Monday, February 26, 2007

Sweet Embroidery

Among my other projects, I've decided to start a new one, inspired by the latest Martha Stewart Living magazine and my awesome embroidery treasure I found while thrifting a few weeks ago:

I got the turquoise embroidery hoop at Michael's the other day and thanks to my embroidery find, I'm nearly sure I have all the embroidery floss colors I need for now. One thing I'm disappointed with Michael's though, is that they don't have embroidery ribbon...c'mon Michael's...what's up? Guess I'll have to order some online. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy this little project. Yea, I bought one with the pattern on it's been awhile since I've embroidered, so I figured I'd take it easy to start. But much like sewing and riding a bike, it's all coming back to me. I'll try a new stitch, only to realize that I've already done it...I just forgot I knew how to...sounds crazy, right? Guess that's what happens when you get stuck in that "college bubble." You know, when time stops and you lose touch with what happens in the world? Maybe that was just my college...I dunno. Anywho, it's kinda a good feeling, doing something you used to enjoy. Like going home after you've been away for's very comforting.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

French Pastry, Dear?

This Saturday, my sister and I decided to do a bit of shopping. She's a black belt in Tai Kwon Do (third degree) and just happens to have a fascination with Asian stuff...we are half Asian, but that's besides the point. For Christmas, I purchased a belt for her made out of real kimonos and obis. We decided to stop by the boutique where I purchased her belt b/c there was a whole booth setup of pillows, belts, hair bows, table runners, and more made out of kimonos and obis. On the way, we spotted this lovely French Bakery and decided to make a stop on our way back. I'm glad we did.

The front of this fab bakery

The bakery is located in an "artistic" part of town - an industrial area that is being revamped - so lots of buildings are actually old warehouses made over. The bakery is located in one of these, so the structure is quite open and airy, which I think adds extra personality.

Inside we were greated by gobs and gobs of goodies - les croissants chocolats (my favorite) and other airy options

Gorgeous tartes of all sizes and chocolate truffles...mmm

They even had bite-sized tarts (top left), which were only about an inch in diameter.

My sister got some extra information on some of the sweet treats...

...and decided on a puff pastry filled with cream cheese.

I ordered a few things, but only ate the one in the front of the box - a puff pastry filled with almond cream...yummy! I was saving the others for later - the truffles were for my sweetie and the petite tart for me. Unfortunately, he so sweetly reminded me that we had given up dessert for Lent...doh! I had to give them to my sister :(

The chefs worked right behind the pastry displays, so we got to see some tarts being made. I can't wait till Lent is over...I'm so going back here the first day I can eat dessert again!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Secret Garden - Uptown Style

I have a friend who has worked at the same company where I am currently stationed, and he's been there for awhile now, so he knows the ins and outs. Today, since the weather was so gorgeous (it hit 70's!) he showed me where a "secret garden" is. Ok, it's not a garden, and it's not really secret, but it seems that way. In uptown, especially during lunchtime, there are people everywhere hussling and bussling about, so to find a space so virtually empty makes it like a secret space. According to my friend, there are lots of these "secret gardens" all just have to know where to go. Here's where we went today:

French Pastries - Authentic!

Ok, so these French pastries weren't made in France, but they were baked by a French baker - as in a baker from France...that's the next best thing, right? I visited my parents this past w/e and managed to talk them into stopping by one of my favorite cafes in town, Paris Cafe. I thought I'd share what we enjoyed with some nice, hot cups of coffee:

Mom's - Walnut Pecan Tart

Dad's - Raspberry Lemon Tart

Mine - Almond Cream Tart

Je suis gourmande!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thrifting For Spring

I had today off b/c my company gets bank holidays...yay! Holidays are good, but I always feel like my "extra holidays" go wasted. I usually sleep in, then I have to run errands, clean up...the next thing I know, my whole day is gone and I didn't get to do any of the fun stuff I wanted to get done like crafting, baking, thrifting. Well, ok, I did manage to fit in some thrifting, but why do these days go by so quickly when my work days seem to go by so slowly? I guess time flies when you're having fun? I dunno...but I wish there were more hours in the day so I could finally get some well-needed crafting done.

I did manage to find this fab white vase thingy and some vintage books.

I'm not really sure what it's supposed to be used for, but I thought these silk hydrangeas would look quite nice with it. What do you think? I'm channeling Martha Stewart again...this reminds me of something I'd see in her Martha Stewart Living magazines...very springy too! I bought the books for their color...I've never heard of the titles or authors before...hmm...maybe I should google them to see if they're at all interesting?

Here's a great find I've been meaning to post about for awhile now.

No, I didn't thrift this. I wish I did, but I got it on ebay for a reasonable price. Can you believe they actually still had the carrier? It's a vintage Pyrex with a turquoise bird's one of the best pieces of my collection...I think, at least.

Anyone else out there thrifting for spring?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

His V-Day Dinner

Just so you all don't think I got the short end of the stick this year...we usually both do celebratory dinners, regardless of whose "night" it is for dinner. I usually cook...he usually takes us out somewhere nice. We went to a little local Italian restaurant, run by a real Italian family w/ a real Italian chef, so the food is absolutely top-notch.

