Monday, March 31, 2014

This Weekend...

This weekend I...

... Went on what was possibly my biggest Target binge ever.  Mainly because we got all new bedding, but also because I can't stay away from things that are gold and shiny.  Seriously, a gold dog tape dispenser?  There's no way I could have stayed away from that.
... Went up to Lincoln Park to get my hair cut (because once you find a girl you like, you're willing to drive twenty minutes on a Saturday morning to get to her) which necessitated a stop in to Molly's Cupcakes.  Birthday cake is my favorite!
... Picked up some pretty fresh flowers at Mariano's, so now our house smells amazing.  Yay spring!
... Accidentally crashed a guy's night.  Jeff and I thought we were meeting up with a bunch of people to watch the games, but all of the girls who were going skipped out, so it was just me and ten guys.  Luckily, I'm great at talking about fantasy baseball (har har har).
... Had dinner at Taco Joint - serious yum!  I would like four more braised pork belly tacos, please.  Oh, and another grapefruit chili margarita ;)
... Did another Darby Smart project.  Those boxes just keep showing up at my door, I may have a problem.
... Went to our neighborhood sports bar for dinner and additional basketball.  I've been eating really healthy lately, so instead of getting fries and a burger I went for "veggie spaghetti" - zucchini and yellow squash julienne, sautéed in spicy pesto with corn and tomatoes.  Ummm, SO good!  I may still have had a couple of Jeff's tater tots though ;)

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Salmon with Oyster Sauce and Stir Fried Broccoli

This recipe came to me like in a dream.  I was at work trying to think of a new way to make salmon for dinner.  We've been eating a lot of salmon lately, partially because I really like salmon, and partially because I accidentally told my doctor I eat salmon once a week and now feel like I need to live up to that expectation.  I was doing a lot of olive oil and lemon juice for a while but got tired of that, then moved on to soy-honey glazes, but I wanted something new.  Then I thought, why not pretend I was stir frying it and cook it in oyster sauce?

It turns out that salmon and oyster sauce were basically made for each other.  This is the fiance's new favorite meal, we've been eating it once a week for the past month or two, and every time he raves over it.  I'm pretty partial to it myself too.

On a side bar, one of my friends freaked out once when I said I was using oyster sauce and thought she wouldn't like it, so I tried to tell her there aren't actually oysters in it.  Turns out I was lying, because it's made using oyster extracts.  But if you're worried about it, just consider whether you've ever eaten broccoli and beef in a restaurant, because if you have and you liked it you definitely like oyster sauce.

Salmon with Oyster Sauce and Stir Fried Broccoli
Serves 2

You'll Need:
1/2 cup rice
3 TB sesame oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (I like to freeze ginger and grate it)
2-3 heads of broccoli cut into florets
1/2 onion cut into strips
1 lb fresh salmon
3 TB oyster sauce, divided
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce, divided
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Cook rice according to directions, adding 1 TB sesame oil to the water.

Take salmon out of fridge to allow to reach room temperature.

In a large pan, heat 1 TB sesame oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and fresh ginger, heat until fragrant.  Add broccoli and onion and cook until broccoli is cooked through.  Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Add remaining TB of sesame oil to the pan.  Add 2 TB oyster sauce and 1 tsp soy sauce to pan (watch out, the soy sauce tends to splatter) and place salmon in pan.  Cook 4 minutes a side until the salmon is cooked through, feels firm to the touch, and flakes easily with a fork.  Remove from pan.

Add the vegetables back to the pan to reheat over medium-low heat.  In a small bowl, mix together corn starch and water, stirring until combined.  Add remaining oyster sauce and soy sauce.  Pour sauce mixture over vegetables and allow to cook down for 2 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.

Serve salmon and vegetables over rice, with maybe a few sesame seeds on the top if you're feeling fancy.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Break Style Part 2

Shirt - Gap / Shorts - Target (old, similar) / Shoes - Sperry / Bag - Coach Factory (similar) / Watch - Michael Kors (old)

I think beach style is my favorite ever.  White shorts, pastels, breezy airy pieces, and boat shoes every day please.  I was so sad to be back in winter clothes this week, can I go back to some more warm and sunny weather?  

On another note, I realized it may be time for a new pair of white shorts in my life.  I last wore them last summer.  I've had these babies for eight years now!  They've seen me through gaining and losing 20 pounds (ahem, college) and are now big enough that I can take them on and off without unbuttoning them.  They're also starting to look a little less, well, white.  I also maaaaay have spilled some strawberry daiquiri on them during this trip, whoops!  My one and only spring break casualty.  

