Thursday, March 29, 2007

Recipe of the Week

Tonight is our annual church birthday party celebrating the organization of our women's group. I've been asked to take a side dish, so I'm making this wild rice salad. Afterward I'm going to sneak into dinner club late for Sarah's crab-stuffed shrimp with basil cream sauce on a bed of jasmine rice! Tomorrow I'll be back with the details and I'll finsh summing up my vacation.

Serves 8 to 10
Recipe From Martha Stewart

This is a good addition to a buffet; the flavor develops as it stands at room temperature.

3 cups wild rice
4 blood oranges or navel oranges
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 scallions cut into 1/8-inch rounds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves finely chopped (1/2 cup)

1. Cook wild rice in a large pot of salted boiling water until just tender, about 40 minutes. Drain in a colander.

2. Meanwhile, cut away peel and pith from oranges; holding oranges over a bowl to catch the juice, remove segments from white membrane; place segments in the bowl.

3. Combine vinegars, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

4. In a large serving bowl, combine rice, scallions, dried cranberries, parsley, and orange sections and their juice. Drizzle vinaigrette over the salad, gently toss, season, and serve.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's all in the details

I bought a box of these matches a while back and I'm almost out. Now I know where to get them for half the price I paid at Paper Source. Thanks Jordan!! See her post here for details.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Recipe of the Week

This one of my favorite simple tea sandwiches. The cream cheese spread can be made several days ahead. My favorite bread for this sandwich is Milton's Multi-Grain Bread which I buy at Trader Joe's.

Herbed Cream Cheese and Cucumber Sandwiches (pictured center)
Makes 20-25 Sandwiches
From Barefoot Contessa Parties

8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon thyme
1 ½ Tbsp. parsley
3 Tbsp. milk or cream
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 loaf 7-grain bread, thinly sliced
1 hothouse cucumber, not peeled

Beat ingredients for spread in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until well mixed. Add additional milk if the spread is too thick.

To make sandwiches, spread each slice of bread with cream cheese spread. Slice the cucumber in thin rounds and arrange on half the bread slices. Top with remaining bread. Press slightly, trim off the crusts, and cut the sandwiches into halves, thirds, or triangles.

*The spread will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. Prepare the sandwiches early in the day and keep them covered with damp paper towels and plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

Petits Fours

I've had my eye on this cute petits fours plaque from William-Sonoma for a while now.

Tea Implements

I still need a couple of items to set up my tea service. I found these pretty silver-plated tea strainers at Dean & Deluca. They are even on sale right now. Now I'm on the look out for a good deal on silver 3-tier service trays and small tea pots for brewing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

NYC Restaurants

New York is definitely one of the culinary capitals or the world. We enjoyed several good meals during the week, but to be honest I don't think New York restaurants have anything on San Francisco other than sheer number of establishments. I guess I just like the fresher tastes of California cuisine. Here's a list of the major places we dined:

Balthazar: (Rated #15 most popular NY restaurant by Zagat voters) This was my favorite dinner (pictured above). I had the goat cheese tart, steak frite, and pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream. The atmosphere was really exciting and the food was really delicious. Bay Area equivalent - Bouchon

Cafe Grey: (Rated #39 most popular NY restaurant by Zagat voters) I thought this place was okay, but nothing to write home about. I had the gnocchi soup and steamed spring vegetables with citrus vinaigrette. The menu was pretty pretentious and it was definitely overpriced. The restaurant did have a pretty design and a great view of the park though. Bay Area equivalent - I had a hard time picking an equivalent, but maybe Postrio, although I'd rather eat at Postrio and for about 2/3 the price.

Norma's: (Zagat food rating = 25) This is the best breakfast I've ever had in my entire life! I had the banana macadamia nut flapjacks with whipped brown sugar butter. Bay Area equivalent - Zazie

Gramercy Tavern: (Rated #1 most popular NY restaurant by Zagat voters) I had the lobster salad, flank steak and short rib, and apple tart. I really enjoyed this restaurant. There were beautiful fresh flowers everywhere and the service was really good. The short rib was cooked to perfection. Bay Area equivalent - Boulevard

Other notable New York food moments:

The Doughnut Plant
: We walked forever to get to this place and it's definitely not in a neighborhood you want to stand out in as a tourist. We got there just in time to get the last two doughnuts - Meyer lemon and hazelnut cake doughnuts and the last two cinnamon rolls which had unnaturally large plump raisins. They were pretty good! They sell them at the Soho Dean & Deluca too.

Serendiptiy: The first time we tried to go here the wait was 2 hours so we went somewhere else. Later in the week when Katie and I were looking for somewhere that was open late we went back at 11:00 PM and got right in. The food was nothing special and it's way overpriced so I wouldn't go here to eat again, but I would go back for the frozen hot chocolate which is what they are known for anyway. I would probably only be willing to wait for 30-45 minutes maximum.

Sarabeth's: We tried but never made it here for the famous breakfast. We did eat dinner here once. The food was okay, but I would only go back to try breakfast which is what everyone raves about.

The Cafeteria at the Met: Kim and I loved it! I guess we were pretty hungry because we were struggling to balance all the plates of food from the different bars on our two trays. Pretty good for a humble basement cafeteria!

Tea at the St. Regis: See my post here. I loved this experience!!

Dylan's Candy Bar: Heide got the peanut butter hot chocolate. The toppings were delicious, but the hot chocolate itself was too sweet and not chocolaty enough. Definitely a fun retail space though.

Tea Time

"There are few hours in life more agreeable, than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea." -The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

One of the things I enjoyed most about my recent trip to New York was tea at the St. Regis. It was nice to relax for a couple of hours in a beautiful atmosphere after walking around all day. And who doesn't love miniature sandwiches and desserts? We had a really delicious fruit tea.

