, while the chocolate chips get all melty and gooey.  I made a few changes; mostly added more flour, and used half-and-half instead of heavy cream.  Cut the dough into 8 triangles, and you can freeze any unused dough overnight and throw it in a bag until you're ready to bake them up.  Just do the egg glaze before baking, and add a few more minutes to the cooking time.

Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones by Smitten Kitchen
3 firmish pears
3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/4 c. granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated or coarse for sprinkling
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 c. half-and-half
1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for glaze

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core pears. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 30 minutes. Slide parchment paper with pear chunks onto a cooling rack (or onto a plate in the fridge or freezer to speed this up) and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Toss in cooled pear chunks, bits of butter, half-and-half and 1 egg. With the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until it just comes together. Don’t overmix. Add the chocolate chips and mix for 5 seconds more.
3. On a very well floured counter, pat out dough into an 8-inch round. Cut into 8 generous wedges and transfer to baking sheet at least two inches apart. Whisk remaining egg in a small dish with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
4. Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

What I am grateful for in 2012

So far, 2012 has been a pretty great year, and there are certainly a ton of things for which I am thankful.  This is but a brief list, and in no way considered complete.  I hope you're having a wonderful thanksgiving weekend, and have plenty to be thankful for, as well!

A tasty Thanksgiving meal spent with my dad and stepmom
A super, super sweet and affectionate pup
Calvin and Hobbes comics
Nashville (the new tv show)
Anthology magazine
Good olive oil
An awesome sister
Getting to spend a couple of days with my mom and her fun family
Bulky, comfy sweaters
Room diffusers
Joining a new family in March
Asics sneakers (my favorite running shoes!)
A husband like John Paul.

A Thankful Life

I hope that everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving celebration!  Matt and I hosted our first Thanksgiving at our apartment with our friends Rob and Summer, and I don't like to brag but, we had a truly delicious meal.  I work really hard every day to be thankful and conscious of the little things that make my life as amazing as it is, and of course, Thanksgiving Day was no different.  So, for what am I thankful?

These two, for the most part.  I honestly don't know what we did with ourselves before we got Layla, and she has been the brightest part of my day every day since we got her.  I'm also thankful that Matt loves her just as much as I do, if not more.  There is just something about a man and his dog...

I am also thankful that I live in a place where I can see beautiful sights like this almost every day.

And I am thankful for having the opportunity and means to have a Thanksgiving feast like this, with people that I love by my side!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Oh Wow Cranberry and Orange Relish

I added the "Oh Wow" to the name of this relish, because that is the first thing that came out of my mouth when I tasted it, still hot and syrupy from the pan.  Somehow, cranberry sauce always seemed daunting to me, what with making sure you had the right amount of sweet and tart, not burning the sugar in the syrup, and generally the idea of working with ripe (i.e., not dried and already sweetened) cranberries.  How wrong I was.  How very wrong...
 The recipe that I used, from Real Simple here, called for only butter, brown sugar, orange juice, and ginger (which I keep in my fridge in a handy, already-grated form).  It also called for orange marmalade, which is NOT a standard ingredient in the apartment, so I figured I'd just add in some grated orange zest and call it even.   
It was so easy!  All I had to do was melt the butter, add the ginger and cook for a few minutes, then all of the other stuff gets mixed in and simmered until the cranberries start to burst and the liquid gets syrupy and delightful.  I honestly just left it simmering on the stove and went about my business (glitterizing pine cones - more on that later) for 15 minutes while those lovely little cranberries did all the work for me. 
After a taste test, I added about 2 tablespoons of orange zest, a bit more ginger, and a small spoonful of brown sugar (to make up for the lack of marmalade sweetness).
And that was it.  Possibly the easiest thing I've ever made, with the best results.  In fact, I already have visions of me making this relish all season long to top pork chops, dip pretzels, scoop on vanilla ice cream...
That is, if any of it makes it out of the pan.
And the happiest of Thanksgivings to you and your's!  I hope that you all get to spend this day with the ones that you love the most!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On Abbi's To Read List

Today, JP and I are completing the pilgrimage to South Florida for Thanksgiving.  You'll have to excuse me for a brief pseudo-post today; rather than a full on book review, how about a list of books I'm looking forward to picking up in the next few months?

