Sunday, July 31, 2011


Saturday, July 30, 2011

How the light gets in

I've posted this video on Facebook, but don't think I've shared it here. It's a video that a man from Australia named Kristian Anderson made for his wife on her birthday. Kristian has terminal cancer, but is still fighting. His attitude, his faith, his journey and his love-- for family, friends and life are inspirational. This video gets me every time.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Three years in (yes! August marks my THIRD year living in England!), I still have my lost in translation moments. MRN gets a kick out of them as I continue to ask for translation assistance (sometimes it's words, sometimes it's that I just don't understand accents). I'm one of those annoying people who just laugh when I'm uncomfortable (or faced with confrontation), or grin and nod like an idiot when I don't understand what someone is saying-- at least in a party situation (one-on-one proves a bit more difficult so I have to ask people to repeat themselves). So at parties I still find myself sticking close to MRN so if I don't know what some one's said I can look at him inquisitively for interpretation. Sad, I know-- but once a pleaser, always a pleaser. Here are some of my favorite "English-isms" to date:
  • Plonker (a dumb-*ss)
  • Muppet (similar to plonker, but sometimes used more affectionately in a, "oh, bless" kind of way
  • Oh, bless (when someone does something idiotic but they don't know any better because they ain't too bright)
  • Rubbish (akin to "sucks"-- a nicer way to say it, I think)
  • Snog (I've actually not heard anyone say this, but I love this word. So much more descriptive than just "kissing"
  • Skip rats (I don't think this is actually an English-ism, but it's what MRN calls the people in our not-so-nice neighborhood)
  • Blagging (akin to taking the piss)
  • Taking the piss (Basically, "pulling your leg" but "piss" is also considered a bad word-- kids get in trouble for saying it; well, if they have [good] parents that care about that stuff)
  • Bum (bootie-- also like bum bag, which is equivalent to our fanny pack. But fanny in British-English is not considered a nice word-- it's a euphemism for a female body part)
  • Knackered (completely exhausted)
  • Ginger (a red head-- my favorite)
  • Queue (a line-- as in, "form an orderly queue")
There are loads more (there's one!) but that's all I'm able to rattle off at the moment. Of course my favorite word is the "W" word which is akin to the "F" word, but certainly doesn't sound as bad (maybe because I didn't grow up with it and so it doesn't seem like a bad word). MRN does go mental (there's another) if I say it because it is a pretty bad word apparently. Ah well-- I claim international ignorance.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can't get enough...

... of Chie Mihara. This globetrotter was born to Japanese parents in Brazil where she was raised and started designing shoes when she was a student at FIT in NYC (in her apartment in Queens, no less). Now married to a Spaniard and living and designing in Spain (and we all know the best shoes come from Spain), her magnificent shoes are available at high-end retailers all over the world. They're not cheap, but despite the height on many them, they are designed for comfort. She studied foot anatomy and common foot problems at an orthopedic shoe store where she first worked as a designer and her shoes are built to the shape of a woman's foot for ultimate comfort. Here are some of my favorites from the Fall 2011 collection. I'm kind of obsessing over the open toe + tights combination (which I usually hate). Ah, Spanish shoes how I love you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cosmic Love

One of my favorite Florence+the Machine songs. It's one of those songs that breaks your heart... so powerful, meaningful and beautiful. There are really amazing acoustic versions, but I love the original with the driving drumbeat in the chorus juxtaposed with that soft harp in the verses... such a strong metaphor for love.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A cooking kind of weekend

Inspired by GP I suppose, it was a lovely weekend filled with family and cooking, as you've spied in the last couple of posts. Sunday was no different and since we FINALLY had some sunshine (and it nearly hit 68F! WHOOP!), we decided to grill (though we ate inside since it was still freakishly cold). MRN requested something "normal" (though he was kinder in the nomenclature) so there were hamburgers but then I got to be more creative, making:

Marinated lamb kebabs
(marinated overnight in red wine, red wine vinegar, olive oil, minced garlic and an assortment of fresh herbs including rosemary and thyme) speared with red onions, yellow and red peppers and served on toasted pine nut cous cous (made with homemade chicken stock).

"Mom's potato salad" (right) which is a standard Hawaiian concoction that contains very little potato combined with pasta, hard boiled eggs (shredded), carrot (also shredded), crab meat, onion, black olives and mayo.


