Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections

It's been a good year, 2012. I've got to say this has been the best one yet. 

Why?

A lot has happened. I'm halfway through nursing school and am loving where my new career will take me. I got married to the love of my life and we are building a happy home together. I've gotten more organized - I make it a habit to clean out my closets regularly and either donate or throw away things I don't wear. It's so refreshing to get rid of old clothes, plus it keeps me aware of what's in my closet so that I utilize things better. I turned 25. With age comes wisdom. I've got a long way to go, but it's incredible to look back and see how far I've come and what has changed. I've mellowed out. I used to be a little spitfire and while I'll never be able to shake the temper that comes with being a redhead, I've learned to not let the little things bother me.

In short, I've never been happier.

Bring it, 2013!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

1. The Portland Juice Press. This joint recently opened in SE Portland and I've been going as often as my wallet allows me. There's just something about a fresh squeezed juice that's so refreshing. This pear and ginger concoction was seriously delicious

2. Starbucks red cups. I've tried to stay away. Living in Portland, with all the local coffee houses and Stumptown coffee abundantly flowing, it's a cardinal sin to go to Starbucks. But let's be honest, their seasonal drinks are just to die for. I'm partial to a chai eggnog (not on the menu - order one and you'll be hooked). Recently, I took my lil guy through with me and the barista's were so charmed with him they gave him a short cup full of whipped cream.

3. Fun books about your city. While I was perusing a local bakery before brunch (I know) I found this cute book called 100 Best Places to Stuff Your Faces chock full of the greatest restaurants, food carts, and coffee houses in Portland. Skimming through, I noticed several restaurants my husband and I have either been to, or put on our list to visit, so I knew I had to buy it. We break it out when we have guests in town.

4. Family time. My mom, brother, aunt and cousin came up to visit me a while back and we had a blast! We did some Christmas shopping, eating, and spent some quality family time together. We always enjoy an evening chatting and sipping champagne just the two of us. Words can't describe how much I love her!


NastyGal Wish List

Some of the stuff on NastyGal is a little over the top for me, but they have some really cute dresses that I think would be great for holiday parties this year. Check it out!





I think the teal one may need a permanent spot in my closet...


Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Christmas Cards!


Be Bright Christmas Card
View the entire collection of cards.
I love Shutterfly. I've used them for years for various photo prints and photo albums. This year, since I'm a newlywed, I thought it'd be fun to send out Christmas cards to our closest friends and fam with a picture from our wedding. Shutterfly always offers great incentives and deals (I got 10 Christmas cards for free - I just had to pay shipping!) to keep you coming back.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thai Time

I'm quite the novice cook, and I love trying new recipes out on my husband. I was watching The Food Network yesterday and caught Giada de Laurentis' cooking show. The episode centered around her husbands favorite foods, one of them being a traditional Thai dish called Larb. Having nothing else to do but study the etiology behind personality disorders and defense mechanisms, I ran straight to the grocery store to grab the needed ingredients.

I followed the recipe exactly (I can't go rogue and just throw in random stuff, it always is a disaster when I do that) and it turned out wonderful! My husband loved it so much, he ate pretty much the entire thing. I thought I'd share the recipe with you guys.

Making Thai food can sound intimidating, I know that's the reason I've avoided many ethnic foods. Some of the more foreign spices and sauces can be hard to track down and nearly impossible to substitute successfully. This recipe made it so easy and my local grocery store had everything I needed!

So without further ado, the recipe:

Ingredients

For Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from approx. 5 limes)
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs honey

Larb:
3 tbs vegetable or canola oil
1/2 red onion, diced (I used white onion bc I prefer it)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 piece lemongrass, minced
1 Thai or Serrano chile (I used 2 for a little extra heat), thinly sliced
Kosher salt to taste
1.5 lbs ground turkey (recipe calls for dark meat, but we used fat free breast meat)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Black pepper to taste
1 head butter lettuce, leaves washed and separated
Steamed white rice

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime and lemon juice, the fish sauce, and the honey. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat (I used medium-high). Add onion, shallot, lemongrass, chilis and salt to taste. Allow the vegetables to cook until softened, roughly 5 minutes. Add the turkey and season with salt/pepper. Cook until the meat and vegetables are cooked through, stirring frequently. Again, roughly 5 minutes. Add the dressing to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. *Here, I turned up the heat a bit so the dressing would really cook into the dish, but that's optional, of course. Remove pan from heat and stir in the fresh mint.

