Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wrapping Up the Rest of the Day

After a busy morning of moving Phu in, we headed back to his old place (still home to Amy and Pete) to wait for his parents to arrive. While we were all hungry for brunch, I know Andrew was pleasantly distracted by Sydney, the adorable pup that Phu was pet-sitting. While Andrew is the one grinning in this shot...
...it's clear to see that Sydney is enjoying the attention as well!

After brunch, we had enough time to go home, shower, change, bake for a Memorial Day BBQ on Sunday (in my case) and head out to a Red Sox game at Fenway:
I couldn't think of a better way to end the day than enjoying balmy weather, a cold beer and a Sox win!

Memorial Weekend Moving Day

Almost three months after our big moving day weekend, it was time to put the muscles to work to help Phu move into his brand new studio apartment in Cambridge. Thankfully, there was no rain on this moving day!

One of the first things to go was his big screen TV, which thankfully was a flat panel and light enough to be carried down the stairs:

Phu's girlfriend Magali also served as free labor and hustled one of Phu's many bikes (the kid owns like five of them) outside:

While I thought Phu had a pretty full bedroom, along with belongings scattered around the apartment, turns out all his possesions fit nicely into the back of my car and a rented U-Haul truck. You can tell these things belong to Phu because of the plants:

The two biggest plants went into the back of the U-Haul. Did I mention that he had actually moved a bulk of his plants the day before? You'll see what I mean further down in this post.


It was time to say goodbye to the apartment in Brookline...



...and hello to a brand new apartment in a gorgeous building:
I loved all the green spaces around the building, including large patches of beautiful purple flowers complete with benches to take in the view:
Walking into the apartment, it's all stark white walls until you hit the massive wall of windows that faces Phu's new kitchen and dining/living room. I think his plants add the right touch of home and life to his new new space:
Here's his beautiful new kitchen (adjacent to the windows) with stainless steel appliances and granite counters:
A surprisingly roomy bathroom:
And the studio bedroom that is not quite a studio, since there is a half wall separating it from the kitchen/living room space:
It was exciting to check out Phu's new apartment and the whole moving-in process only took a few hours.  We ended up toasting his new place with the strawberry lemonade served in solo cups.

The unpacking process may take a little longer, but I think Phu will find much to be happy about in his new digs. Congrats Phu on being a homeowner!

Best Strawberry Lemonade Ever

For some reason, inspired by the warm weather and the long stretch of weekend ahead of me, I decided fresh squeezed lemonade was just the thing to make as a treat for Phu's moving day.

I had never made lemonade from scratch before and it was pretty much as simple as you would think for a recipe that only has three ingredients (plus one that I added).  However, there were a few tricks I picked up courtesy of the comments section on Allrecipes.


Ingredients
1 3/4 cup white sugar
8 cups water
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (I used six lemons)

First tip is to soak the lemons in hot water for ten minutes to help soften them up. Once you are ready to start squeezing, be sure to roll them on a countertop to prepare them for juicing.
The other tip is to create a simple syrup with the sugar and one cup of the water.  Combine both ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure all the sugar dissolves.  Creating the syrup rather than adding the sugar directly to the lemonade ensures that there is no grittiness from lingering sugar granules. Cool the syrup to room temperature before adding to your lemonade mixture (mine was sufficiently cool at 30 minutes).

Next, let the juicing commence. I used a simple $1 hand juicer that I had picked up at Ikea. After squeezing the lemon simply with my fist to get all the juice out, I followed that up with hand juicer to ensure I got every bit of juice and pulp from the lemons:
It was a tad bit messy but it certainly did the trick, and it actually didn't take too long:
This was the amount of lemon juice that I got from six lemons, minus one half that I used to create decorative lemon slices:
On a last minute whim, I sliced half a pint of strawberries, muddled them, and threw them into the lemonade jug to create strawberry lemonade:
A few hours later, the flavors had a chance to soak in and the ice cubes I added kept it nice and chilled. Truly a recipe that lived up to its name!

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Step Closer...

With yet another rug purchase, our dining room is looking more like the real thing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Close Quarters Are Romantic

While I've been lamenting the lack of wedding-related tasks that Andrew and I completing, we did accomplish one major "check" on our list - the honeymoon!

Early on in the engagement, when I would get asked about the honeymoon, I kept telling people it was one of the last things we would focus on simply because it was the one area that didn't require securing a vendor far in advance of our wedding date. I figured we could use Orbitz or some similar site, and call it a day (still true).  In addition, the honeymoon seemed so far away that it was hard to get excited about it when we had to focus on getting the wedding planned first!