I love how they do their bread here. Slices of fresh bread with a bean/garlic/herb concoction...delicious!

Fabulous entrees...he got a buccatini pasta with cherry tomato sauce, large shrimp, a half lobster tail. I had veal with a mushroom demi-glaze sauce (sp? wish I had the menu to check) served with the starch and veg of the day - roast potatoes and a julienne vegetable medley.

Any how could we not do dessert? Homemade tirimisu with a super frothy cafe latte...mmmm

Shoulda Been V-Day

So, I was planning on making a romantic dinner at home on V-Day. As I mentioned in a previous post, we trade nights for dinner and V-day fell on my night. I had full intentions of creating a fabulous feast, but after starting my new job/project...I simply didn't have it in me to put the fab dinner I wanted to do together, so I ended up doing the tacos and heart-shaped cookies. Here's the dinner I intended to shoulda been for V-day...

Dan and I love to go to Olive Garden for dinner. We love the salad...we love the breadsticks...we love the food...we love the dessert...I mean...what's not to like, really? Anywho, I always get the same thing: Chicken Parmesan and fettucini alfredo...I know the other entrees are fab, but I just love mine so much, I can't bear to switch. Anyone else have this problem? I've been trying to figure out how to make my version taste like theirs, but I just doesn't. Luckily, it still tastes mighty yummy. :)

For the fettucini, I use a Giada deLaurentis recipe, sans the lemon juice. I can't find the recipe online any more, it is available in her cookbook though, but the reviews said that the lemon juice was so strong, and lemons are $1 anywho, so I figured I'd save the $. It tastes fab w/o it. If you try this, do be sure to get fresh fettucini...they seem to sell fresh pasta in most grocery stores nowadays - near the cheese, usually.

Ahh...chicken fave. I've found a couple recipes that are pretty good for this. One from Food Network show "How to Boil Water", which I think they may have cancelled b/c I haven't seen it on TV for awhile. You may be able to find the recipe online still. Basically, I dipped scaloppine chicken in a lightly beaten egg mixture, then Italian bread crumbs, then I saute in olive oil and butter. Brown chicken on both sides, then place in a baking pan - I usually use a deep baking pan - preferably so they're not overlapping. I top each piece of chicken w/ a tablespoon or so of marinara sauce, then lots of mozzarella. You can also grate some freh parm over the'll already have some on hand if you do the fetuccini alfredo. Then, bake until the cheese melts - about 15ish minutes.


Friday, February 16, 2007

New View

I managed to snap a couple quick shots of my new office view. I used to be on the top level of my office building at the consulting office, but there were only 3 floors. Now, I'm working in the downtown area of town, on the 7th floor of a high's my new view:



I can't imagine what the view from the top floor must look like.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

V-Day Cookie, Darling?

I've started a new job today...sorta. I'm a consultant, so my company sends me on various projects, and I've just started a new one at Wachovia in uptown Charlotte. It's a whole new ballgame - most of the projects I've worked on were at small companies, which usually had no more than a couple hundred employees. Now, I'm working at the headquarters for Wachovia, right on the trading floor, so things are going to be quite busy for awhile. The good news is that I don't have to travel, as some people are sent off to Boston or Miami, and I'm still within driving range, but it's very, very different.

Anywho, the bank hours are quite long...or maybe just late? I used to leave work around 4 or 4:30 PM (because I got to work so early), but now I'll be at the bank until 6 PM or later...ugh. Oh well, I like to think of myself as a dedicated worker so I'm going to make myself love this new schedule. Maybe I'll have time for some blogging or crafting in the AM? Either way, I'm sure I'll adjust soon enough, but the extended hours certainly didn't help my planning dinner tonight. I fully intended to look up a nice recipe and try to do something fancy - maybe something from Barefoot Contessa or Everyday Italian - but I was so tired, I ended up just making on me. I hope I made up for the not-so-romantic dinner with these:

I tried getting the dough rolled out and ready to bake before one of my fave shows, Bones, came on...

I only missed a couple minutes, but was super happy to find out that these cookies only took about 5 min to bake. Yea...I made them from a dry mix...I cheated a little, but at least I kinda handmade

Ok, cookies are baked and ready to get prettied up

Anyone out there subscribe to Martha Stewart Living? If you do, you may recognize these heart-shaped marshmellows...ok, so they aren't the best-shaped hearts, but I guess either my cutter was too big or my marshmellows were too small, b/c I didn't have any outline leftover after I cut the heart out, and I barely got that part done!

Day-licious-O! Happy Valentines everyone!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday Brunch - Barefoot Contessa Scones

I've been wanting to try the cranberry scones I saw Ina Garten make on Barefoot Contessa for weeks now, but I finally worked up the courage to try them this Sunday.

I don't have a KitchenAide yet, which really made the mixing part of the recipe difficult, but I got the job done

I cut the recipe in half, and it came out just fine, but I should have paid more attention to the reviews on, which said to lessen the cooking time. Anyone out there wanting to try this recipe out should def heed that advice...the scones didn't burn or anything, but they could have been a tad bit more moist...then again, they are scones, huh?