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Key West Recap

A couple of days in Key West were just what I needed after this winter, it was so nice to get away, enjoy some warm weather and sunshine, and relax.  Here are a few pics from the trip: 

The view from our balcony at The Reach.

A little drink on the beach.


Old Town Key West

Dinner boat cruise from Islescapes that included some adorable shrimp boats.

Sunset cruise

Wandering through Old Town.

Breakfast with some baby chicks at Blue Heaven.

Lobster eggs benny - YUM.

Made it to the Southernmost Point in the US.

My birthday present from Jeff - a private charter that took us to sand bars and a private island.

And of course, a little snorkeling.  

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break Style

Tee - JCrew / Jeans - Gap / Sandals (old) - Target / Necklace - BaubleBar / Bag - Coach Factory

Getting dressed on Spring Break means pieces that are light, comfortable, and fun.  A slightly oversized tee and boyfriend jeans definitely fit the bill, but of course I had to throw in a fun necklace too.  The weather in Key West was gorgeous, warm enough during the day for swimming and laying out but not so hot that jeans were uncomfortable.  I wish it could be 75 and sunny everyday.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

This weekend...

This weekend I...

...Did some prelim wedding dress shopping at David's Bridal, where my sister happened on the exact dress she bought two years ago.  Didn't find anything but had fun playing dress up!
...Came home from Key West.  Wahhh.  It was so fun, pics to come this week.
...Woke up to snow on Sunday.  Double wahhh.
...Had some yummy italian (and a couple glasses of vino) on a lady date to Topo Gigio.
...Cheered on Virginia with the boy (it's his alma matter).
...Went to a birthday dinner for my sister and my mom, which included the only singing of "Happy Birthday" I've ever been a part of that involved a little bit of screaming when the lit candles started to fall off the cake.  Whoops.
...Did some freelancing work and my taxes.  Woah, productivity.
...Took a trip out to the outlet mall, partially to return some things (ahem, buy some things) and partially to avoid the total dudefest/fantasy baseball draft that was happening in my living room.  Mission: successful.

I hope you had a good one!

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Spinach Pesto Spaghetti Squash

I recently caught an episode of Rachael Ray when she was making three different variations on spaghetti squash.  I don't usually watch her show since I work during the day, but if I'm ever home I make sure to turn it on, she's so freaking adorable and always has the best ideas.  I've had spaghetti squash before, but it was always just with regular tomato sauce disguised as regular pasta so it didn't really pique my interest.  With some spinach walnut pesto though, it's exactly my kind of meal.

For those of you who have never experienced spaghetti squash before, it's a squash that naturally forms strings after it's cooked.  People tend to use it as a low-carb substitute for spaghetti.  There are lots of ways to prep it, but my favorite is cutting it in half, brushing it with olive oil, sprinkling on some salt and pepper, and baking skin side up on a baking sheet at 400 for 45-50 minutes.  After letting it cool a bit, you can use a fork to scrape out the flesh into strings.  

Spinach Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Adapted from the Rachael Show
Serves 2-3

You'll need:
1 large spaghetti squash
4 TB olive oil, divided
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 6oz bag spinach, washed and dried
1/2 cup parsley, washed and dried
1/4 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400.

Cut squash in half and remove seeds.  Brush insides with 2TB olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork.

In the same oven, bake walnuts on a small baking sheet for 5-6 minutes, until they begin to get fragrant and the edges start to brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Once the squash is cooked, remove from the oven.  Using a fork, scrape out the flesh into strings and place in a large bowl.

Add toasted walnuts, stock, spinach, parsley, onion, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until a pesto sauce forms.

Heat remaining 2 TB of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the pesto and cook 2-4 minutes.

Combine the pesto with the squash and top with a healthy amount of parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

White on White

I have a soft spot in my heart for white skirts.  No matter how many are in my closet, I always feel like there's always room for one more.  So when I saw this adorable skirt on Sammydress I knew it had to be mine.  I've worn it dressed up with tights and heels, but I also thought it would be fun to wear with a graphic tee.  I can also see it working well in the summer with a floaty white top.

Tee - Old Navy / Skirt - c/o Sammydress / Flats - Payless

I didn't realize it at the time, but apparently when I wear a poofy skirt I automatically go full ballerina with a bun and ballerina flats.  Over the weekend one of my friends was talking about how all girls have ballerina skills.  Um, no.  I took classes when I was little and thought I was great.  We recently watched a video my mom took at one of my classes, and I was basically just galloping back and forth across the room.  Of course that was better than the t-ball game of mine we watched - my mom panned across the game, and when she got to me I was sitting on the edge of the outfield with a friend kicking dandelions.  Clearly a sports legend in the making.