However, Andrew and I had a moment a few months back where a casual discussion on where we'd like to go for our honeymoon crystallized into a definitive plan, all in one day.

When Andrew got the official ok to take two weeks off from work, we went ahead and promptly booked our:

Cruise to Italy, Greece, Turkey and my personal favorite - EGYPT!!


I've always wanted to go to Egypt, ever since I did a report on it in the fifth grade and made pyramid cupcakes to accompany my presentation (thus starting a life-long tradition of baking).

This is what our room is going to look like on the seventh deck. I'm not going to lie, we went for one of the cheapest rooms without a window because we figure that we'll be spending most of our time on the rest of the ship or doing shore excursions.


Plus, what could more romantic that being squished into a full size bed with your new spouse?

All that's left is to book our flight and we will be ready to go. I'm not going to lie, with how intense work has been/will always be on top of all the other craziness in our lives, I wouldn't mind a two week vacation right now!!

The only weird thing was booking the cruise in my maiden name - I figured I wouldn't have time to get any official legal documents changed to my married name before we depart for our cruise. However, I will be letting the world know my married name as soon as I can, starting with the ticket agent at the airport who could be swayed into upgrading us as newlyweds! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Labor of Love

The art project I've been working on for the past month as a way to channel all my frustrated creative thoughts?

A moving announcement to share our new address with friends and family (limited production of 20):

The inspiration for our announcement came from a Save the Date design I found online. Unfortunately, I don't think what I achieved captured the same sort of wistful, watercolor charm of the original. I guess there's a reason I'm not an artist!
As simple as they may look, it took me weeks to find the time to find the right cards, print sections of text on them, measure out the borders and watercolor it by hand. 

But you know what? They're colorful and happy, and convey the fact that Andrew and I have embarked on a phase of our lives together and are truly sharing a "house of dreams" (one of my favorite Anne of Green Gables references). Roll your eyes and cue the sappy music, but gosh darn it, we're in love with each other and in love with our house. Hooray for that!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fruits of His Labor

Last weekend was exciting for Andrew due to a delivery by FedEx - grapevines!

Two seedless Concord grape vines to be exact. That's right, anything can be delivered through the mail these days:
Andrew was very pleased with his selection. His inspiration? The grapevines his parents planted in the house he grew up in:
Like most boys, Andrew happily went to play outside in the dirt - I mean, dig manly holes in the yard for the vines while I heckled him from the deck above:
What you can't see in the pictures is the lattice that faces this part of the side yard. With the two vines securely planted, we're hoping they will grow and mature into a nice cover on the side of the deck, plus a great source of grapes that are well suited for juices and jellies!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

In Bloom

We've brought a little bit of May's flowers inside with our new entryway rug:


It was a slight splurge, but I minimized the cost with a $20 coupon code and a free $25 gift card promotion that the company was running for Mother's day. I can't wait for it to arrive this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Choices, Choices

Although I've been avoiding making wedding hair and makeup choices, simply because the two frighten me (!), at this point, I'm pretty sure I'm going to wear my hair up. I think I may even have some sort of style in mind, but that will remain under wraps (a girl's got to keep some things a mystery, especially when her fiancĂ© reads her blog every day). 

To veil or not to veil, and what type of veil is whole 'nother debate for another time.

But for the reception, I know I want flower(s) in my hair. And I'm leaning towards these two choices, with a slight modification - gray pearls or a gray/white pearl mixture instead to go with my color theme.

Choice 1: Meaghan - I love the cluster look and the varying sizes - it's feminine and dainty:


The second choice: Elyse (promise not to be influenced by the fact that it's not displayed in a hairdo).  It's more of your traditional one-flower look, but I love the slight lace accent on one side that would complement my dress nicely:

Both come from the same vendor, so I'm guessing the quality would be the same. After surveying Etsy's selection for a few hours, I just really liked the quality of this vendor's flowers and the fact that her prices were reasonable and middle-of-the-road.

So what do you think?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nuernberg Wedding Cup

We received our first wedding gift over the weekend, courtesy of one of Andrew's thoughtful cousins who is stationed in Germany with her family.

A Neurnberg or German Wedding Cup!
What the heck is this thing other than a lady in a full skirt sculpted out of pewter? And believe me, it does have a surprising amount of heft to it.

The story that accompanied the cup states:

Centuries ago, in old Nuernberg, the nobel mistress Kunigunde fell in love with a young and ambitious goldsmith. Although Kunigunde's wealthy father (a powerful nobleman) did not approve of this pair, it was clear that she only wanted the goldsmith to be her husband as she refused many titled and rich suitors who asked for her hand in marriage.
Her father became so enraged that he had the young goldsmith thrown into the darkest dungeon. Not even his daughter's bitter tears would change her father's mind.


