29 September 2010

Scattered {Jewelry Display} Creativity

I love the jewelry holder I made for my place in Bristol, for almost nothing! I bought a picture frame at the 99p Store (the UK equivalent of the Dollar Tree) & placed some funky free handouts I had been given behind the glass. Next, I stuck some sticky-back hooks to the front. Finally, I tied some ribbon to the hooks on the frame & hung it on my wall. It both displayed my jewelry & acted as a piece of art in itself! And it was so easy to make.

This one, spotted yesterday on design me daily is a beautiful, simple rendition of the jewelry frame, too.


28 September 2010

Going (Happily) Overboard at Target

Yesterday, I finally made my way to my beloved Target. I knew I couldn't walk away empty-handed, but even I was surprised at how many items I wanted. Here's what I bought:

Pretty much all of my skirts are denim, black, or gray, so I'm excited to pair this lacy green skirt with lots of tops! (It was on clearance, too!)

Yes, this is the same top as above in a different color. It is seriously the perfect top. I wanted it in white/black plaid & purple, but I contained myself. 

Lately, I'm a bit over plain ol' blue jeans, so I'm loving these gray ones! 

Anyone who is a leggings person (which I very much am) needs to go to Target right now & buy these. They are nice & thick (so they can be worn as pants or with a skirt), the perfect length (& they come in cropped length too), & they're only $5! I might go back for them in gray...

Target had loads of cute cardigans, too, but I thought I'd save that purchase for when it's not 100+ degrees outside.

Love love love Target & sprucing up my wardrobe! Now to concentrate on the search for the perfect boots!


Birthday Day & Birthday Soiree

veggie kabobs from my birthday bash

My birthday (last Wednesday) was pretty low key. I just hung out with my mom for the day, which was so nice because until only two days before I hadn't been home in eight months! We shared steak nachos at Dos Coyotes, went shopping at the mall (no purchases - I wasn't in a decision-making mood), then hung out at the park (she practiced her penny whistle while I painted my toenails & read).

For dinner, we got takeaway salads & sour-cream-&-chive mashed potatoes (heavenly) from Jack's Urban Eats, one of my fave restaurants, where I worked the summer after graduating high school after the manager commented that I was there more than some of the employees. (I've toned my consumption of their food down a bit since then, but I still love it!)

In the evening, I met a couple of friends for a drink at The Corner bar & restaurant near my neighborhood. While I waited for mis amigas, I made a new friend - apparently the Head Chef, hanging out after hours. He bought me a shot, which is not usually my thing, but it was my birthday so I was feeling adventurous. Plus, I'll be honest, I wanted my birthday to be acknowledged since for the most part it was so relaxed. While chatting with my pals, my new friend brought over warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie with ice cream on top! Everyone in the bar sang to me, & then we devoured the dessert in all of its goodness.

This weekend was my planned celebration, & I must say I planned it well! For beverages, I made white sangria (a hit!), red sangria, & berry margaritas. They really took the bite off the hot day. And my food theme was kabobs:

* veggie kabobs: red peppers, yellow peppers, eggplant, zucchini, red onion, & button mushrooms. oven cooked.
* chicken kabobs: marinated in Sioux-Z-Wow, and alternated with either pineapple or apple slices. oven cooked.
* caprese kabobs: cherry tomatoes (red, orange, & yellow), mozzarella chunks, & basil leaves. served fresh, with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, & freshly ground pepper.
* fruit kabobs: apples, oranges, plums, strawberries, & pineapple. served fresh.
* strawberry & chocolate kabobs: whole strawberries with shaved chocolate sprinkled on top.

My mom & her fiance also made a huge bowl of amazing guacamole that was gone in minutes!

[I somehow managed to completely fail at taking photos, but the veggie kabobs are pictured above, & the caprese ones are below, pre-dressing.]

Overall, it was great to see the friends who are important to me. I got lots of love - hugs, cookies, cards, a few gifts, & some catching up. I was happy to find that my high school friends & college friends really like each other, too! My only real regrets are (a) that I didn't take many photos & (b) that I didn't get any games going (so I guess I'll have to plan another get-together soon).

Over & out for now, but I do plan to get back into blogging more regularly, so keep your eyes peeled!