The dish is meant to be spooned into the lettuce leaves and arranged on a serving platter. I found it more appealing to arrange the lettuce leaves around the platter, put the steamed white rice in the middle, and pour the Larb on top of the white rice. This allows people to take their lettuce leaf and fill it up themselves - and also keeps the lettuce from getting soggy or slimy if they sit for a minute. 

I linked the recipe above, but here it is again. I did a lot of the prep work early so that all I had to do once my husband got home was throw everything in a pan.


And here's the finished product. There isn't much color contrast to the dish because I used the white breast meat. I think this recipe could be great also with ground beef or ground tofu!





Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekly Wishlist

1. La Lumiere bracelet from HRH Collection (pic from her website). I just think this is the prettiest little bracelet ever! The chunky chains and the dainty gem make for a great arm party. I swear, everything she makes is gorgeous and totally affordable! I think I'm going to have to add this to my Christmas wishlist :)

2. NARS Andy Warhol collection. Ever since I purchased the Orgasm blush when I was 15 (yikes! Ten years ago!), I've little by little been hoarding a NARS collection. I love their rich pigmentation, pretty packaging, and long-wearing products. Every time a new collection comes out I try to get a piece or two (since it can be quite pricey) to treat myself. 
(Photo credits: www.sephora.com)

3. Wedding pictures. It's just about that time! My family and I have been so looking forward to getting the wedding photos back and reliving such a special day! My photographer, Hollin Brodeur, was kind enough to send me a quick sneak peek of one of them. I had the best bridesmaids a gal could ask for! My husband and I are so excited to see the rest!


4. Anthropologie's Sequined Jacquard Dress. I stalk the Anthro website periodically - partially to torture myself and partially to get inspiration from my own closet. I'm a glutton for punishment. This charming frock caught my eye the second I saw it and I haven't been able to forget it. It's so perfect for the holidays!
(Photo credit: www.anthropologie.com)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Local Lovin': Irving St. Kitchen

If you're as much a sucker for ambiance as I am, you'll love Irving St. Kitchen in the Pearl District. Voted best Bloody Mary in Portland Monthly magazine, this restaurant offers the best brunch I've had in Portland thus far.

Walking in, you're greeted by a warm and ├╝ber hip environment. Old wagon wheels turned into chandeliers adorn the ceilings and booths in the back have an optional curtain to close for further privacy. Early for dinner? Wait for the rest of your party at the incredible bar (pictured below), or on the comfy chartreuse couches in the waiting area.


Sometimes a super hip restaurant has a horrible wait, or even worse, horrible food. That is definitely not the case with Irving St. Kitchen. We showed up at 10:30am on a Saturday for brunch and got seated immediately. We happened to have a reservation, but would've gotten seated right away without one. Perhaps this is Portland's best kept secret? 

Now, when I eat brunch, I always have a dilemma: sweet or savory? So now I order both. I went with the Emperor's Pancakes, an extra thick pancake served in a griddle and topped with buttermilk syrup, toasted walnuts, pumpkin mousse, and baked apples (pictured below). I've never had a more amazing breakfast dish in my life! 

To get my savory component, I ordered a side of their rosemary garlic fries served with basil aioli. I didn't nab a picture of them, but they were incredible too -- smothered with thinly sliced garlic and sprinkled with fresh rosemary. Mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

My husband got their Salmon Gravlax dish, with poached eggs and a creamy Hollandaise sauce and ate every bite. 

So, bottom line: if you're looking for a fabulous brunch spot when entertaining guests, or even just to splurge on your own, hit up Irving St. Kitchen. They are open for dinner as well, and I'd be interested in going back to check out their menu.


A Few Of My Favorite Things

1. I'm wayyyyy into comedian Chelsea Peretti's new podcast. She's on her third episode and I just can't get enough of her.