Homemade "Waldorf" salad with shredded chicken
(left)-- my random concoction which this time became a Waldorf by based on what I happened to be able to find in the pantry; in this case, apple, celery, raisins, red onion, walnuts, chicken, S&P to taste and some mayo). This is one of my favorite things to make and eat with all the layers and textures. It's also great as a hors d'oeuvre which you can serve in Tostito "scoops" (which you can't find here, so I served it with corn chips on the side instead).

and last but not least,

Peach crostata (Ummm... half eaten; couldn't beat away the eaters to let me take a photo first)--a variation on apple and a perfect substitute for the summer. But I really must learn patience to convert measurements. The whole guessing on the amount of butter is making for some interesting results.

I also used GP's chicken stock recipe to freeze and store stock for future use (and use it for the cous cous that was served with the lamb). However, it yielded LOADS more than the recipe's stated 3 liters-- try 6. Whoops. So I froze 3 liters, reserved 2 cups for the cous cous and used about 1/2 a cup for a lemon/olive oil/rosemary sauce for the lamb... the rest I'll make into chicken noodle soup with the left over chicken from the stock (half of which was used for the chicken salad). And by the way-- cooking cous cous in chicken stock-- so much better! It gives it a whole new dimension and is so much tastier (thanks Ina!).

So not only was there lots of cooking this weekend, but one item ended up resulting in all sorts of applications (the chicken, the stock, the veggies...). And now when Ina's recipes call for "good chicken stock" (which it what it actually says) I can pull it out of the freezer instead grabbing a stock cube. I'm sure food will taste magnificently better for it. (So I'll keep telling myself.)

Monday, July 25, 2011


I know that title doesn't make any sense but at the end of a particularly long and taxing "day job" week, I'm struggling to find my creativity. Those (boring) things aside, all I have to say is YUMMMM to the piccata. I've never made this at home, but spying it in the BC (Barefoot Contessa for all of you Mikie-food-post-virgins) it looked both yummy and quick. And boy, was it both. I stopped by the neighborhood butcher earlier in the week to pick up some fresh chicken breasts and had him butterfly them for me (he sort of did a rubbish job-- next time I'll have a go at it myself) and then all I had to do is pound them out between two sheets of plastic wrap (great for getting out some aggression, might I add), dredge it through flour, egg and breadcrumbs (in that order), fry it up in lots of olive oil for two minutes per side and then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Some fresh lemon juice, wine and lots of butter later, you have a sauce and voila! Done! A terrifically quick and delicious meal all in 20 minutes (including prep and getting on the plate). My kind of meal.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gwyneth's Cookbook: First Attempts

Breakfast probably being my favorite meal (well, it's my favorite party... I used to love to host and go to brunches), I decided to try a few of Gwyneth's (yes, we're on a first name basis) breakfast recipes first thing on a rare sunny Saturday morning. I couldn't pass up the apple spice crumble muffins (they reminded me of my beloved Mani's apple spice cakes-- vegan, no refined sugar and absolutely delicious) and turkey breakfast sausage. Both were YUMMY. I had to substitute the spelt flour called for in the recipe with whole meal flour because it's impossible to find spelt flour in Northern England (even a trip to the health food store yielded a big fat fail), so I'm not sure if that changed the chemistry in the muffins or not. And I also learned that "corn flower" is the same as corn starch (so now I have two boxes-- American and British). Plus I've now exhausted the very last of my lovely grade A organic maple syrup (also something I can only find in London-- called for in both recipes). I also added a little more spice to the turkey sausage because I think ground turkey in Britain tastes a little off, so I usually spice it up to compensate. I'm off to make vegetable stock (also from GP's cookbook). Can't wait to try some more recipes...

Homemade turkey breakfast sausage

The turkey sausage recipe called for fresh sage. Luckily the herbs I planted in a hanging basket outside of the kitchen door are growing like gangbusters despite the chilly temps!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Think We Would Be Great Friends

I heart Gwyneth Paltrow. Not in a stalker kind of way-- I mean, I haven't even seen all of her movies (though Sliding Doors has to be one of my all time favorites), nor do I own the soundtrack to Country Strong (haven't seen that one either)-- but I do have the music from Duets (love me some Huey and Gwyneth). But in the way that I think she seems like a really cool, down-to-earth chick, despite of her Hollywood legacy and status. She just seems like she's a kindred spirit; and, even though I've never met her (and the likelihood of meeting her seems pretty slim), sometimes I feel like we're ships passing in the night-- my having lived in the places she has (or nearly near-- she in London, me in Manchester; she in Santa Monica, me in the SF Valley; both in NYC). She's someone that I'd love to sit down and have a meal with (and cook with!). Not to mention since we both married Brits, it would be fun to compare notes and lost in translation stories.