To her father's dismay, imprisoning the young man did not end his daughter's love for the goldsmith. Instead, he could only watch as his daughter grew paler and paler as a result of the separation from her true love.


The wealthy nobleman reluctantly made the following proposal: He told his daughter, "If your goldsmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop, I will free him and you shall become his bride".

Of course he was certain nobody could perform such a task...


Inspired by love and with skillful hands, the young goldsmith created a masterpiece. He sculpted a girl with a smile as beautiful as his own true love's. Her skirt was hollowed to serve as a cup. Her raised arms held a bucket that swivels so that it could be filled and then swung towards a second drinker.

The challenge was met. The goldsmith and the nobleman's daughter joined hands in marriage and with the bridal cup set forth a romantic and memorable tradition as charming today as it was originally hundreds of years ago.

To this day and to many couples the chalice remains a symbol.


Love, faithfulness and good luck await the couple who drink from this cup.

So how did Andrew and I become aware of this cup and come to own one? Through his mom's side of the family, Andrew is of Scandinavian descent (via Minnesota). We spotted one of these cups at his grandfather's house when we visited in January, and I was thoroughly charmed by the described tradition of using this cup for weddings (Charlotte can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Andrew's aunt Barbie used one at her wedding).


Picture this tilted sideways with the groom drinking from the chalice formed by the woman's skirt, and the bride drinking from the swiveling cup on top.

I think between Charlotte and Aunt Barbie, Andrew's cousin Karla somehow came to hear that I had admired the cup and was able to send us one as a gift.

I can't think of a more unique way to bring a tradition from Andrew's side of the family (the non-Portugese side!) and have a beautiful keepsake to admire afterwards.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Six Down, Two To Go

Some things are just meant to be.

After Andrew and I scored the table we were lusting over for a ridiculously low price at the Wrentham Outlets, we were having problems finding the right dining room chairs. We didn't like any of the ones we saw at the Restoration Hardware outlet, plus, they ranged in price from around $200 to $500 each. Which could make one chair cost as much or more as our table.

After keeping an eye out in furniture stores, Andrew spotted this chair in Marshalls of all places.
A genuine leather Parson chair for a VERY reasonable price.

















The only problem was that the Marshalls we were in only had two in the color we liked. And they couldn't locate the chair in their other stores via computer system; we were told the only way to find it was to individually call other stores and ask them if they had them. Andrew used his iPhone to call 8 - 10 stores while we stood in the store but could only locate one more in Hingham, even after expanding his calls to include Home Goods stores (Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Home Goods are all owned by the same parent company).  So despite my urging to just go for it and buy the three on the hopes we could locate five more, we walked away from the chairs. This was on a Sunday.

Come Wednesday, I was returning home from a business trip and was promised via text message that Andrew hoped he had a surprise for me. When I walked into the house, I saw SIX of the chairs in our dining room. Andrew had apparently called THIRTY stores earlier in the day, and after expanding his reach to include TJ Maxx, had hit the jackpot. He found four of the chairs at a TJ Maxx and returned to the Hingham Marshalls to get the first two chairs we had found. At this point, the one in Marshfield had already been sold.

All that's left for us now is to locate another two chairs or find a similar style "arm chair" to use at the head of the tabe. But it definitely feels good to have gotten such a great deal on chairs that we love. Even looking online at retailers like Overstock.com, they were selling faux leather chairs for much more than we got these chairs for. It's finds like these that totally make it worthwhile to take our time furnishing the house, rather than rushing to buy things simply to fill the empty spaces in our house.

UPDATE: As of tonight, we have the last two chairs! I happened to walk into a Waltham TJ Maxx during lunch and found the last two waiting for me. After fitting them into my trunk and my backseat, I have to state that I can't believe Andrew was able to fit six into his car at one time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tool Time: Toro Blower/Vacuum/Shredder

I thought I would take the time to share something I've been experiencing since we've moved in.

Andrew showing off yet another gadget that he's deemed necessary for the house and/or yard.

Note the look of glee on his face. I have to point out that I haven't seen him get this excited about wedding planning (except maybe the cake tasting portion of the process):
I believe this was about the point where he's promising me all that he can get done with a tool that has three different functions:

To his credit, he did manage to clean the deck and our paved backyard quite nicely over the weekend before we had family over for lunch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weeds vs. Plants

Can you tell which is which?