The Twelve, Justin Cronin's follow-up to my beloved The Passage, follows a different set of characters from the coming of the 'jumpers.'  Summer ordered a copy for my birthday, and I've just got to get to this one!  It promises a whole new perspective survival instincts and how man can get by when he's desperate.

Maggie Shiphead's debut novel, The Seating Arrangements, sounds like an updated Jane Austen novel.  I'm not a huge Austen fan, but am curious to see how this story of a long wedding weekend ends.  Somewhat sophisticated chick lit.

Quirky family dynamics are one of my favorite literary plotlines, and Kris D'Agostino's The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, seems like it could fulfill that need for me.  Almost like a book version of The Royal Tenanbaums, perhaps?

IQ84, by Haruki Murakami, came out last year, and I'm dying just over the cover.  Described as a love story mystery, it's also supposed to be incredibly well-paced.  Not an easy task for a novel that tops 900-pages.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Well, Hello World!

I cannot tell you how very excited I am to be a part of this awesome blog!  Those of you who are The Lovely Prelude followers will have seen me a couple of times before, filling in for Abbi while she is off in Mexico or Spain or somewhere amazing like that.  You may also know that we both love to eat, cook, read,  and create! 

 I will be bringing some meat (literally) to the blog recipes, and some more crafty or inspirational how-to posts.  I might even post a silly picture of my dog wearing a jacket!  How exciting!

This is my little family: my fiance, Matt, and our pup, Layla.  I get to marry Matt in about a year and a half, which gives me plenty of time to get my DIY on!  We live in Pensacola right now, which could not be more different from Abbi's life in DC; there are fairly reasonable temperatures all year round, the beach is almost always an option, and we don't get to go to nearly as many fun museum/concert/restaurant openings.  I keep myself entertained by crafting, going to the farmer's market on weekends, occasional antiquing, cooking and baking, and reading.  

I cannot wait to start sharing with all of you! 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Welcome to The Lovely Prelude, Haley! or: A Good Reason to Drink Bailey's

Y'all, I am so, so excited and happy to introduce the newest blogger to write on The Lovely Prelude...Haley!

This Floridian has a lot to bring to the electronic table: she's crafty, loves to cook (with meat!), climbs rocks in her spare time, and is, without a doubt, the coolest girl I know.
Haley is going to take over the blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays,  and we'll share on Fridays.  This means more how-to's, more recipes, and lots more fun photos to browse!  Visit tomorrow for Haley's first post- I just know you're going to love her as much as I do.

The best way I know to welcome good news is a celebratory cocktail.  It's been chilly up here in DC, which always makes me think of Bailey's.  How's this for a simple Bailey's cocktail:
1 oz. vodka, 1.5 oz Bailey's, and a pinch of cinnamon.
Combine the liquors in a shaker with lots of ice, shake up, strain into a glass, and top with the spice.  It's easy, it's festive, it's tasty!

Welcome to The Lovely Prelude, Haley!  I'm so thrilled to have you in this space!

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Week in Photos

 Teaism in Dupont Circle has delicious vegan hot chocolate.  Made with coconut milk and rice milk...yum.

 JP and I spent Saturday at Crafty Bastards craft sale at Urban Market.  How cute are these felt taxidermy creatures?!

My girl Jess was in town last weekend!  

We all (including her man) went to the Newseum Saturday afternoon, a first for me despite spending 4 years in the city.  Very, very cool!  It's a great space: Berlin Wall fragments, newspaper headlines from the past century, and a fabulous gift shop.

 And, finally, the best way to cap off any day: family cuddle time.  This is why we have a big couch.

Now, be sure to come back here bright and early on Monday for some awesome news for The Lovely Prelude...things are about to get exciting!