Friday, December 16, 2011

Living with a Boy

I recently started texting certain friends with installments of what I like to call “Living with a Boy”, or in other words, snapshots of the moments of sheer speechlessness that are sometimes associated with living with a boy.

Example: “Living with a Boy Chapter 53: Entire house smells like mini tacos.”

Or, Example: “Living with a Boy Chapter 4: soaking his shoes in Coca Cola to remove bar floor gunk.”

Why do I preface my texts to friends with chapter names? Your question is beside the point.

Don’t get me wrong, JC is lovely, wonderful and pure preciousness. He’s also such… a boy.

Chapter 17:  Any opportunities to turn apartment into dorm building are seized. 

In a way I see where they are coming from here. College was a pretty rad time. And maybe making the place feel a little more frat house and a little less Pottery Barn helps the male psyche.

Do you guys remember in college how if you were unfortunate enough to leave your clothes in the dryer a millisecond too long, the freshman in line behind you would pull the old dry & dash on you? And you’d find a clump of your clothes on the nearest surface?

Welp, I came home from work yesterday to find my clothes from the dryer tossed haphazardly into a basket beside the dryer. JC was not home – a wise man. His message to me was received loud and clear, not dissimilar to those freshman girls from days past: You might think you run this joint, but think again.

Oh lessons.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Things that are True

This weekend, 12 close friends and I stayed in a cell phone receptionless cabin in the middle of the woods of Loganville, Wisconsin. Where is Loganville? I still have no idea. 

Our original intention was to chop down our own Christmas trees a la Christmas Vacation. But soon the focus shifted to family style meals, climbing rafters and rooms with bear mummies. 

Oh and not getting murdered in the woods. 

Amidst wooden framed photos of the bizarre strangers we were renting from was the wooden plaque above. 

I was suddenly so overwhelmed by the fact that JC & I are adults living in a huge city and have still managed to find a group of 10+ friends who feel more like family. I am the kind of person who, when struck by such thoughts, is not above blubbering like a baby in front of everyone. Sorrs.

Enjoy the little things 
for one day
you may look back
and realize
they were the big things. 

The second thing that is true is that vodka, despite its ability to disguise itself inside friendly, innocent red & green holiday jello, is not my friend. But that is neither here nor there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stages of Bridal Thanksgiving Grief

This is comin' atcha a little later. Sorrs.

Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, everyone was drooling over tomorrow's turkey and gravy and post-meal stretch pants (or no pants?)

Everyone except for me.

Why, you ask? Because in 6 months I'll be photographed approximately 3,000 times. Fellow brides, back me up here. It's the only day of my entire life when I'll see more flashing lights than every Kardashian combined, and I'm expected to frame these pictures and oogle over them for the rest of my existence.

Plus I may or may not have fibbed about my measurements while ordering my dress. Turns out 2 inches is kind of a big deal (who knew?)

But don't worry about my waistline. I have a strategy, people. Have you ever heard of the stages of grief? This situation is no different. I intend to mourn just the way any grieving person would properly go about these things, so in the words of a true fat kid masquerading as a thin bride, here we go.

Stage 1: Complaint Assault aka "Why Me?"

But I LOVE stuffing! But I LOVE sweet potato casserole! It's only socially acceptable to eat pumpkin pie during a very narrow window of time each year and I have a long, deep-seeded passion with this autumnal calorie bomb. Plus what if I never get to taste its nutmeggy magic ever again? Why is life so hard?

Stage 2: Positive [Skeptical] Self-Talk 

I can do this, I can do this! I can do this? I can do this.

Step 3: Masochistic Imaginary Torture

If I can't eat stuffing, I'll pretend to eat stuffing. It's delicious. BUTTER

Step 4: Pretend Everything Tastes Really, Really Bad

Step 5: Forfeiture/Acceptance of Food Coma

Aka .... I'll just go to the gym tomorrow.

You win some, you lose some. Eat up, friends.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Alter Ego

Want to hear a fun fact about me that might both surprise and puzzle you?

I have a long, passionate slightly awkward history with dance. And no, that picture is not of me. 

I am aware that this fact is true of most chicks. Many of us took the obligatory ballet classes, donned the fabulous gold shimmery leotards, and hopped around on a stage at the infamous recital, which only a parent could sit through and enjoy. 