I picked up her new cookbook, "Notes from my Kitchen" in Waterstones yesterday (the US version is called "My Father's Daughter"). I'd flagged it as something to check out when it was first published but hadn't come across it until this week. I was drawn in right from the introduction-- she talked about food just like me! Her passion for food and how it's woven into her family life is the way that my love of food has been instilled in me from a very early age. I come from a long line of amazing "home chefs" and from a food culture (as opposed to foodie although there are certainly some of those too)-- on both sides of my family: father's (American Southern) and mother's (Hawaiian-Asian). Not many people know that food in Hawaiian culture is intrinsically about family. It's where loved ones gather to share their lives; it's a symbol of love and welcome-- I always joke that you can't walk into a Hawaiian household without breaking bread-- or at least taking something home with you. And there's never a shortage of food either. You will leave stuffed to the gills and with a doggie bag. MRN (and his initially unsuspecting family who've now been properly "Hawaiianed") teases me about it constantly. For me, as it seems it is for Gwyneth, feeding people is showing them how much I love them.

There's many things that I love about this cookbook (I haven't made anything yet since I just got it but I've already dog-eared lots of pages). First-- it's beautiful. Not just the food pictures (I hate cookbooks without pictures. While the recipes might be great, you eat with your eyes first, and I find food pictures to be inspiring and mouth-watering), but the layout, the fonts and the icons (easy references for if it's quick, freezer friendly or "make-ahead," vegetarian, vegan, a one pot meal or a fancy meal). Yes, once a typography lover, always a typography lover. And perhaps the BEST thing? The English version is written in British English-- measurements and all (and cooking times in both C and F-- although now I'm going to have to figure out if "teacup full" is a US "cup"... I think this cookbook might end up with my scribbles reverse-translating back into American English...). She's also translated ingredients for what we can find here in England (e.g. single cream... which I still haven't figured out if that's half and half)-- so no lengthy Internet searches to find substitutes and no more guessing as to how many cups of butter I need for a recipe (because I usually guess which has made for some interesting outcomes). Okay, and the BEST-best thing? She even has a recipe for turkey breakfast sausage patties-- my all time favorite breakfast item from the US that I can't get here. Yay! Now I can make my own! I also love that she's included her tips for a "well stocked pantry"(or cupboard in the UK)-- and that I have most of the things on the list in my own pantry (aside from some of the vegan and health food items that I need to order online or pick up when I'm in London). But mostly, it's the recipes themselves. I don't think I've ever had a cookbook where I want to try everything in it (sorry, Ina). But seriously, there isn't a recipe that doesn't seem absolutely delectable. Bonus? They all seem to be straight-forward and relatively easy (as we know, my requirement for cooking). Score!

I've always believed that you can make absolutely delicious food without all of the brouhaha. It seems Gwyneth would agree.

(The U.S. version)

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Few of My Favorite (NYC) Things

In my continued effort to organize (and categorize) my blog, I stumbled upon this list, still in draft form, that I originally wrote in 2006. I had lived in Chicago for two years by then, but clearly was missing NYC and my 7+ years of living there. The list still holds true today-- and there are countless more things that I could add. But at 60 things, it's probably a good place to start. I think 75% of the things on the list are food-related (restaurants, markets and food). Good to know some things never change.


1. Astoria
2. Diners
3. Chocolate egg creams
4. Broadway Tavern (neé Station)
5. Lemonia (it's not called this anymore, but it's still some of the best Greek food you'll have outside of Greece... just look for the place on Broadway/30th street in Astoria)
6. Elias' Corner (Greek seafood and ornery waitresses in Astoria... YUMMM)
7. The Yoga Room
8. Buttercup Bake Shop

9. The notions district

10. The fact that I could get anything, anywhere, at anytime
11. MOMA Design Store
12. Central Park
13. NYC-only restaurant chains
14. The fact that you always get napkins with any food item you buy (even if it's just coffee) and that everything always comes in a paper bag (even coffee).
15. Street food vendors & ginormous cinnamon rolls.

