Wednesday, July 29, 2009

(500) days of kinda blah

(500) Days of Summer was a kinda cute movie about two extremely adorable people who kinda fall in love. Kinda.

The story is nice, though it's definitely been told before. The structure of the film, the flipping back and forth between days, was kinda neat and added some suspense. The artistic shots of LA were beautiful. But, I felt like there was something missing from the movie. There were a few too many gimmicks (a voice-over, really?) and Zooey Deschanel's character was kinda boring, a bit too cliche, and totally predictable.

That being said, both she and Joseph Gordon Levitt are completely crushworthy individuals, who are quite possibly the most photogenic young people in Hollywood. And, they are both also really good actors, which is what made the movie kind of blah for me. I couldn't help feeling like it could have been so much better if the lead characters had more of a back story and they weren't so one dimensional.

There was one movie highlight though, the musical number featuring Joseph Gordon Levitt dancing parade style through a park. So super cute.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shot Through the Heart

Everyone that has seen the infomercial on late night TV knows that the Magic Bullet has a pretty unfortunate name. However, it's still a fantastic kitchen appliance, especially if you sometimes cook meals just for yourself or are part of the "dinner for two" crowd.

This summer, while I've been living with Alex in his apartment, I've had to do without my superfluous kitchen appliances. My Magic Bullet blender is one of the things I have missed the most. It doesn't chop as well as the infomercial would have you believe, but it does do a fantastic job of blending. Whether it be individual smoothies, pancake batter for two, or quick and easy single serving pasta sauces, the Magic Bullet is a whiz at whipping up meals for a small crowd. It's also great for apartment kitchens because it really does only take up the amount of counter space that a coffee cup would!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today is a lovely day to run

This coming weekend, Alex and I are finally moving in to our new apartment! We can't wait. Alex calls it moving to the suburbs because we won't be right in Central Square anymore. I think it's pretty funny because we are moving a whole 5 blocks from our current apartment.

Moving is always overwhelming and stressful, but it's also very exciting. Making a new place our home, decorating it together the way we want it, and I'm particularly excited about getting all of my things out of storage. I've missed my Magic Bullet and my Cupcake Courier like you wouldn't believe.

We are almost ready to go, we spent this past weekend packing, staining all of our new furniture, and painting our chairs to match our table. I can't wait to feature all of our handy work once we have room to take pictures of the final products. Our apartment is quite a mess at the moment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

As the days keep turning into night

Dinner and a movie is a classic date night stand by. On Friday night, Alex and I went on a double date with Kristina and Todd to the Friendly Toast and the Kendall Square Cinema.

The Friendly Toast, a Portsmouth NH institution, has opened a location in Cambridge. They serve really good breakfast all day and have a full bar. What more could you ask for? Well I suppose slightly better service. Just like NH, the Cambridge location has a slew of unfriendly, hipster waiters and waitresses who move at a snails pace, but the kitsch decor keeps you entertained while you wait. Plus, hipsters love irony and nothing is more ironic than working in a restaurant called The Friendly Toast when you are too cool for school!


After dinner, we headed over to the Kendall Square Cinema and saw Away We Go, a sweet little film about a couple traveling the country to find the perfect place to raise their first child. When it comes to movies, there are a few things that always get me. I love movies that are pretty to watch, have interestingly beautiful soundtracks, and are realistically humorous. Away We Go satisfied on all fronts. It isn't a major block buster. There were parts I wasn't sure flowed all that gracefully. All and all though, it was a pretty little movie. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are both adorable, portraying a very-much-in-love couple, not quite sure about becoming grown-ups. The film also stars a few of my favorites: Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Catherine O’Hara, who provide comic relief and maternal instincts gone awry.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I got sunshine on a cloudy day

When we finished our table, a lot of people asked us why we didn't seal it after we painted it. You guys are good and I appreciate the advice! We actually planned to seal it, but before we did, we wanted to add a personal decorative touch.

A few months ago, Alex and I found this tutorial by Darling Knees for customizing a dining room table on Apartment Therapy. We loved it so we decided to go for it. We bought a Sharpie White Paint Pen from Pearl Art, sat down, and went crazy. After we were done with our design we bought some satin finish polyurethane sealant and gave it a nice smooth coat!

Ta da!







Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I found love in the spring and I did not lose a thing

Our little garden has grown considerably since Alex brought Georgia home for our anniversary back in May. She has been joined by a echeveria, an orange star, and some other kind of succulent (a birthday gift from Allie!)

At first, it looked a little sad. The orange star just up and died completely, both succulents lost some leaves, and Georgia shed all of her pretty pink flowers. I thought they were all done for!

Things started looking up a few weeks ago though when Allie's plant started to bloom into these gorgeous flower like leaves. Then, I poked around in Georgia's leaves and saw that she has some new flower buds. Then yesterday, I noticed something really exciting. Our dead orange star, who I've just kept watering in hopes of a resurrection, sprouted a bright green leaf up from the dirt!