2. Timberline Lodge. The horror fan in me loves that this was where The Shining was filmed (exterior scenes only) -- and the fact that they had a murder mystery dinner theater there made it all the more appealing! My husband and I made the 1.5 hour drive from Portland and had an incredible time in the truly spooky lodge. 

3. Baking. Since I got wifed up I've been trying to be more domesticated. My husband loves reaping the rewards of my new interest in baking! These are three-ingredient pumpkin cake cookies. I'll post the recipe soon.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Funfetti Deliciousness

If you don't like funfetti cake, then just please....like, stop knowing me.

Pinterest has once again given me the recipe to a new Holy Grail of desserts - Funfetti Cheesecake Bars. Kayla and I had our little baking adventure again this weekend, and I thought this would be the perfect recipe. I'd never made cheesecake of any sort before, and I was amazed at how easy it was!!



I followed the photo I pinned over to this rad blog, Megan's Munchies, and copied her recipe. For ease's sake I'll retype out the recipe here, but know I got it from her first guys!

Ingredients you will need:

- One box funfetti cake mix

- One container of funfetti frosting

- 2 packages of 8oz. cream cheese (I used the 1/3 fat ones, but you can do whatever you want)

- 3 eggs

- 1/2 cup butter



Recipe:

- Mix dry cake mix and the butter (softened) together until it's nice and crumbly. Measure and set aside 1 cup of this mix.

- With the 1 cup set aside, pour the rest of that mix into an ungreased 13x9 inch pan. Press the mix with the back of a spoon to make the "crust". I found the spoon worked wonderfully, but you can use whatever you want.

- In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and the frosting. Beat until smooth. Next, beat in eggs until everything is well blended. Lastly, stir in the funfetti sprinkles (unless your sprinkles come pre-mixed in the frosting container).

- Pour mixture over your crust and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of crumbly cake mix.

- Bake for 45 minutes (42 if you use a dark or nonstick pan - which I did and it turned out perfect). Let bars cool completely and set in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.

- Cut into whatever size bars you want and keep refrigerated until serving.


This recipe was a HUGE hit with the husband, friends, and classmates. Make these as a dessert for your next BBQ or party and I promise you people will be chasing after you for the recipe. 

Enjoy!!





Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

I posted some pictures a while back of my baking bonanza with my neighbor Kayla and got some requests for the recipe.

Nothing screams fall more than pumpkin, and Pinterest has been full of cool new recipes and fall decor. Kayla and I got together a few weeks ago to bake and she shared her aunt's pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe with me. It was a huge success both at home and at work, so I thought I'd share the recipe with all of you!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1 2/3 cups flour
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is perfect)
- chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350

Mix together dry ingredients and wet in separate bowls. Slowly mix in dry ingredients to your combination of shortening, water and pumpkin. Mix well. Add chocolate chips as desired (I found 1/3 of a bag to be perfect, but if you like it extra chocolaty, go for half the bag) and stir in with a spoon. Grease a basic loaf pan and bake for one hour. Test with a fork or tooth pick after one hour to make sure it's baked all the way through.

It's seriously one of the easiest recipes ever! Plus, your whole house smells like yummy pumpkin the rest of the day. Happy Fall!!

And then there were three...

Wednesday night I flew home with some extra special cargo - my little chihuahua, Punchy. I've had him since he was four weeks old (he's six now) and we're completely obsessed with each other. The past year I've been up here without him has been really difficult - and my schedule has finally freed up enough to where I'm able to have him.


He'd never been out of my hometown in Southern California before, so hopping on an airplane and landing in the northwest was a huge change for him! We've spent the last few days together taking long walks, snuggling, and purchasing new toys and treats. Portland is really one of the most dog friendly cities in the U.S., with the most vets, pet supply, and dog parks/doggy daycares per capita. 

He's the perfect addition to my husband and I - making us a perfect little family!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Honeymooners: Our trip to Hawaii

Hawaii was amazing! We spent five wonderful days on the island of Oahu at the Royal Hawaiian hotel. Here's some pictures from our trip.