The part that you might describe as "surprising" is that my childhood flirtation with dance mutated into a funky hip hop obsession in my adult life. On second thought, if you know me maybe this is not all that surprising. I've certainly been known to overtake a dance floor and whip my hair back n forth on more than one occasion. 

The dance fever bug happens to be contagious. 

"Steph Dance"

Even my fiance can't escape the infamous, you guessed it, Steph Dance. 

You get the picture. When I die, at least people can say I was influential in that I inspired people to impersonate my wild and scary dance moves. 

I digress. Promise this is going somewhere. Back to hip hop. 

I decided to take my affair with recreational dance parties to the next level when I started taking hip hop classes 2 days a week during college. 

I did the moon walk. I could bust out an entire number choreographed to Ke$ha's "Tik Tok." I learned the steps to "Single Ladies" and shook my booty like a regular Beyonce. I was a natural. 

Plus, my class happened to fall on a Thursday, the storied evening each week when fellow diligent Notre Dame students would hit the classiest club in town. After spending an hour pretending I was the star of a music video, I was all warmed up and ready to take on the dance cage each week.

Fast forward to graduation, a time to become an adult, a real person. No more funny business, just real business. So I dropped the shenanigans and business lady I became - which also meant my alter ego disappeared. 

UNTIL. Until last Wednesday. My booty shaking, sassy-faced alter ego reappeared with a vengeance! I have a soon expiring Groupon to a dance studio blocks from house, so the excuses had to come to an end. I slapped on my leggings and my converse. I was ready for action. 

Then I stepped in the studio and remembered that this was downtown Chicago, home of real hip hop dancers with baggy cargos and red mohawks. 

I don't think we're in South Bend, Indiana anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friendship, we gots it.

If you're anything like us, you might describe friendship as David Bowie.

Or obsessively following our favorite football team to our nation's capitol (note: not the same as "capital" - whodda thunk?) for an absolutely unimportant game

Or taking a swig of cider every time R. Kelly swears or pulls out, points or shoots a gun in his acclaimed Hip Hopera, Trapped in the Closet on a perfectly normal Saturday afternoon in Alexandria, VA

Or risking wind burn while bundled at a chilly fall football game, spicing up hot chocolate with smuggled whipped cream vodka. What else are emptied out B12 vitamin bottles good for anyways? I happen to believe in recycling.

Or, if you lean a little more towards, let's say.. normal humans, you might describe friendship as a few souls separated after years at each other's sides during some pretty influential and fuzzy years, sprinkled over the continental U.S.

It's those souls never forgetting how they are bound, coming together 

despite the miles, despite coming from school and service programs and the ever moving business world

It's making time, and it's belly laughs, it's simply getting each other without having to try

It is effortless.

And I couldn't be more grateful that these people exist, even though corn fields and deserts separate me from one, while the state of Ohio separates me from the other (I know - obstacles.)

SEK <3

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Bakers vs. Cooks

Is it just me, or is there a sort of unspoken tension between those who consider themselves "cooks", and those who consider themselves "bakers"?

The Cook. So pretentious. So over zealous and arrogant. Proclaiming baking as a "limiting" trade due to its precise measurements and recipes, the cook has given up on the oven after one too many bubbling messes oozing out of the loaf pan like lava where a toasty cranberry walnut loaf should have been. With a need to improvise and take mistakes back, cooks are simultaneously creative and clumsy.

The Baker. We all know this person. That one chick in the office or at the tailgate who prides herself on being "the one" people turn to for cookies, cupcakes and other bread-like products. Mysteriously, she is always a rail. Someone explain that to me. Needless to say, everyone likes this person, which makes her skinniness that much more obnoxious. Also, it's not uncommon for the baker to despise any type of cooking that does not involve eggs, an oven and complicated icing techniques.

You might be asking yourself, "Where do I fit in?" Chances are you know exactly which personality fits you. And if you're not sure, you either A. Kind of suck at both of these things or B. Might be a little bit like me.

You see, I grew up in a house ruled by The Cook's iron, chicken-wielding fist. The woman can COOK. But, do I have memories of fragrant pies sitting out on the window sill to cool, or fresh oatmeal raisin cookies waiting for me to devour at the end of a particularly math-filled school day? Negative. In fact, my memories of her homemade sweets are limited to the holidays - I'm talking pumpkin pie, apple pie. That might be the extent of it.