16. Papaya King
17. Roasted chesnuts for your pockets in the winter
18. Good Enough to Eat
19. Theater-- all and any

20. The N Train
21. Eisenberg's
22. Subways in general, actually
23. That you always know where you are (except maybe sometimes in the Village)
24. That 20 blocks equals a mile
25. That even streets ran East

26. The Queensboro Bridge

27. 31-62 29th Street
28. My view from Apt. 6f

29. Kate's Paperie
30. Chat-n-Chew
31. Campbell Apartment (the bar/lounge)
32. oh-- and the Campbell's Apartment (1361)
33. Grand Central Station
34. 41st Street (between Madison and Fifth)
35. The New York Public Library
36. Dancing in the rain in Bryant Park
37. Karaoke in Korea-town
38. Brother Jimmy's
39. My little slice of heaven on 23rd street between 6th and 7th
40. That I never once made the street fair on Broadway in Astoria (but the NYPD always knocked on my door to let me know that I should move the car before it was towed)
41. Ciao Bella (both the original and the upgrade in Brooklyn)

42. Basillica

43. Mister Softee
44. Going to three different Tasty Delight's, in a three block radius, to find the right flavor
45. J.G. Melon
46. Eli's

47. Zabar's
48. Arthur Avenue (and Dominic's)
49. That in NYC there are three places-- in Manhattan ALONE-- to take the freakin' GMAT; in Chicago, there's ONE.
50. That in NYC, I'd be able to find the Merrell boots I want in about a hundred places (and in Chicago, no one's ever heard of them...).
51. That some of the best friendships of my life were made there.
52. That said friends made my last days in NYC the best ever-- accomplishing my "wish list" of walking over the Brooklyn Bridge; having drinks on the roof of the MET, and seeing the Public Theater's production of my FAVORITE Shakespeare play, "Much Ado About Nothing," in Central Park (starring fellow VC alum, Lorenzo Pisoni), all in one day.
53. That there are still so many things that I want to do there.
54. Montu and Casey dancing in the street.
55. Montu and Casey in general.
56. The Daves and their Times Square haven.
57. My soul sister, Jes.
58. The sanity to my insanity, Mary C.
59. The Conran Shop.
60. Christmas in NYC.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Puy Lentils: Part Deux

MRN asked that I clarify that he did NOT enjoy the lentils. He ate everything on his plate simply because I made it-- not because they were good (I thought they were good). I have filed that information away for the future (oh, and for this morning when I snuck two spoonfuls into his canned soup that he takes with him to work. I figure it will only make it better, right?). I know-- a bit evil. But I only have his best health in mind (so I keep telling myself. It has nothing to do with the two tuperware-fulls of left over lentils from dinner the other night...).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Salmon with French Green Lentils

Another (delicious) and SUPER easy Barefoot Contessa recipe, this time from Barefoot in Paris. (One of my favorite BC books; also contains her cauliflower gratin recipe which literally makes MRN swoon). Are you thinking, "... lentils and salmon are French?" I know I did. But apparently, it's very French-- particularly the lentils, which I learned about on a trip to Paris earlier this year (that was as much a culinary delight as you would expect). These peppery little treats are smaller than their lentil cousins, and are the finest but most expensive of the lentil family. They are also the meatiest, richest tasting and remain quite firm after cooking making them excellent for salads (so say the experts). Also known as Puy lentils (because they were originally grown in the soils of Puy, France), green lentils are popular ingredients in French rustic cooking. I've had them as part of a hearty lunch, served with pork; though I much prefer this version with salmon. Leave it to Ina.

I've included Ina's recipe for the lentils as is, below-- but this makes far more than 4 servings, so my recommendation would be to cut it in half (as it is, we'll be lucky to get through the rest of the lentils this week). Next time I'd also omit (or at least reduce) the red wine vinegar because it gave it a bit of a sweeter undertone which I didn't love. For the salmon I didn't follow Ina's recipe (gasp!) because it seemed like too much faffing about for me (as the English say)-- heating pans for specified amounts of time and then searing and turning. Instead I just simply rubbed the salmon with olive oil, generously salted and peppered and then roasted, skin side down, on a aluminum foil covered roasting pan at 400 F (about 200 C) for 10 minutes. You don't get that lovely sear that Ina gets, but it's still delicious.