Either way, my co-workers seemed pretty happy that I had a couple leftovers to bring in this morning, as they were gobbled up pretty quickly.

Quick & Simple Dinner - Moroccan Style

Ok, so it's not an authentic Moroccan recipe, but it is a Rachael Ray recipe. Anyone familiar with her cooking style will know that the recipes aren't necessarily genuine, but they are super simple and sure do taste good.

For anyone looking for a quick & simple & more importantly delicous meal, then check out paage 62 of Everyday with Rachael Ray...umm...oops...just realized that I ripped the recipe out of the mag and don't remember which issue it was from, but it was definitely a fall/winter 2006 magazine...sorry I can't remember!

Serve over a bed of couscous and top with chopped parsley. I totally dig this recipe because it's so simple, but what I really love about it is how it's different. This is a great one to try if you're tired of eating chicken and you want to try a new flavor style altogether.

I Need Spring Cleaning

How did this happen to my craft room?

Ok, ok, you got, it's actually almost always looked like, ever since I moved into my apartment almost 6 months ago. But, having a day job, my jewelry business, and 3 blogs, not to mention my natural desire to cook and craft, I feel like there are simply never enough hours in the I right, girls?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Channeling Martha

I've been busy working the night away making and preparing these bridesmaid earrings for shipment to the lovely MOB (Mother of the Bride).

I decided to include an extra lil something for the bride to take on her honeymoon and tried my hand at channeling Martha for the packaging with some new heart ribbon I picked up at Michael's earlier this week

I hope she likes it!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Chic Superbowl Snacks

I had a good idea of what to cook for the Superbowl yesterday. If we went to someone's house, the idea would be out the door, but if by chance, my sweetie and I had a cozy day in, I had a fabulous meal planned...

As you can see, we stayed in...

Mmmm....Philly cheesesteak sandwiches with seasoned french fries...yummy!

Lovely Vintage Plates

I have been having such good luck plate-hunting lately...

oops! Did I just jinx myself? Knock on wood...darn you, superstition!

Anywho, I've found some of the most amazing plates lately to add to my growing collection. I picked up this stunning stack of dainty little plates from Salvation Army a few weeks back. It's a bit hard to tell from the photo, but they have slightly worn golden edges, but the best part - a delicate circle of little flowers and butterflies...these will be perfect "Tea Party" plates!

I found these babies at a local antique/consignment store. I am so in love with turquoise, which is unfortunate, b/c they seem to be the hardest color to find. I suppose on the positive side, it makes the thrill of the hunt even more enjoyable b/c it's much less likely to make a great turquoise find! Anywho, I love this set of 5 turquoise rimmed plates with flower center design, even though one of them has a crack...they're just so pretty!

Anyone else out there have any amazing finds lately?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Just Wow...

So, I'm standing in line at Salvation Army with my Villeneuve signed/numbered, limited edition art print, when I spot this woman looking at a simple brown box across the counter...what could it be?

Then, I noticed something...
a long thin piece gosh, is that string? Oooh...If only I could see from across the counter. Could it be a box of vintage sewing goods? I imagined a collection of vintage spools, needles, and patterns as I crossed my fingers and hoped the woman walked away.

Well, she did walk away...and straight to the counter where her friend was checking out in front of me...I heard her pose a question to the (I believe he is the) manager of the store. "10% off since this has been here since the 23rd," he says. I see her thinking...the wheels in her head are literally turning. Should I run over while she's distracted and grab the box, I wondered? way...I just can't.

So I waited her out...and eventually, she walked away. I took that as my cue to move in. I asked the man behind me in line (and there was quite the busy on Saturday!) if he would watch my place in line. He very nicely said he would, so I hurried over to the other side of the counter before anyone else could beat me there.

I slowly opened the box lid to see what treasures would be inside and voila! A whole collection of embroidery floss. I was slightly disappointed at not finding the assortment of vintage goodies I had previously imagined, but continued to inspect the box.

I found a drawer at the bottom of the box containing an assortment of brand new, unopened DMC embroidery floss...hmmm...not too shabby, I thought. But, it seemed I was missing something. Like there was another way to open the box. I stood there trying to figure out this new puzzle before me and tugged on the middle walls...pushed them to see if they'd slide out. Maybe if I just lift the top...

"I didn't know the top came off," said the woman who had been looking at the box before, as we both stared at the huge collection of embroidery floss, secretly stashed under the top section of the box. How much was it? $29.99 - $27 after the 10% discount...I happily lifted the box, headed back to my place in line, checked out, and took my new goodies home.

Of course, being the organization freak that I often am, you know what I had to do...

Yea, it's color coordinated now. Luckily, each of the cards were already numbered. I even found an official DMC color list to use for my order...I'm such a dork!

Signed, Numbered Thrift Find Print

I found the most amazing floral print to hang in my craft room. I barely spotted it, as it was behind some other frames, but Salvation Army was lookin good this weekend with all the great treasures I uncovered, this being one of them:

It's even signed and numbered!

The frame appears to be a bit skewed - doesn't quite lay straight against the wall - but it's still really pretty and I like it. :)