The entrance to our amazing hotel

Waikiki Beach at sunset

A must-stop at Leonard's Bakery for their famous malasadas, Portuguese donuts. They come filled or not filled, and I say don't waste your time if they aren't filled. My husband loved the coconut custard and I was partial to the lillikoi)

Breakfast every day at our hotel was amazing. Kona coffee, fresh-squeezed pineapple juice and the most delicious fruit ever.


Several people recommended Matsumoto's Shave Ice, so we made sure to visit that place when we rented a car and drove to the North Shore. It was awesome! Finely shaved ice covered with syrup and condensed milk (yes please!)

At the Valley of the Temples - such a beautiful and serene place to make a stop at

Breakfast on the beach on our last day!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Local Lovin': Bamboo Grove


A great local spot in John's Landing is Bamboo Grove, a traditional Hawaiian restaurant. Huge portions and a casual, family atmosphere are what makes this place so popular with local PDXers. They even serve a luau style Kalua pig in the summers - though I'm not into watching a dead animal be rotated over a fire in front of me, but that's another blog post. The decor is over-the-top Hawaiian, with tiki torches, Hibiscus paintings and other classic Hawaiian paraphernalia on all the walls. Nonetheless, it's a great escape from gloomy Portland weather.

(Images from Bamboo Grove's website)


Start off small with a bowl of their house-made kimchi. It's the perfect light precursor to your entree. Choose from a small, medium, or large sized entree, aka, "Island Grinds" (note, even the small is almost unfinishable by a hungry person) and you'll receive a generous scoop of rice and their famous macaroni salad on the side.  My husband loves their ahi tuna stir fry and their teriyaki chicken, while I stick with the vegetable stir fry (Hawaiian food isn't notorious for their vegetarian friendly dishes, but Bamboo Grove definitely makes an effort). The crunchy, seasoned vegetables combined with the creamy macaroni salad makes for a killer combination. Follow this up with a slice of their Kahlua cheesecake and you're in heaven.

Since my husband and I are jetting off to Hawaii tomorrow for our honeymoon, we were thrilled our friends suggested Bamboo Grove this weekend. We always end up with tons of leftovers to enjoy the next day!

If you want to make a night out of SW Portland, hit up Jolly Roger's on Wednesdays at 9pm for bar trivia!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Product Rave: Origins VitaZing


I've always shied away from skin matching type makeup items. Personally, they oxidize poorly on my skin and turn orange. I figured Origins VitaZing would be no different when a friend introduced it to me the other day. The girls at the Origins shop were kind enough to give me a sample to take home to try it out....

....and I'm in LOVE!

It's smoother and more malleable than my favorite Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, and a little bit really goes a long way. After hours of wear I have no orange tint and no harsh line between my neck and face like I normally do with this type of makeup. My face is left feeling light and refreshed with a gorgeous glow that's hard to get naturally.

What I love about Origins in general, is that there products are almost entirely all natural and don't contain parabens, sulfates, or weird chemical fragrances.

A bottle of VitaZing will run you $35 - it seems outrageous until you actually try the product and realize how little you actually need for full coverage.

Try or buy?

My opinion, try first and then buy. The medium coverage may not be what you are looking for and it can leave your face looking greasy if not followed up with a powder.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Five Things I Can't Wait For

Fall is coming!



1. Salted caramel hot chocolates at Starbucks

2. Cloudy days, orange leaves, and scarf weather

3. Autumn walks with my dog

4. Halloween!!

5. Corn mazes, caramel apples, and apple cider



Are you happy to see summer go? 
xx

The best of the best: P-town Pizza

My husband (eek! So odd to get to use that word now!) and I are big foodies - if you hadn't noticed by now. We love to try new recipes, eat at new restaurants/food carts/hole in the walls and watch any and all cooking channels.

Most of our meals consist of discussing the next meal - that's how into it we are.

Portland is one of the ultimate foodie cities - there is something for everyone here. So today we'll start with the basics and talk pizza. Here are the four ultimate pizza joints to hit when you're in PDX.