22 September 2010

scattered {back from england} thoughts

My ramblings today will be brief because, at 9:30pm, I am soooo ready for bed. I wasn't feeling too jetlagged last night - I even drove home - but today I'm definitely feeling it. It has seemed like bedtime since I woke up!

It's good to be home though. My mom and her boyfriend completely cleaned my room before I got here. They vacuumed & hand dusted the whole place (which, having hard wood floors, gets very dusty), & washed all my bedding, including my pillows & duvet, & even the cushions on the crates I have set up under my window (to look like a bench). That took lots off my to-do list & made getting under the covers so snuggly, even on my first night back.

I saw my friend Rachel today, which was fabulous. We ate strawberries & caught up on life. Then I ran some errands, met my mom for a salad wrap lunch, unpacked a bit, went on a jog, & made dinner. Whew, what a full day! I still have more unpacking to do, & I need to clear some closet/drawer space before Jonty arrives next week. And, of course, I need to start the job hunt, but we'll save that topic for another day.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I must say, turning 23 is a lot weirder than turning 22. Or 21, for that matter. I think it's going to be an exciting year. Considering it's completely up in the air, it must be, eh? My plans for tomorrow are pretty low key. During the day, I'll hang out with my mom. We plan to make omelette wraps & head to the park. She wants to go shopping for a present for me, but I'm not really interested in stuff, so hopefully I can persuade her to just hang out in the nice weather & read & relax. Maybe even whip out the nail polish, if we start feeling frisky. Then, in the evening food & a drink with friends. I'm having a soiree of sorts on Saturday (more on that later - I'm excited about the menu!), so I'm not doing anything big. I didn't even really invite anyone, just threw a last minute post up on Facebook telling people that if they're free & want to help me celebrate another year to let me know. I haven't even decided where to go yet. Hopefully, it will work out to be a fun day.

That's all for now. I seriously need to sleep. For like ten hours. Night!


P.S. My mom just texted me this from the other room: "I want an alligator sandwich. And make it snappy." Oh, how I love being home.

21 September 2010

Just What I Need

As I write this, I am on a long-haul flight from London to San Francisco. But when you read it, I will be safely at home, where I haven't been for over eight months.

The past month or so has been pretty crazy: lots of stress, coffee, moments of inspiration, then surges of stress again - with a side of nostalgia. But my dissertation is completed, printed, bound, & handed to the proper authorities, my flat has new tenants, & I've said my good-byes to everyone in the UK. If you're reading this, I've also made it through an eleven-hour flight, thanks to free alcohol & coffee, my laptop, & my new read, Catch-22. Oh, & a lack of sleep last night, which I have made up while sitting upright, somehow.

Anyway, on to the the point of this post: Jonty. Through all of my stress breakouts, anxiety episodes, flashes of genius, & confidence waxes & wanes, Jonty has been such a trooper.

And I realized something about him, something very important. He is so good at knowing just what I need. Even when I don't. He knows when it's time for a break, & when I need a hug. He can tell when I need to go on a run or punch a pillow to get my tension out. Sometimes, I try to refuse his suggestions, but once I give in I know that he was right all along. He gives me pep talks when I'm down & space when I need time to chill out. He makes me breakfast in the morning (& gets upset when I even step foot into the kitchen). If I need to work hard without distraction to meet a deadline, he makes lunch or dinner (or both).

Even when he's not sure what will help me, the boy tries more than I've ever seen anyone try. He makes such a conscious effort to assess what will cheer me up, get me into a productive mindset, or whatever. And I have to say, What more could a girl ask for? He is such a blessing in my life.

But actually, as I write this, I'm thinking, "There is more a girl could ask for." Intelligence, passion for interests, a good family relationship, open-mindedness, comedy... Somehow, he's got these too.

Sorry for drawling on & on, but my guy deserves some acknowledgment.

Thank you Jonty, my love, for knowing just what I need. The truth is: All I need is you.