We really couldn't, even after consulting the landscape design blueprint the previous owners had left behind:
But using the map as a guideline, we methodically took out any type of plant we guessed was a weed. We started off doing the weeding by hand, but really got going once Amy discovered the garden claw in our garage (a relative had given it to me years ago and I had forgotten we owned it):
Of course, Andrew wanted to get in on the garden claw action:
Success! We were amazed at how big some of the root systems were for the weeds:
Afterwards, we admired a neat and trim perimeter.
I think doing yard work really made me feel like a homeowner. Andrew's been handling all the yard work for the past couple of months (even putting down grass seed a few weeks ago that is sprouting nicely) but this was the first time I got out a few hours to get work done. I probably accomplished around 5% of the work, but feel inspired now to plant flowers and vegetables in some of our newly cleared spaces.

It's Just a Little Rattling Noise

I'll admit. I'm not the best of car owners. I'll get my oil changed on a semi-regular basis and take my car to the shop only when I hear something that sounds out of place.

After getting my oil changed at a Jiffy Lube a couple of weeks ago (long overdue, I'll admit) I started noticing a faint rattling noise to accompany the slight squeaking in my breaks. Andrew could hear it in the mornings as I pulled out of the driveways. So I made a mental note to bring into the dealership when I got a chance, but it didn't stop me from driving all the way to Bridgeport, CT and back for a business trip last week. Didn't notice any problems and the rattling noise was slight and you could only hear it occasionally.

Which is why I wasn't worried when Amy borrowed my car this weekend to drive down to Westport for a bachelorette party (touring the wineries).  I warned her about the noise she would hear but didn't expect anything to come of it.

What I didn't realize was that the rattling was actually my muffler bouncing around. It got so bad while Amy was driving that she pulled the car over, looking underneath and couldn't find anything wrong. When she pulled into the parking lot of the inn she was staying, my muffler fell completely off the car! Thank goodness she wasn't on the highway when this happened.

So when she returned the car today, this is what was sitting in my trunk:

So yeah. I'll be in work late tomorrow since I'll be dropping my car off at the closest dealership to work. Now I'm afraid of what else they're going to find wrong on the car.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sushi, New England Style

The one bummer about our new town is that Andrew and I have not been able to find good takeout food that is close by. You've already heard me whine about the lack of decent Thai food. There isn't a good Korean restaurant nearby - in fact, we tried Apgujung's sister restaurant in Canton and it just wasn't the same, even though it had the advantage of being a BYOB establishement, so we decided that it was better to simply drive all the way back to Newton when we get a craving for okdol bibimbap.  Chinese, I don't tend to crave at all since compared to all the other Asisan cuisines I love, it seems to be the unhealthiest and least tasty of the bunch.

However, we struck gold with a Japanese place, Ichiro sushi,  that is miles within our house. Better than that, it delivers! We've already ordered from them twice in the past couple of weeks.

One of our new favorites? The Red Sox maki roll (pictured on the left with spicy tuna on the right):
It comes with lobster, asparagus, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, tobiko and spicy mayo the inside:
That's a good-sized chunk of lobster! And I know it sounds weird to be eating it in a sushi roll, but it actually tastes amazing with the spicy mayo.  Not pictured is their deliciously crispy tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) that I've gotten Andrew hooked on. We're definitely putting this restaurant on speed dial and we'll actually have to dine in one of these days.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Julian vs. Korean Food


Another thing that occupied my time this week? Dinner with our friend Julian on Monday. You may recall Julian from this post but may not recognize him without his "kit" on.

Poor Julian had biked over to our new place the week before but neglected to tell us he was coming over. His surprise visit was truly a surprise for him as well, when he pulled up to our house and realized we weren't home! After calling us to express his surprise (in true Julian fashion), we made "official" plans to meet, with the goal of 1) having Julian try Korean food for the first time and 2) see the inside of the house (after having ample time to examine the exterior on his own!)

Thus, I give you my photo montage which I think adequately shows Julian's personality and reactions to dinner at Apgujung (dialogue supplied is my own creative thought, just imagine thought bubbles over his head).

"What?! There's no fork on the table? How heck do I use these things? And where did that camera come from?"



Here, Julian realizes that salad is tough to eat with a fork but he learns that he does like the Asian ginger salad dressing:
"What the heck are all these small dishes? Am I expected to try them all?" To his credit, he was brave enough to try a piece of kimchi:
Finally, Julian happily eating his entree of chicken bulgogi and rice which I had helped him choose as an extremely safe choice for his first Korean meal:
The verdict? I think Julian could be persuaded to eat Korean food again. And most importantly, he liked the inside of our house as much as outside and seem particularly enamored of our three season porch.