I'd say this recipe was a "good"-- I loved it (minus the red wine vinegar) but MRN only liked the salmon and not the lentils (but might I add, he ATE all the lentils on his plate, and I didn't skimp). We may want to chalk it up to his not liking veggies generally (and the fact that I tend to add a lot more than recipes call for and hide it in his food... sue me. I'm trying to keep him healthy so he lives a long, long time). But since he wasn't jumping up and down and ultimately he's my guinea pig, sadly I can't give it two thumbs up. Thumb and a half?

  • 1/2 pound French green lentils such as du Puy
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus extra for salmon
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 11/2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 11/2 cups chopped carrots (3 carrots)
  • 11/2 cups Homemade Chicken Stock or good canned broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 4 (8-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets, skin removed

For lentils:
Place the lentils in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the celery, carrots, chicken stock, lentils and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season to taste. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

For salmon (this is where I digress-- for Ina's actual recipe, click here):
Rub with good olive oil and salt and pepper generously. Place in oven for 10 minutes-- I have a fan assisted oven, so this is the perfect amount of time; but if you have a standard oven, may want to check to make sure it's cooked. Should be just cooked through, not pink; Although if not serving right away remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil. It will continue roast out of the oven to the perfect temp).

To plate:
Gently run spatula under salmon, just between skin and bottom of fish, to separate fish from skin (after all- you don't want to serve guests something inedible that will make their lovely plate of food unsightly!). Place fish on plates and spoon lentils on either side (or as I did, spoon lentils first and place fish on top). Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shoe Love

I know I have an unhealthy attraction to shoes, but sometimes there are just a pair that makes my heart skip a beat. Admittedly, since getting married (and having to curb more frivolous spending for practicalities like fixing walls and pipes and things), I've reined in my shoe purchases (oh-- and lack of space, of course). But upon seeing these, I couldn't help but suck in my breath and think, "I NEED." Okay, okay-- I know it's completely irrational to NEED shoes. So I quickly altered that statement in my head to "I WANT." They're called posh wellies. And posh they are, those lovely shiny wellies with a lovely grosgrain ribbon accoutrement. And upon showing them to my very kind and completely indulgent MRN, his only response was, "Those are so you." (See? Very indulgent.) Never mind that I already own a pair of perfectly sufficient wellies (okay-- and I love them; they're purple). And I certainly don't need TWO pairs of wellies... I mean it rains constantly here, but I don't wear wellies that much (although MRN does tease me because I do wear them almost every time it rains... Did I mention they're purple??) But even so, I think I may dream about these... yet another test of my resolve, it seems!

**UPDATE** (A mere two hours after posting)
The more I look at these, the more I think that I DO need them. Doesn't the green one look like Christmas? I know, it's a sickness...

Monday, July 18, 2011

DIY Tailored Roman Shades

Well, sort of. We've lived in our little house for 3 years and still don't have anything on the windows. Well, not 100% true, I suppose. We have vertical blinds-- probably the last remnant of MRN's home decor B.M. (Before Me). While they're perfectly utilitarian they're, well, perfectly utilitarian. Plus, because our windows are massive (seriously-- the ground floor-- containing living room, kitchen and laundry room, is smaller than my living room in my old Chicago apartment). The one in the office (which these shades are for) are the smallest ones in the house-- 3ft-3in wide x 5ft-4in long. Yes-- they're the height of the average woman. While it's great because it means lots of light (well, when the sun shines in England, that is), it's been awful for finding curtains or shades because the size means custom which translates to expensive.

I'd finally decided on roman shades because our rooms are small and all the windows have obstructions that would prohibit curtain rods or curtains (cabinets, closets, walls) and I like the look of shades over blinds. But as usual, my brain threw a wrench in things. I had an idea of what I wanted and couldn't find anything that fit the bill. I wanted something clean and tailored, maybe a geometric print in a fun color. Of course, everything I found that I loved was in the US. I couldn't find anything remotely similar here in the UK. And the crazy size plus custom sewing plus international shipping made for a $500+ price tag. No way. Exhaustive internet searches of every UK website yielded nothing. I couldn't find any pattern I liked and plain colors just seemed boring. And I just couldn't stomach settling for something while still paying exorbitant prices for custom shades. I even entertained (for about a half of a second) finding fabric and learning how to make my own roman shades, but I couldn't find any fabric that I could live with (oh, and I can't sew).

Oh, but while I can't sew, am not crafty and hate DIY projects, I can come up with ideas... and so this was born:

Plain white (translation=cheap) roman shade made to order to the window size (approx 50 GBP)


38mm black grosgrain ribbon (11 GBP for 50 yards-- I used about 4 yards, give or take)


Pretty perfect, tailored look

Sometimes I CAN turn my ideas into reality.