04 September 2010

Versatile Tuna

Lately, I've been going a bit tuna crazy. The fish is an easy, light lunch option, & it's just so tasty & versatile! Here are some of my favorite ways to eat tuna:

* Kiddie sandwich (a favorite in childhood): tuna with mayonnaise &/or light plain yogurt, slices of cheddar cheese, dill pickles.
* Adult sandwich: tuna with ranch dressing, tomato slices, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce. (Also delish with mayo/yogurt & lemon pepper, instead of ranch.)
* Fancy sandwich: tuna with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, provolone cheese, lettuce.
* Tea sandwich: tuna with mayo &/or light plain yogurt, lowfat cream cheese, cucumber slices.
* Tuna melt: tuna with mayo &/or light plain yogurt, cheddar or colby jack cheese. Made like grilled cheese (pan-fried or grilled).
* Waldorf tuna salad: tuna, a dab of light plain yogurt or mayo, diced apples & celery, raisins.
* Garden tuna salad: tuna, a dab of light plain yogurt or mayo, cucumber, red or yellow bell pepper, red onion (optional). Served on a bed of lettuce or spinach.

Be creative. But don't go too crazy, though, because canned tuna often contains mercury, which is fine in small doses but can be harmful if too much in ingested in a small period of time, especially for pregnant women and children. To avoid this, buy "light chunk" tuna, and don't eat it more than once or twice a week. (This is advice I haven't followed this week... oops!)


01 September 2010

Yum: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Hi friends! Firstly, thanks for sticking with me through my recent lack of posts. And more than that, thanks for all the lovely dissertation wishes in comments lately. They actually do give me a little extra positivity & a little extra push. Seriously, I love you guys. I didn't create a blog for the people at all, but I realize now what a great thing it is to have that little connection with people around the world who have similar interests, problems, etc.

Because you guys are fabulous, & because I don't have enough procrastination options (hah), I've decided to tell you about a lovely little meal I made recently: Vietnamese spring rolls (aka salad rolls).

I fell in love with spring rolls during my sophomore year of college. There's a Vietnamese restaurant by the library at Sac State, and I discovered that their spring rolls are the best combination of healthy & cheap on campus. When I passed by an Asian supermarket on Gloucester Road the other day, I popped in & inquired about the harder to find ingredients (specifically, the big noodle that you wrap it all up in, called Vietnamese rice paper). I bought these and the noodles that go inside (rice vermicelli). The total was about £5 ($7), but the packages gave me enough noodles to make lunch for the rest of the year!

This is suuuch an easy meal to make, whenever. I like to make one set for dinner and extra to save for lunch the next day.


For wrap:
Vietnamese rice paper
Rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles)
lettuce (romaine is best)
bell pepper
frozen shrimp

For sauce (optional):
Peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
Hoisin sauce
Any oil - I used olive (optional)

1. Place the rice vermicelli in a bowl of lukewarm water for about 10 minutes.
2. Microwave the frozen shrimp. (It should take about 2-3 minutes.)

3. While the noodles are softening, slice the vegetables into thin strips. I used a vegetable peeler for the carrots. (The lettuce can be a little bigger.)

4. Once the vermicelli is done, you can start making the wraps. Dip a sheet of rice paper in lukewarm water for five seconds, then put it on your work surface.
5. Place all of the ingredients on the rice paper in a line.

6. (Make sure the line of fillings is horizontal, &) Roll up, starting with the edge closest to you. When the roll is halfway done, tuck the sides over & continue rolling. It's best to try to get the roll as tight as possible without breaking the rice paper, but getting it right can take a few tries. Practice makes perfect.

For the dipping sauce, I mix crunchy peanut butter (straight up ground peanuts, not Jif) & hoisin sauce (bought at the supermarket), with a dab of olive oil to make a bit more saucy. I use about 3 parts peanut butter, 2 parts hoisin sauce, & 1 part oil (or less).

Thai sweet chili sauce also works well as a dip. Or you can just have it plain & fresh!

Vietnamese spring rolls are very versatile. You can put pretty much any combination inside them. This is my favorite combo, but you can also take out the veggies you don't like and/or add new ones (cucumber and zucchini are also good ones). Another yummy option is to throw leftover chicken in it instead of shrimp, which goes well with some avocado or even strawberries inside in addition to or instead of the carrots and/or bell pepper. Get creative with what you have and what you like and ENJOY!