I think I am going to try to implement tea time into my life. Maybe it would be a good Sunday afternoon refresher for after church.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Souvenirs From Tiffany's

What girl can resist Tiffany's on her first trip to New York? We all got necklaces to commemorate our trip. I got this round Atlas necklace. I love pretty much everything in the Atlas collection.

Travel Mad Libs

These fun mad lib type cards were fun to mail from our trip.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Art Deco

I'm really inspired by the art deco architecture in New York. My favorite building was the Chrysler Building. We had a great view of it from our hotel room. I was so inspired that I couldn't pass up this Anna Sui dress from Anthropologie. It has geometric pinwheel and stylized floral patterns that give it that art deco feel.

Wanderlust: Travel Log in Brief

I'm home! I have a lot to share from my vacation but I'm going to pace myself. I visited Chicago and Madison briefly for a family matter. Then I went to Philadelphia and finally ended my two week vacation in New York.

I haven't spent much time in Chicago. I usually see it passing through on my way to Wisconsin where I have a lot of family. I spent a couple of hours on Michigan Avenue this trip while waiting for family to arrive at the airport. A couple of hours has definitely peeked my interest. I'm a city girl through and through and I've never met a city I didn't like. The architecture and landscape of Chicago was very beautiful. Hopefully I get to see a little more of it some day.

What can I say about Madison? I've travelled there every few years to visit family since I was a little girl. It's definitely one of America's best kept secrets. You can't even fly direct from most cities. It's one of those places that most people will probably never see unless you have a very specific reason to visit, but it's really a beautiful city especially in the summer when everything is very green. Surrounding the city are gently rolling hills of bright green grass and picture perfect red or white barns. Frank Lloyd Wright claims Wisconsin as home and you can visit his estate, Taliesin, which is about an hour from Madison near Spring Green. You can also visit nearby Alex Jordan's House on the Rock.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Philadelphia. They have been working very hard to renew Old City and the area around Independence Hall. Philadelphia is also the birthplace of the much beloved Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. The Anthropologie flagship store resides in Rittenhouse square in a very beautiful old building. More on Philadelphia later.

New York
This was my first trip to New York and I'm in love! Growing up in a small town in the West, I always dreamed of living in New York because it was the biggest city I knew about. I wasn't disappointed! Much more on New York later, too.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I'm off to the East Coast! I'll be back in a couple weeks.

Black Dog Opera

If you are interested in learning about opera but don't want to commit to the $40 plus it costs to get a really good recording, Black Dog Opera is a good way to go. Each opera comes with a book that included the background, full libretto, and the music on two cds. They aren't the best recordings ever made, but they are a good value. If you decide you really like the opera, you can spring for a better more expensive recording.

Perfect for Spring & Summer

I love Laura Mercier's Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. It moisturizes while controlling oil and it has SPF 20. The coverage is perfect for the warmer months and casual days.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Paper Trail

Knock Knock produces paper products with a sense of humor. I especially love the note pads and stickies.

Spring = Lilacs

My grandmother's backyard is lined with big beautiful lilac bushes. Growing up, I loved spring because of the wonderful scent of the lilac bushes. We used to pick bundles of lilacs to give to grandmother and mom. This Voluspa candle takes me back a few years.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Paper Piles Be Gone: Part Two

Once you find a way to manage your short-term files and things that need attention (see my suggestion here), it's time to move on to long-term items.

Most of the papers I keep long-term fall into two categories:
1) Financial
2) Tear sheets, recipes, ideas and inspiration

This post pertains specifically to the first category - financial. I'll cover category #2 in a future post.

I used to have a filing cabinet with a folder for each different category and bill, which is a logical way to file items. The problem I found with this is that the files eventually get really full to the point where I'd stop filing and start piling until I could get around to cleaning out the whole cabinet. Then I would have to spend a lot of time filing all the things I couldn't file because it was impossible to cram one more piece of paper into the file.

Here's the solution:

1) Acquire a file cabinet, box, etc if you don't already have one. I only use one drawer of my small filing cabinet so I could change to a filing box. Also, I prefer hanging files. You can purchase kits to convert regular file drawers into hanging files, but it's better to just start with a hanging file if you can.

2) Label 12 folders with one month of the year.

3) Once you pay your bill, review your bank statement, etc., put it into the folder for that month. Once the month is over, move it to the back of the 12 months so that the current month is always the front file. I've found that there really isn't any need to file things by payee, bank, etc.

4) At the beginning of the month, go through the papers in the corresponding month's file and shred anything you don't need anymore so you can start adding the new items. This way the file is cleaned out once a year with very little effort. You can usually toss everything, but occasionally you have something that you need to keep indefinitely. I have one file for these items labeled "Long-Term Financial Info"

5) Set up other folders based on your needs. Examples of other files I have:
* Current Taxes: Put tax related receipts and other papers into this file instead of the monthly file so that everything is together in one place at the end of the year.
* Taxes: File for past tax returns

In the next organizing post I will cover how long you need to save specific items.

(All of the above pictured file items are from The Container Store.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Turn About Town

I'm always on the lookout for comfortable shoes that I can walk around the city in all day but that don't look like walking shoes. When I was looking for ballet flats last fall, I tried on several that were okay comfort-wise but not great. My search was over once I tried these on! They were comfortable from day one. I have them in black patent leather.
This wedge is a close runner-up. I would probably choose flats if I were literally going to walk around all day long, but I've worn these on many walking intensive outings with very good results. (Part of the Button Down Collection)

Dinner Club Photos