Before: Vertical blinds

After: Roman shades

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just a Kiss

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I think someone's hankering for a party!

And that someone would be ME! Does anyone want to take me to one?

Latest pins on pinterest (aka my new favorite website) on "My Style" board:

Friday, July 15, 2011

The great pantyhose caper…

…would make a terrific Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys title don't you think? Alas, this mystery may have more to do with my complete lack of fashion sense than an actual mystery. But the question is:

When did it become a fashion faux pas to wear pantyhose/nylons/stockings?

With all the brouhaha over Duchess Catherine's leg wear of choice during her recent North American tour, rather than join the pundits and their gasps of incredulity to the Royal's audacity to don sheer leg wear, my reaction was, “Wait a second! I wear pantyhose!” Oops. Is it just because it's shiny? (because I can tell you from first hand experience-- they only sell shiny pantyhose here in the UK) or is it really out of fashion and I'm really, really old??

So that got me wondering—where did pantyhose come from anyway? (aaaaand here comes my nerdiness) A quick troll around the Internet revealed that apparently in the 1920s when hemlines rose, sheer hosiery in the form of “stockings” emerged to allow women to keep some of their propriety in tact. Originally made from silk or rayon, they weren’t the stretchy (and sucking in) variety we know today. Instead, they were either knee- or thigh-high and fastened to a waist belt or held up by garters. It wasn’t until 1938 when nylon was invented that all hell (innovation) broke loose and an industry so blossomed. As for the "panty" part of the "hose?" Apparently it originated in the 40s and 50s when those wily costumers down in Hollywood (and on Broadway) started having the nylon stockings sewn to the panties of actresses and dancers (presumably to keep them-- and other bits-- in place). Who knew? Pantyhose reached its height of popularity in the 70s and 80s but the mid-90s brought a steady decline, apparently due to “bare leg fashion” (hmmm… missed this trend too) and changes in workplace dress code (casual Fridays and-- gasp! trousers!). Plus, let's not forget replacement costs resulting from frequent (and might I add frustrating-- seriously, nylons are a once-wear item for me) runs in the fabric leading to the good old pantyhose's demise. But while traditional pantyhose has come out of fashion, new styles like fishnets, patterned, colored and opaque tights have flourished (I love me a patterned tight) as well as “shape wear” (can we all stand up and do a little dance for Spanx my friends?). Oh—and on the more things that make you go hmmm side of things, apparently pantyhose for men is rising in popularity. Hmmm.

Despite all of this, the royal ladies never got the memo it seems, and they are advised (translation: required) to wear pantyhose when on official business. I don’t know if it’s been a significantly slow news week (I mean, as far as I know we’re only still at war, health care is still in crisis and Rupert Murdoch is going down in a ball of flames), but the press coverage on the Duchess's “tights” (as they say in England) has been absolutely mind-boggling. Check it out here, here, here and here. I wonder if Kate (can I call her Kate?) is wondering, "Justin brought sexy back and all I brought back was pantyhose?" Sorry-- couldn't resist (nerd comment #2).

(Fun fact: a google search of "pantyhose royals" yielded 173,000 results... the top search page all about Kate.)

But what do I know? Does it mean I’m proper enough to be a royal? (I’d choose Princess over Duchess too, Kate.) I guess I’m still stuck in the 80s (where, by the way, the only tights I was wearing was to ballet (white tights) and tap class (shiny nylons—awwww yeah!). In Jazz dance we little 8 year olds got to go bare legged)-- it wasn't all bad!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Organization: FAIL!

I promised an organization update from my preview a few days ago-- and I was all set to nuzzle up to my computer and get my writing on until... iPHONE FAILURE. Hence, no photos of the project. And that gets a big boo. My phone has given up it seems-- turning itself off in mid-use. Checked the battery, tried a force restart, tried plugging it into a computer and a power source, fail, fail, fail and big time fail. So if you need to reach me-- it's the old fashioned way (land line!) until further notice. Hopefully my photos aren't lost (because although I'm a prolific user of technology and love my gadgets, I am horribly remiss about backing said gadgets up. Blah).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tortilla Soup Update

Day two of the soup-- if it doesn't get eaten in one go and there are leftovers, day two makes it a really yummy chili. All the liquid soaks up into the chicken and veggies. While you can add more liquid, I decided to give it a go as chili and added a packet of taco seasoning for more flavor. I thought... hmmm... chili cheese fries? A look in the freezer revealed fries (or chips as the English would say that MRN had somehow snuck in there when I wasn't looking. Lucky me! A quick reheat of some of the chicken tortilla-now-chili, poured over fries and garnished with some chopped onions and cheddar cheese? YUMMMM.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Channeling my inner Mexican

Full disclosure: I'm not actually Mexican.