Two reasons for this, I hypothesize. 1: My mother is 5'4 and <110 pounds. Yet, a girl after my own heart, she was famed for hiding in the pantry as a child eating cherry pie filling out the can. Do you think a person with that sort of dedication to sweets can keep fresh baked goods around? That's a physical impossibility. Reason #2: My mother has a complete aversion to mess. We are talking vacuum once a day, sparkling counter tops type aversion here. She always argued, Baking is so messy. Flour, flour everywhere. She, of course, had a point - which has a lot to do with being a mom, I think.

So where do I fit in?

Not surprisingly, and much to my fortune, I take after Mom - and a natural cook I became. Truly, I hadn't given baking a chance. Until I remembered: the mess. The dreaded, baking mess. A mess which for me, the clumsy cook, leaving a path of soiled dishes and numerous spills behind me, tends to be immeasurably larger than other bakers'. But I'm kind of a hot mess myself, so is it strange to assume that baking and I go together better than I once assumed?

One thing I've learned about baking: it does not afford the baker the luxury to "screw up" the way that cooking does, which is very frustrating to the baker and disappointing to the bake-ee. There are no mistakes in baking. There are lots of mistakes -- and solutions -- in cooking. That works out pretty well for someone like me, who tends to zone out while sauteing and starts thinking about that scene from Star Wars where Luke Skywalker climbs into that weird horse looking creature's body for warmth in the middle of the tundra. Pull a move like that during baking? There is no going back.

To the point. Today I made these. 

Pumpkin Brownie Swirl Bread/Mini Muffin/Too Sweet & Great To Be Called "Bread" Things.

Combination of Trader Joe's Genius & Lawfully Wedded Wife's Brainchild. Make them. No seriously.

Oh, and about the "having too many fresh baked goods" around issue. Turns out that, when you work in an office, sweet treats aren't nearly as tough to get rid of as Mom thought. So that's how those baker girls do it!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Today, I am reflecting back on the weekend and can't help but feel completely satisfied with its diverse events.

Friday brought an induglent Mexican dinner, and a food coma that resulted in my eyelids shutting at 10pm as the World Series came to a close (seriously, I was doing the one-eye-open TV watch. I'll blame it on the delicious margaritas.) After a colossal-sized sleep, Saturday morning I made pumpkin crepes as inspired by Fitnessista and made it out to the lake shore for a perfect temperature run. I was in good company as many costumed folks were running the Monster Dash half marathon. Afterwards was a good old fashioned football watching day, and JC & I tested out margarita recipes and ended our day with sushi & sake :)

Then came last night's Halloween party at a good friend's house.

I have never really been particularly "into" Halloween. Yeah it's fun to dress up but hello, every single party I ever went to in college had a theme, so that doesn't exactly thrill me. I happen to love candy, so Halloween has got that much going for it. But all in all, I've never really seen it as a "holiday" per say, or something to look forward to much more than other weekends.

This year was definitely different. First, I carved a pumpkin, and I haven't dug my hands into gooey pumpkin guts for at least a few years. Next, I just found myself getting many more chuckles than usual out of early Halloween ghosts, ghouls and goofballs I saw roaming the streets of Chicago. It just seemed to strike me as much more hilarious and awesome than years past. I think maybe this whole "taking time to smell the roses" thing is really working for me :)

The Halloween party was all we could have hoped for.

Awesome friends 

Clearly no one took the dressing up thing lightly, which I adore. 

And amazing memories made with my turkey.

Sunday was spent putting the house in order, stocking up on groceries and watching creepy Dexter in true Halloween spirit. I'm strangely OK with the back to the grind thing this week.

I think JC may have just hit the nail on the head when he proclaimed that this might be his favorite Halloween ever. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Foodie Friday: Chicken "Spaghetti" Bake

It's Friday!!!

Lots of fun things on the docket for the weekend, including Mexican dinner date, Notre Dame vs. Navy, and I get to be a zombie bride.

I hereby name today, "Foodie Friday." Partially because I'd rather focus on real food as I sit here staring at a pumpkin bucket of Halloween goodies I brought for my new hires. Mostly because I was raving about spaghetti squash earlier this week, and I feel like that was a little bit of a tease for anybody who might be reading. So, thought I'd share the deliciousness that is super healthy, my guy is obsessed with, AND yields a huge portion per serving.

I've estimated each ginormo serving to weigh in at about 470 healthy calories. You won't believe how much food you get for the calories.