#4. Sizzle Pie:
(Picture from www.sizzlepie.com)
We actually just made it to Sizzle Pie this afternoon, after me drooling over their menu for the last year. There are two locations on Burnside, one in the south and one in the east over the bridge. Pizza by the slice is available, as well as whole pies. Another great thing about PDX is their lunch combo options and their happy hour options, and Sizzle Pie is no exception. They offer a combo of a slice of pizza and a salad for $6. I went with the Gold Ring pizza, with white truffle oil, goat cheese (yes!) and green onion. The slices are large and thin - great for folding in half. Try the Word salad and enjoy greens, sunflower seeds, red onion, pepperoncinis, and their famous vegan pink peppercorn white wine vinaigrette (YUM!). Some of their awesome whole pies with tongue-in-cheek names consist of: the Gene Parmesan (Arrested, anyone?) with shaved beef steak, broccoli, and parmesan peppercorn sauce; the Napalm Breath, crushed garlic, pepperoni, onion and fresh jalapenos; and the Italians Do It Better - with breaded eggplant, crushed garlic and fresh basil. Pop in for a slice or a whole pie!

#3. Ken's Artisan Pizza:
(Photo from www.kensartisan.com)
Mentioning this name will make the locals eyes light up. Have I mentioned this place before? Can't remember. Legend has it that Ken opened a bakery in Portland years ago and was quite successful. When his friends would come to visit the shop, he would make them pizza, a special treat that wasn't on the menu. His friends started bringing their friends and so on and so forth until he decided to open up his own pizza place. Ken's is located in NE Portland near Laurelhurst theater and features some seriously good pizza. This is a much more traditional thin crust pizza with classic Italian toppings like prosciutto, rosemary, and house made pancetta. If you like a bit of spice, order the Arrabiata - a blend of tomato and spicy Calabrian chiles, mozzarella and basil. Get there early 'cause there's always a line and they don't take reservations.

#2. Dove Vivi:
(Photo from yelp.com)
This place is in a caliber all on it's own. Tucked away on NE Glisan in a strip mall with a cleaners and a Plaid Pantry, this is one of the best kept secrets in Portland. Their claim to fame is their thick, cornmeal crust. Chewy and delicious, this special crust gives the pizza an extra somethin' somethin' that keeps you coming back for more. Our personal favorite is the goat cheese pizza, smothered with creamy goat cheese, balsamic soaked tomato slices, green peppers and fresh rosemary. If you're into trying something really different, the corn pizza is another good one sprinkled with fresh sweet corn and marinated onions. Every visitor we've taken here has been wooed by the deliciousness that is presented to them. Pair your pizza with their delicious kale salad, a simple but flavorful addition to your meal. I would eat this every day if I could.

#1. Apizza Scholls:
(Picture from Google Images)
Now, if we're talking just straight pizza, just melt-in-your-mouth cheesy carbloaded goodness, then we're talking Apizza Scholls. This place also doesn't take reservations and the wait can be upwards of two hours. The chefs make their dough for the day, and when they run out, that's it - so better get there early. I can't recommend just one pizza here, since they are all incredible - but I do recommend starting your meal off with their roasted vegetable platter. This place was recommended to us by some friends who used to live here. It took us a little less than a year to get there, but we finally went and it was absolutely delicious - one of those places that makes you wish you had two or three stomachs to keep on eating.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Wedding

Free time, FINALLY! Not that wedding planning wasn't wonderful (it was), but I'm so glad to have a little extra time (and some sanity) back. I miss blogging when I'm not doing it daily!

My wedding was an absolute dream. We got married on August 12 at Temecula Creek Inn in southern California. Aside from the triple digit heat, there's not a thing I would change. All of our family, friends and loved ones were present to witness the most important day of our lives. The wonderful flower arrangements, the quaint setting next to a stone cottage, everything was perfect! Here are some guest pictures that we've received on Facebook and the like. I truly can't wait to see the professional shots by Hollin Brodeur-Whedbee and her husband Eric Whedbee!





My incredible dress was by Martina Liana and my bridesmaids dresses were from BHLDN. I can't tell you how many compliments we got on the girl's dresses - the mustard yellow/chartreuse color was so stunning next to the foliage. 

I'll post more pictures when I get some of the professional ones back - in the mean time, I'm going to go back to being a newlywed :)

xx