I mean, growing up in Southern California, I was often mistaken for being Mexican (or Filipino-- I'm not that either). This is probably because of my mutt-ness (translation: mixed ethnic background) which has lent itself to my being able to blend in in a lot of places. Take NYC for example- there I was often mistaken for Puerto Rican or Dominican. It's really a shame that my Spanish isn't better. Although I'm a good faker.

All that to say, I must have been Mexican in another life because I love Mexican food. It's my go-to comfort food after Japanese, Chinese and Italian (for the record, I'm not Japanese or Italian either-- though, there is some Chinese in here). Alas, Mexican food is virtually impossible to get in England (oh, okay-- GOOD Mexican food). This has led to me trying to make Mexican food. Alas, without an abuela of my own, I'm having a hard time making it authentic. But I am having a go at it.

The latest round started with breakfast. I was craving huevos rancheros and chilequiles from Loteria Grill at the LA Farmer's Market. Oh, lovely chilequiles with choice of salsa and huevos with choice of rancheros. However, because proper ingredients are scarce here (umm-- doritos do not a corn chip make), I can't quite seem to replicate. So I make this instead:

It's essentially a cheese quesadilla with cholula sauce inside and a scrambled egg cooked with chopped green onions and red chiles. I will sometimes add salsa or black beans, but often times I eat it just like this (if you look closely you'll see that I already started before I remembered to take a photo).

My sis then turned me onto a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup from the wonderful Year of Slow Cooking blog at the same time I found one from The Pioneer Woman. Score! More Mexican-flavored goodness (because, as far as I know, neither of these women are Mexican either). I liked elements from both recipes, but wanted to use the slow cooker because, well, I have one (oh, okay-- because it's a hell of a lot easier than standing over the stove). Plus, I didn't exactly have all of the ingredient (because while I glanced at the recipe, it would have made way too much sense to actually write anything down). I chose to boil the chicken with onions and garlic because I think it comes out so much moister (although, I guess it's going in the soup, so it doesn't really matter)-- next time I may roast it like the Pioneer Woman does.

Anyhoo-- here it is: Crockpot 365+Pioneer Woman+Mikie B. Chicken Tortilla Soup.

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • 2 sm-med white (or yellow) onions, 1 diced, 1 cut into chunks
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 8 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large can of sweet corn
  • 1 small jar of salsa
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed (or you can use dried beans, but you need to soak them overnight-- for at least 8 hours-- it's easier to used canned. Too bad I didn't have any...)
  • 6 cloves of garlic (mince 3; smash 3)
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 3-4 small, hot chiles, diced (optional)
  • 4 c chicken broth (I used a combo of chicken bouillon cubes and the stock from the boiled chicken)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
  • Diced avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro, chopped red onion (all optional- for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Place chicken in stock pot and cover with water and add chunks of onion, smashed garlic and a tsp of kosher salt
  • Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until fully cooked
  • Remove chicken and some of the onion/garlic and place in baking dish to cook slightly
  • Shred chicken with two forks (or fingers-- which is easier-- if it's cool enough)
  • Combine cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and oregano
  • While chicken is cooking heat olive oil in a frying pan and saute onion, minced garlic, red and green peppers and half of spice mixture until soft
  • Add beans, corn, crushed tomatoes, salsa, veggie mixture, diced chiles (if adding) and shredded chicken to crock pot
  • Pour in chicken broth and add tomato paste
  • Cook on low heat for 8 hours
  • Stir in 1/2 c sour cream and toss in tortilla strips before serving; let sit for 15 minutes to let tortillas soften (you can't get good corn tortillas here, so instead I crumbled tortilla chips-- also not great but it was okay-- on top just before serving). Taste before serving-- I significantly amped up the spices because I like lots of seasoning and it tasted a bit bland, despite the heavy salted ingredients like chicken broth. But feel free to experiment and add/remove things you don't like (e.g. the spice)
  • Garnish with toppings, as desired