Maybe there is still hope for my little plants. I bet they can't wait to move either. They'll have their own little roof deck in the new place with lots of sun!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The winner of tonight's mystery meat contest is Jeffrey Corbin who guessed "some kind of beef"

I spent a week with my sister after my nephew was born helping her around the house. It was so much fun for me to get to spend time with my newborn nephew, but it also gave me a chance to hang out with my sister and pick up some great recipes.

Just before he was born, she made about 20 different kinds of soup and froze them so that she would have easy to grab food around. Cooking is not really a first priority with a newborn in the house. One of the soups we ate a few times that week was Rachel Ray's Mini Meatball Soup. It is super delicious and healthy. I've made it a few times since and I love it.

With all the rain we've been having lately, I thought I'd whip up a batch for me and Alex to have for dinner.

Mini Meatball Soup (by Rachel Ray from The Food Network)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef, pork and veal combined
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, a couple of handfuls
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups dried pasta
  • 1 pound triple washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
Directions
  1. In a deep pot over medium heat add oil, chopped carrots, celery and onions and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pot and cook veggies 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the veggies cook, combine meat, egg, garlic, grated cheese, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg in a mixing bowl.
  3. Uncover your soup pot and add broth and water to the pot. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil.
  4. When soup boils, reduce heat a bit and start to roll meat mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot. You are making meat dumplings that will cook in the broth.
  5. When you are done rolling the meat, add pasta to the soup and stir.
  6. Cover and simmer soup 10 minutes. When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach in batches.
  7. When spinach has wilted into the soup, the soup is done and ready to serve.









Monday, July 20, 2009

Once in your life, maybe tonight

On Friday, Alex came home from work and asked me to marry him. I said yes, so now we are engaged!

It's all pretty exciting and I'm so extremely happy. We had a romantic weekend getaway and then came home to celebrate with wonderful family, friends, and champagne! I really couldn't ask for a more perfect life. I'm a very lucky person!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I does this cause I love this

On one of our first dates, Alex and I were sitting at the Silhouette Lounge in Allston, drinking beers, and talking about our favorite music. I told him that I really liked this band called the 2 Skinnee J's, but that they had broken up and he probably hadn't heard of them. He looked at me and said, "the 2 Skinnee J's are my favorite band."

I knew then that it was meant to be. So last summer, when Alex and I decided to move in together this summer, we bought ourselves our first housewarming present: the 2SJ's Big Green Book. Not exactly the most practical purchase, but it was something we both really wanted.

The Big Green Book features 6 Discs (5 Audio CDs + 1 DVD) and a 200+ page full-color book detailing a J by J story of all the drama. The discs include all of the 2SJ's music, dozens of unreleased, live, and rare bonus tracks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Let them eat bread

This recipe for Lemon Bread by Randi at I Have to Say is one of my all time favorite recipes.

First, you all know that I love anything lemon flavored. Second, it's just so simple and delicious. And lastly, it gets better the longer it sits. The first few days, it's definitely bread. Best eaten for breakfast warmed up with some butter. Then the last few days, it's kind of like cake, Best eaten with a fork, after dinner for dessert. It's a very strange phenomenon, but one I'm not going to question because it is so yummy!

Lemon Bread (by Randi at I Have to Say)
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. shredded lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice, divided
  • 1 TB. sugar
Directions
  1. Stir together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl combine the egg, milk, oil, and 1 TB. lemon juice.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and stir until combined.
  4. Add the shredded lemon peel and stir.
  5. Pour batter into greased 8X4X2 inch loaf pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean.
  7. While the bread is baking, stir the 2 TB. lemon juice and 1 TB. sugar together.
  8. Sugar should be dissolved before brushing on the bread.
  9. When the bread is done, brush the lemon juice mixture on the bread
  10. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove.
  11. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  12. Wrap the bread in a ziplock plastic bag to store. The flavor gets better as it sits.







Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Good Day Sunshine

About a month ago, Alex and I started looking for a bed spread for our new apartment. We looked everywhere, but we couldn't seem to find anything that wasn't floral or plaid that we could agree upon.

Looking through Apartment Therapy posts, we finally found a quilt on The Purl Bee that we both fell in love with. When we looked to see where we could buy it, we were a little sad to find out that it was handmade. Lucky for us, a tutorial was included and I know how to sew!

I'd never sewn a quilt before, so it was a little intimidating, but I think it came out pretty well. Hopefully it stays together when we wash it. That will be the first test!

Sunny Tied Quilt (from The Purl Bee by Molly)
  • eleven fabrics, of your choice, totaling 6 3/4 yards
  • 3 1/2 yards 108 inch wide muslin
  • 1 queen size quilters cotton batting
  • 1 tapestry needle
  • 1 skein 100% wool yarn, in a coordinating color
  • 1 spool white cotton thread
  • 1 spool cotton thread, in a coordinating color
Directions

Choosing Fabric

Alex and I picked an assortment of eleven fabrics in greens, yellows, oranges, and divided them into solid fabrics, bold color fabrics, and fabrics we loved. We started with 1 yard of each of the fabrics that we loved, a 1/2 yard of each of the bold fabrics, and a 1/4 of a yard of each of the solid fabrics. We chose to get white muslin for the backing, gold yarn, and green thread.





