Chicken "Spaghetti" Bake 
Adapted from author Cynthia Sass

Serves 4

4 cups spaghetti squash, cooked
1 cup spinach
1 cup mushrooms
3/4 lb ground chicken, cooked
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups marinara sauce (low sodium & natural, if possible)
~1/4 C green onion, chopped
8 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
4 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use 21 seasoning salute)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half length-wise and chop off the ends. Place both halves on a foil-lined baking sheet, squash-side down, and bake for 50 minutes.

Remove from oven, and flip the halves over so squash side now faces up. Let cool while you cook up the ground chicken.

Now the fun part. First, use a spoon to remove all seeds from your squash halves. Don't be afraid of getting rid of too much "meat" - there's still plenty to be had. Once that's done, use a spoon to carve out your "spaghetti" strands, and load up 4 cups into a lasagna pan. 

Add quinoa, marinara sauce and italian seasoning to the pan. When well-mixed, fold in chicken, spinach, mushrooms & green onion. 

Cover pan with foil and cook for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil, sprinkle with walnuts, and cook for another 3 minutes. 

Remove. Plate up. Stuff yourself. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lucky in Love [Birds]

Last night JC hit up the hardware store and acquired the appropriate tools to hang our brand new paintings ...

... and he made me the happiest little bird in all the land. 

I am OBSESSED with these "Lucky in Love" paintings by Judy Paul from World Market. Not only are we incorporating a subtle "lucky in love" theme for our wedding, but these guys are just the perfect motif for our little nest. 

A velvety little brown chair recently made our family room its home, and we incorporated the funkiest pillow to dress that guy up. My favorite redhead did not agree with the pillow choice, but it just so happens to look amazeballs now that our birds are living on the wall. 

Yeah, I win.

It wasn't the easiest day ever today. By the time I traipsed through the front door and threw my things down, I had the immense weighty feeling that I had been too negative this afternoon. But then I had wine and brie with JC in our warm little home, and I remembered tomorrow we start all over again.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Pizza Party

Yesterday was an especially pleasant day - I was told twice that I looked very nice, which was a double score considering my outfit was extremely comfy. Also ended the work day with some serious belly laughs as the co-workers and I took part in some hilarious filming for some interviews we're conducting.

But above all, today, I am grateful for the pizza & pumpkin carving contest JC & I had last night.

We ordered a delicious take & bake from Homemade Pizza Co. It was superb - whole wheat crust veggie pie, barbeque chicken on his side, spinach on her side. As I've mentioned before, I normally steer clear of traditional pizza, not because I'm a fun-hater, but because I don't LOVE it enough to justify the way it makes me feel. Not the case with a "real" pizza - one made from simple ingredients, with a whole wheat crust. This one really hit the spot. I just wish they delivered to our house! 

After picking up the pizza, we headed to Mariano's to pick out our pumpkins for our first annual carving contest. 

We really took it seriously. There was even a Halloween soundtrack to accompany our carving.

We cut open all of those paper grocery bags that John insists we keep in the crevice between the counter and the wall (I am guessing he does that for occasions like this one.) We spread them on the floor and we (read: I) still managed to make a pretty serious mess. 

But the result was impressive if I do say so -  I felt pretty proud of my owl...

And JC's Frankenstein is lookin' pretty surly ... 

I really thought there would be a clear winner, but I just love both of our squash faces.

You can even see them from across the street - look in the window! 

Owlman is steaming up the window :) 

It was one of those nights when I truly felt all was well in the world - sometimes, it is easy to become frustrated or grumpy with our loved ones, especially the ones we live with. But tonight was one of those times when I was 100% ecstatic to be having a mid-week night in with my guy, and I wouldn't have spent it with anyone else. 

After the festivities we finished a movie we had started last night, and of course I had some pumpkin ice cream to go along with it because truly, when it comes to all things pumpkin, go big or go home. We went big. And it was honestly such a perfect evening. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Tights & City Lights

Today I am really grateful that I pushed myself into an outdoor run last night.

It didn't really hurt that these bad boys were patiently awaiting me when I got home.

My first ever lulu lemon purchase, and let me just say: Oh Baby. 