Friday, July 08, 2011

You've gotta be freaking kidding me

First there was this to torture me as a child:

And now there's this to torture me as an adult:

Nevermind that these are both BOYS. If I ever have kids, they're totally getting names like Bob and Mary.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


I'm a big fan of the old fashioned. When I was little I loved Victorian everything-- the clothes, the shoes, the history. I even talked my mom into subscribing to Victoria magazine (yes-- it did exist) so I could relish in days gone by. I loved Anne of Green Gables and wished upon wished that I could wear those beautiful dresses with puff sleeves (oh, and marry Gilbert Blythe of course). Old movies (Garbo, Bacall, Hepburn, Grant, Bogart-- you name it, I loved them) I'd watch with my grandmother. I loved the 50s-- the music, the poodle skirts (I had several that my mom made for Halloween but I decided I loved them so much that I would wear them to school... oh, yes. Purple plaid poodle skirt with a white Hawaiian-print shirt. I think there's a photo of me at Disneyland in that gem of an outfit).

So imagine my delight to have read this article in the NYT this morning. The emergence of old fashioned soda shops and even better, soda jerks? Score! I LOVE me a chocolate egg cream (How can you not? A drink that contains neither egg nor cream?), and would faithfully order one, regardless of time of day or what I was eating, if I spied it on a menu. Not that they were prolific. I had to do some serious hunting in my NYC days to find one (of course my favorite Eisenberg's has them). Ice cream sodas, egg creams, REAL cherry, vanilla or chocolate cokes? Yummmm!! If I still lived in NYC, I would totally be heading to the Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain for a potato head sundae: vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, caramel sauce, whipped cream and North Fork potato chip wedges. Awww-yeah. (Plus-- love the name. It's a play on fact that the building used to be a real pharmacy and the locally sourced products that he uses in his recipes-- hence FARM. The owner even kept some of the crazy old stuff that was in there-- like ointment tins from the 40s and anti psychotic drugs from the 70s to display alongside his wares and, well, ice cream, I guess.) I love that these emerging soda shops are sourcing local products and making their own concoctions-- from syrups to ice cream. What a great thing for sustainability-- not to mention a totally fresh and delectable gastro-experience.

If only one would open in England. Although we'd probably have to introduce the concept first. I had a "coke float" at a restaurant the other day... because it was there, of course. It was a summer special, apparently. Special it was but for all the wrong reasons. That, my friends, is another blog post altogether.

********ORGANIZATION UPDATE*************

You may have noticed that my organizing frenzy has extended to my blog-- if you peruse the right hand menu, you'll see some organizing additions such as a search box (which I'm not convinced really works) and labels (like my recipes or food pics? check out food/foodie/recipes. can't get enough of my randomness? check out warblings; want to check out the latest home disaster/makeover? Well, you get my drift). I'm not quite finished going back through and cleaning up labels (5 years of blogging... while I'm hardly a consistent blogger, there still are A LOT of entries), but soon it will all be labeled and yours for the finding.

PLUS! I've added "reactions" to each post under comments... so, feel free to react! (or suggest other reactions to add-- you can customize!) :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Getting organized

I'm in a bit of an organizing frenzy. I go through one every once in a while where I need to throw away all the clutter, give away the clothes, shoes, dishes I don't wear or use; or just more generally change things up with a new picture, pillow or some other redecoration (even if it's just moving things around). I suppose somewhat inspired by Gladys and finally being able to find my shoes, I've now started to tackle other areas of the house.

Case in point: the kitchen junk drawer. Does every kitchen have one? I certainly always have (well, except for in NYC where my kitchen only had one drawer. Seriously.). No matter how many times I empty the thing out and organize it, it always seems to fill up again (suspiciously with things like screwdrivers, nails, bolts, fishing wire and cuff links... not that I'm blaming anyone...). So last week, I decided that I'm putting an end to the not-being-able-to-open-the-drawer-and-having-things-smooshed-out-the-back-into-the-trash-below nonsense (smooshed is the technical term). And I bought a drawer insert from Ikea.

Seeing as our kitchen is from Ikea, it fits perfectly. But it seems to be a standard size that would fit in most kitchen drawers (although you never know-- those Scandinavians have some funky sizes). I forgot to take a before picture but if you have a junk drawer, and chances are you do, you'll be able to appreciate the after. I.LOVE.IT.

Now to tackle the junk drawer in the bedroom dresser. Sigh.

New project (also of the organizing nature). Details to come...