Preparing and Cutting Fabric

Wash, dry and press fabric. The quilt is pieced in strips of fabric cut from selvage to selvage. I wanted to try to have each of the fabrics represented twice on each side (so I needed at least 4 strips of each fabric.) The directions said to cut all of the solid fabrics into strips, selvage to selvage, in a range of widths from 2 1/2-inches to 4 1/2-inches. All of mine were 2 1/2 inches each. Next, cut all of the bold colored into strips, selvage to selvage, in a range of widths from 4 1/2-inches to 7 1/2-inches. Lastly, cut all of the favorite fabrics into strips, selvage to selvage, in a range of widths from 6 1/2-inches to 12 1/2-inches.











Sewing and Quilting

Pick any two strips to start with. Lay your first piece of fabric down flat and place your second piece of fabric on top of it, right sides together. Line up the top selvages and pin together.











Sew with a 1/4 seam allowance and press your seam open.











Finish your seams by running a zigzag stitch down each seam allowance. This will prevent your seams from fraying with normal wear and tear.











At the bottom of the strips, you will find that all the strips are different lengths. The original fabrics the strips were cut from are all slightly different widths so that's what happens. Don't worry about it, you will take care of this uneven edge in the next step. Just make sure that you have one straight side and that all of your uneven edges are on the other side











Pick out another strip and sew it to the previous strip as above. Continue piecing strips together like this until your piece measures at least 91-inches long (we decided to go a little further since eventually we are hoping to get a Queen sized bed.) This is the first half of the top. Next, measure the length of your shortest strip. Trim the uneven side of the quilt to the length of your shortest strip. Now you'll have two straight sides!











Piece the second half of the top the same as the first. Once you have 2 91-inch pieces of fabric all sewn together. Pin the two halves right sides together along one of the 91-inch sides.











Sew together with a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Finish your seams by running a zigzag stitch down each seam allowance.











Now you have the top half of your quilt. Look how pretty. Now on to backing.











Backing the Quilt

Start by cutting your muslin into a 99-inch by 89-inch piece and place it on a clean patch of floor. Smooth your muslin down and flatten as much as possible. Place batting in the center of the muslin. Unfold the batting on top of the muslin and smooth it down gently from the center out. Trim it so that it's about 2-inches from the edge of the muslin backing all the way around.
Place your quilt top, right side up, on top of your batting and smooth it out gently from the center, it should be 2-inches from the edge of the batting and 4-inches from the edge of the backing.











Starting from the middle of the quilt mark the top with the Water Soluble Pen every 6 1/2-inches in a grid (vertical and horizontal.)











Thread a tapestry needle with the yarn. Start on one side, at the middle of the quilt. Sew a 1/4-inch stitch through the first marked point on the edge. then pull the yarn through and take another stitch at the next marked point. Sew across an entire row of marked points, leaving slack in between each stitch. At the end of the row cut the yarn, leaving a long tail at each end. Sew every row of marked points. It's very important that you sew through all three layers during this step.











Cut the midpoints of the slack on all your stitches. Tie each stitch tightly with a square knot.











Trim the batting to meet the quilt top by sliding a cutting mat in-between the batting and the backing. Go all the way around the four sides of the quilt top. Lastly, cut the backing so that it's 1 1/2 from the edge of the quilt top all the way around.











Beginning at one of the corners, fold one edge of the backing fabric in half toward the quilt top and press. Fold the perpendicular side in half as well and press.











Fold in the point of the corner at a 45 degree angle .











To finish fold the sides in towards the quilt top once more and pin the edges in place. The sides should meet to form a neat corner. Pin all four sides down in this way, by folding them in half and then over towards the quilt top.











Use a wide zig zag stitch and colored thread to sew along the edge where the binding meets the quilt top. When you come to the corner sew 1/4-inch past the corner and stop, leaving your needle in the fabric. Then take a few back stitches to the corner, leave your needle in down position, pick up the foot and pivot the quilt to begin sewing the next side. Repeat at remaining 3 corners and your done.











Ta da! Our first quilt is finally finished.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Chocolate and cherry are the two best dessert flavors ever in my opinion. I'm not a huge chocolate lover, but pair it up with cherries and it's always going to be my favorite.

I've been wanting to bake something with cherries and chocolate for a long time. I decided to start small with some Chocolate Cherry NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Cookies. These are basically the same as the original recipe that you find on the back of NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® chocolate chips, but with the added kick of cherries and white chocolate.

We had a bbq at work today and these went over like gang busters!

Chocolate Cherry NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (substitute with 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup white chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (substitute 1 cup dried cherries)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  6. Stir in morsels and nuts (or cherries!)
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.