Don't get me wrong, I have heard the drooly murmurings from those lulu lemon owners I have come into contact with in the past. But, it just seemed too good to be true. I mean really, $68 for a fancy pair of leggings? As if, said the gym novice version of myself. The truth is, shorts are OK for summertime, but they get really annoying during the winter (read: who wants to shave her legs? We have to take the few perks that Chicago winters afford us.) I of course own my fair share of $12 Target leggings, and while I would never say an ill word about any such sensible purchase, I'm not sure I want the entire gym nor every person in Millenium Park to see my aqua blue undies through my leggings. 

Enter, the lulu lemon Wonder Under. They were advertised as "like a second skin". At this, I scoffed. Please. It's a legging. False! It's a dream. So bendy. So weightless. Yet snug enough to make a girl feel... enough structure to feel clothed :) 

I was really excited when I slipped these tighties on, and then, once I had snuggled into my new, slightly outrageous purchase, I remembered why I bought them. Not just because I am a hard working lady who deserves the quiet comfort of a sharp pair of athleticwear. But also because I have read numerous studies pointing out that owning work out clothes that make you feel good are more likely to support a working out habit. Fancy that! 

Instead of working out intermittently, I'd really like to develop a healthier, more intimate relationship with sweat, cardio and dumbbells. So, Wonder Under I purchased. And once I had them on, I knew I had no excuse not to put them to the test. 

Verdict? They were a dream -- almost as dreamy as the little run I had. 

I stopped for a moment to capture a slice of Chicago skyline through the spooky Octobery trees in Millenium Park. 

The temperature was more than I could ask for - 60's, a little breezy. I certainly was not the only person taking advantage, and it felt nice to be in the comfort of many other runners, bikers and aspiring athletes sporting their new work out gear.

Looking towards Navy Pier on the lake front path. 

I know some people are crazy about running - this, I have never understood. I kind of hope I will understand that some day. But for now, I am just a girl running a little less than 2 miles in her sassy new work out crops, feeling lucky and blessed to be huffing and puffing with this beautiful city as a backdrop. 

Today when I feel frustrated or stressed I will remind myself how invigorating and peaceful the city lights seemed against the dark lake as I breezed by, feeling like I was going so fast. It was nice to be outside. I know I will miss that soon enough.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Refocusing ... and Squash Lovin'

I know I haven't blogged in approximately forever. For this, I apologize. I know I had a couple loyal readers and I truly appreciate you precious pumpkins! The honest truth is, I felt my little bloggy had gotten away from what I intended it to be originally. I wanted it to be a reflection of myself and a mirror for my happiness - I wanted to be able to house all of the small things that happen each day that make me grateful, so that when things get a little hard I have a place to remind me why stress isn't important. But I really got away from that concept because I think I started "safe blogging", or writing about topics that I was hoping others would be interested in, instead of focusing on what interests me. So that's what I'm going to do now. And if you read along, awesome! And if you don't, that's OK, too. You see, one of my life goals at this moment is to live my life the way I want to - not the way that I think I am supposed to, or in the way that I believe others would like me to. It is a hard thing, but I'm pushing myself because I think it will bring me a new level of fulfillment.

Today I am grateful for ... 

Spaghetti Squash!  

Is it bizarre that an autumnal squash is making me smile through the work day today? Probably, unless you know me, and are familiar with my anything-fall obsession. When you know that, I guess the spaghetti squash affair is just another drop in the weirdo bucket.

I love spaghetti squash because it's fun to cook with 

You just bake it for half a century, let it cool and voila, the squash comes out like noodles when you scoop with a spoon. 

I love spaghetti squash because it is healthy. One 4 oz serving has approximately 37 calories. Take that, carbalicious regular spaghetti!

I have an awesome recipe for spaghetti squash that JC loves, so crafting dinners that are fun, nutritious AND receive the fiance seal of approval is always the ultimate slam dunk. I can't wait to go home and get my 'sghetti squash on! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

I think it's love: Pastoral Artisan

Who's having a molasses-esque Monday morning? I know it's not just me. Admit it!

As per usual these days, I have a slammed work day ahead of me and a baseball game tonight with my girl KMac (GO BRAVES!!!), so I'll keep this short and sweet.

Very sweet ... and... DELICIOUS.

I am talking about none other than Pastoral, the house of amazingness that I am proud to call my next door neighbor.

That's right - neighbor. 

If you're a Chicagoan and haven't yet had the immense pleasure of introducing yourself to Pastoral, please drop what you're doing and go eat lunch there. 