The weather has been really up and down lately, one day it's fifty and the next it's twenty.  I didn't get around to shooting this outfit until it was in the 20's and super windy.  Which led to this face - "Are we done please can we go inside now I'm so cold":

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Packing for a Short Trip

I used to be one of those people who brought everything I owned every time I went on even a short trip, yet still forgot stuff.  I once stopped at my parents' house on the way out for the weekend, and ended up raiding their linen closet because I had forgotten a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and face lotion.  Now I have packing down to a science so I always have what I need but don't lug a ton of extra stuff with me.

For clothes, I like to think about what I want to wear a week or so in advance so I can either plan not to wear those items before the trip or so that I can plan on leaving enough time to do laundry before I leave.  For shorter trips, I try to stick to one color palette so that everything can be mixed and matched.  That way, if I happen to drip chocolate ice cream on my white jeans (it happens every time), I have another option, but I'm not bringing a crazy amount of clothes..

Once I put everything in my suitcase, I'll see if there's any extra space.  If that has somehow happened, I'll throw in a couple of items that may have seemed superfluous but could come in handy - a nicer dress, an extra pair of shorts, or another swimsuit (or three).

To make sure I never have another toiletry disaster (since my mom can't help me out every time), I tend to keep my toiletry bag packed all of the time.  There's always at least a toothbrush, face lotion, toothpaste, deodorant, conditioner, a comb, a razor, contact solution, an extra pair of contacts, bobby pins, and hair bands in there.  That way I can just toss in my glasses and be ready to go without having to think about it.  When I get home from a trip, I just replace any items that may have run out and I'm good to go.

Do you have any packing tips you swear by?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Double Denim

Shirt, Sweater, Bracelet (gifted) - Loft / Jeans - Gap / Necklace - BaubleBar (similar) / Boots - Bandolino (old, similar)

See all of the snow?  In these pictures it was melting, and now it's GONE.  And perhaps for the first time in my life, I say good riddance.  Not just because of the cold, but also because all of my suede shoes have been in hiding because of all of the puddles, and I miss them.

I've had a couple of chambray shirts in my life, but they were all a bit more western-y and made of material that was more denim than chambray.  Not this baby.  She's so soft and light and airy I can see wearing her all spring and summer long.

While I was taking these photos, the cutest black lab wandered up to me and said hello.  Normally I have a policy of not saying hi to dogs on the street after one literally jumped up and bit me outside of my last apartment.  But this little lady looked nice so I bent down to pet her.  I asked her owner what her name was, and she said "Tina. Short for Christina."  Name twins.  I felt like we were meant to be best friends.  Then the owner said her husband's name was Chris and her name was Christine.  I then got a little creeped out and quickly ran away.  Is it just me, or is that a little odd?  Sorry Tina, I guess we won't be hanging out anytime soon.

I hope you're having a great Thursday!

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Monday, March 17, 2014

This weekend...

This weekend I...

... Went to Troy, where instead of just singing your friend Happy Birthday, they turn off the lights and have a mini rave while the other diners sit in confusion.
... Tried on everything green in my closet three or four times, despite my post on Friday.
... Went to a St. Patrick's Day party where there was a baby.  Determined I have hit the age 30 of partying a little too soon.
... Re-watched Catching Fire, still laughed out loud every time Caesar came on screen.
... Went to Target and freaked out over how cute the Oh Joy collection is.   What's a good excuse for throwing a cutesy party...
... Booked an appointment to go wedding dress shopping!  This is real, people.

But today I...

...Got on a plane to head to Key West!  SPRING BREAK!! I have posts scheduled for while I'm away, but I'll be back for realsies next week.  See ya!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Four Ways to Wear Green: St. Patrick's Day Style

When I used to go out for St. Patrick's Day, it was all about getting as much green in as possible and going crazy with accessories (ahem, see here).  Now I want to wear some green, but in a classier way.  Here are a couple of ways I've worn green lately, from more casual to dressy styles.  I loved that dressy look, but I'm probably going to go for the green cardi and some riding boots.

St Patrick's Day Style

Outfit Details: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Tomorrow we're going to hit up a little breakfast party and then see where the day takes us.  I'm not that into St. Patrick's Day anymore, the past two years I've been home by 5 or 6pm.  What I'm really looking forward to right now is our little trip to Key West next week - I guess we'll get to see how they celebrate!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  Have any fun plans for this weekend?  I'd love to hear!

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