It's as though wine & cheese got together and had a glorious love child in the form of a little shop. I am aware that wine and cheese is not an entirely original combination, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Pastoral takes an old friendship and turns it into a modern day romance. 

Walls of wine - amazing varieties, quirky beers, and convenient picnic packs. I accept. 

The chamber of cheeses

Cheese from cows, cheese from goats, cheese from sheep, cheese from Wisconsin, cheese from Sweden. You name it and the cheese ninjas at Pastoral have got it, ready to give you a sample and watch knowingly as you nearly cry out in wonderment. 

But what really puts this place over the top ... 

Oh yeah. They serve up uhhmazing sandwiches and salads, such as the tasty treat pictured above. This monster is actually a side salad - and costs right around $4!! Mixed greens, goat cheese, tomatoes, spiced almonds (!!!) and balsamic dressing. A perfect Cinch! meal. 

I also tried a sandwich of the vegetarian variety, spread with goat cheese, almond butter and avocado. That sandwich is not pictured because it was too busy being shoveled into my face... apologies.

I'm deeply in foodie love with this place, and am so grateful to have their charm oozing into my apartment from next door. 

What makes a great local spot in your town?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weds-Day: Flunking Pre-Cana

Today, I had a realization. 

I'm getting married. In like ... less than 300 days. 

If you think I don't know that this sounds bizarre, that's not true. I know. I know it sounds bizarre. And it has nothing to do with not being excited - in fact, I think I'd say it's the opposite. I've had so much fun just reveling in the idea of getting married, it's tough to motivate myself to do actual work. 

Especially when the "work" looks like this:

The word that comes to mind is ... "Daunting."

And trust me, I know it sounds like play, but some of it is downright WORK. 

In reality, I believe I've "completed" more than "14" (I hope. Dear God how I hope.) 

So in the true spirit of fun, I have decided to focus on this most pressing task this weekend:

Gulp. We've really put this one off. Which is ironic, considering how important said task is where we're tying the knot.

But, this box is an espeically crucial one to check off, so check off we will. Along with choosing our officiant comes the both deeply meaningful and deeply dreadful premarital counseling, known to us Catholics as pre-cana, aka the spilling of guts in order to make sure we are not only feeling love vibes but also that we don't have crazy different goals leading us to the mutual biting off of heads later in life.

A close girly friend of my tried to perk me up about this particularly non-glamorous (but important!!) task by encouraging me to "have fun with it." I liked this advice much in the way I like the idea of attempting to eat 10 salentine crackers in 1 minute - sounds easy, but can it be done?!

The whole fun bit got me thinking: People do this counseling stuff on the regular... wonder how the starlets of America (& not America) would stack up against the stiff, holy judgment? If I were the guy wearing the robe (or a guy in general), here's how my picks would grade.

5. Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie - C

Are these two for real, or do they just secretly wish Mr. & Mrs. Smith was constantly playing on loop? I vote the latter. Your kids are cute guys, but no amount of cuddly nuggets are going to keep your mugs off the tabloids.

4. Simba & Nala - A 

Girlfriend knows how to keep a dude in line. Even though these two rely on lyrical conversation in order to communicate, I'm giving them a straight up A.

3.  Prince William Arthur Philip Louis & Kate Middleton - C+

I understand it's beyond tempting to give these two high marks at first blush, but a seasoned pre-cana-er knows better. 
Let's face it, I think Kate tied the knot just so she could sell all of her clothes on ebay every time she wears something in public.

(This grade brought to you by complete and total princess jealousy.)

2. Simon & Tamra Barney (of The Real Housewives of OC) - B+

Don't be fooled by that nasty divorce! You know a couple's got a lot going for them when the only way to keep life interesting is to throw dog leashes at one another and get each other arrested for said dog leashing throwing. Keep up the good work, lovebirds!

1. Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola & Ronnie Ortiz-Magro of Jersey Shore - F

I'm sorry. There's just nothing I can say to justify anything above an F for these two, even as a joke... Once you throw your girlfriend's twin bed mattress onto an outdoor porch in rage and cry enough tears to collectively fill the Hoover Dam, I just think it's time to say "Sayonara!"  

Which Hollywood stars fail pre-cana the hardest? Raise your hand if you think JC & I will flunk! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Magical Mushrooms for a Chef in Training

[Scroll down for my Grilled Portobello Burger recipe idea!]

Happy Tuesday party peeps! My Tuesday was not all that happy. Lame, but honest.

It could have something to do with the fact that my Tuesday feels more like Wednesday, or Thursday. My work schedule is about to return back to a normal, manageable one here, starting next week. I just need life to calm down a bit, between career, home-making, and just realizing what a hot mess I am.

Seriously, I need a haircut almost as badly as this guy

(Please watch the whole thing. I'm scared.)

As you guys know, I am learning a lot about what it's like to live with a boy who is not your dad or brother (aka who doesn't have a mom around.) First, I discovered the entire house frequently smells like tacos. Standard. Secondly, I realized that boys are really, really helpful with home improvement jobs (or at least my guy is. Awesome!) Third, I learned that boys really do enjoy when you feed them, even if they don't admit they would like a little help, erm... "diversifying" their options. 

For example, one night JC sat down to a dinner of about 6 oz of plain sirloin steak. Literally that was it. Needless to say, I took this as my time for an intervention. Especially after I mentioned just doubling whatever I cook, and John's eager answer was, "I'lleatwhateveryouputinfrontofme!!!" 

So this week, I decided to try my hand at domesticism and feed us Crowdemans. 

Have any of you guys happened upon Whole Foods's Family Meal Planner? Um, LIFE CHANGING! I like to consider myself a creative cook, but this week of easy, well-balanced meals is just too good to be true. 

Last night, I tried my hand at grilled portobello burgers. 

After John & I finished up our furniture picking up adventure, I decided to fry up these pups while JC was dropping the zippy car off. By the time he got home, dinner was on the table. 

Hey, I said domestic, didn't I? 

Marinated & Grilled Portybello Mushroom Burgs

You'll need:
4 large portobello caps
4 100% whole wheat hamburger buns
Balsamic Vinegar
Fixins' (Spicy mustard, sliced onion, avocado & salsa if you're me!)
Sliced raw bell pepper strips
Hummus of your choosing 

After washing, soak portobellos in a balsamic vinegar & cinnamon marinade. I don't know what inspired me to add cinnamon to balsamic vin but it was truly amazeballcity. 

Grill 'em up, or skillet them. The portys grill quick so keep flipping. 

Prepare your fixins'

Voila! Serve with raw tri-colored pepper strips on the side, with hummus (we chose spinach & artichoke variety.)

These were delicious and ridiculously easy. My one regret would be not thinking to add a slice of part skim cheese on top of that magical mushroom. JC even admitted he could hardly tell the difference between the mush & the meat :) (although he made me promise not to tell you guys he said so!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Things to sit on

... and other cool cozy stuff!

First off, thanks to my lovely readers who left me comments on last night's post! I love updating my little blog but it's so much more fun for me when you guys join in.

JC & I made big strides in the making-house-a-home department this past weekend, and I wish all of our new pieces could just appear in our living room. But instead, we wait.

Where I last left off, we were here: 

It was progress, but far from cozy. 

Since then we have drywall & paint (!!!!), and are just waiting on the doors (which are going to be amazeballz apparently!) I'm planning a "before and after" post recapping the construction progress, but until then, we've focused on filling up our now empty (except for the lovely bar, a John Crowder original - not to be discounted in the least) living room. 

A peek at the loot we made off with: 

Remo sofa from Macy's in coffee. Pic doesn't do this thing justice - it's really a sort of light olive.

And a blurry JC looks pretty sassy-good on it in the Macy's showroom.

Paige ottoman, also from Macy's. We'll be using this as a coffee table with a nice tray situation for bevvys and such. Love that it functions as extra seating and storage. In the words of Debra the Macy's show room lady, "Practical."

We ran home with a pillow from the sofa, just to make sure it would look as fly as I was imagining with the brilliantly amazing Fireworks Rug (which I now own - BOOYA!). I think it goes quite well, with similar bursts woven throughout. 

Some other treats, fresh out the Zipcar trunk: 

Really classic console table for behind our couch - plus a bit of extra storage. From HomeGoods

Let there be LIGHT in our ill lit home! Two of these floor lamps.

I'm flat out amazed at how much of a difference the lighting makes, particularly the massive floor lamps. Our living area has gone from cavern of confusion to cozy empty partytown.

Also waiting on the delivery of this classy item from the Barn of Pottery: 


How cozy/old are we?? I can't wait to put it all together and show yous guyz. 

What's your favorite room to deck out? What makes a room awesome?