Thursday, February 24, 2011

Recognize Anyone?

Some more love from our wonderful photographers, Ciras Photography:

This montage was posted on Valentine's Day. The first time I saw Heather (from Ciras Photography) use this type of image for photos was on an earlier post coveirng our wedding details.

Also, bonus points if you can pick out which one of these pictures is from our wedding.

I've Got Mail..

I haven't participated in  a BzzAgent campaign in ages but couldn't resist this one.  This package arrived in the mail for me today:

The Barely There (brand name) No Slip Fit bra. I couldn't resist the opportunity for a free bra. How often do you hear that phrase? But that's all you're going to see folks, I'm not splashing my underwear on the Internetz for everyone to see. Just the box!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Best Chocolate Chip Shortbread Ever

I had mentioned given a sneak peek of this shortbread in an earlier post, and it was so good that I ended up making it three times in one week. First, as a favor for a coworker. Second time, it was to make it in the traditional fashion (no cut out shapes) and to bring a little something for Camie and her husband James. But really, I think Andrew and I ended up eating most of that batch. Third time, I made it for my office's monthly potluck and saved some of it to serve for dessert later on in the week. The thing I love about this recipe is that it has just a few ingredients and is so easy to make. I love it when things come together like that. And seriously, when you taste this shortbread, you'll think to yourself, "Why do I waste my time making fancy, elaborate desserts when something so simple tastes so good." Just clean, delicious flavor without too much going on to distract from it.
So where did I get this wonderful recipe? For those who follow food blogs, it'll come as no surprise that it's a Smitten Kitchen recipe (originally by Alice Medrich). As its original name suggests, it's a twice baked shortbread recipe but I added my own twist by adding chocolate. Which is weird coming from the girl who doesn't like too much chocolate in her desserts. I think this shortbread would still taste fabulous on its own, but having the mini chocolate chips added a little something that helped you appreciate the buttery, vanilla-y goodness of the shorbread in contrast. I think regular chocolate chips would be too much chocolate but mini sized, perfect.

Onto the ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Shortbread


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the scrapings from half a vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon salt or a couple pinches of flaky maldon (Kosher salt worked well for me)
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) all-purpose flour
Turbinado, Demerara or granulated sugar for sprinkling (Plain ole granulated for me)
1/4 bag of mini chocolate chips (probably around 1/2 cup), I just poured it in directly from the bag

Smitten Kitchen recommends a baking pan with a removable bottom, such as a 9 1/2-inch round or a 4 by 14-inch rectangular fluted tart pan, or a one-piece 8-inch square pan. I went with the 8-inch square pan and it worked out really well, espcially when I lined it with foil (with enough extra foil all around to hang over the edges)

In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, vanilla of your choice, and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Pat and spread the dough evenly in the pan. Let rest for at least 2 hours, or overnight (no need to refrigerate). Note: I made the recipe without resting and resting the dough, and honestly couldn't tell the difference in texture. So if you're impatient, go ahead and bake the dough right away.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

My own step - I sprinkled the sugar on top before putting the pan in the oven. That way, I could tilt the pan to ensure an even coating of sugar and get rid of the excess:

Bake the shortbread for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. Lightly sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with sugar. (I did this earlier) Let the shortbread cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the shortbread from the pan, being careful to avoid breaking it. Use a thin sharp knife to cut it into oblong “fingers”, wedges, or squares (I was pretty proud of how evenly I cut it):

First time out of the oven, the shortbread is still pretty colorless with a touch of brown around the edges. Place the pieces slightly apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

Cool on a rack once they're out of the oven, and try to resist the urge to eat every single piece (without sharing with your husband) in one sitting!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This Is Dangerous...

The big news in the wedding world is that Anthropologie finally launched its own wedding line, called BHLDN

I think I would've been in some serious trouble if this had been around when I was still in wedding planning (and shopping) mode.  As it is, both my wedding shower dress (bought on sale for half off) and my rehearsal dress came from Anthropologie. The dresses in this collection are all out of the norm and while there are some that I appreciated for their "wow" factor, these are ones that I actually would've pictured myself in or, at least tried them on in the dressing room!

This is a vintage styled wedding dress, but I love the color and detailing and could see it working well as a rehearsal dinner dress or for the old fashioned bride, what you would wear as your traveling outfit to the airport (harkening back to a time when people used to dress up to ride on an airplane):
This dress screams drama and yet again, I'm drawn to its beautiful color and the detailing. You'd have to be tall and skinny to pull this one off but it would be fun to try on!
Another beautiful dress, for bridesmaids, that I predict will show up on a lot pictures for "vintage" weddings in the next year - love the mauvey color and the lace pattern:

I hate to compare these shoes to a mullet but I'm going to - they are business in the front and party in the back and I adore them! Not so much the price.

Love the details, the brocade fabric and pop of the greenish/yellow. I don't know what dress I would wear these with, but I would buy a dress just to match these shoes!

I think it's for the best that these came out after I was married, because the prices are a little hard to swallow. Don't get me wrong, they pretty comprable with a lot of wedding lines, but it would be a huge splurge to buy a whole coordinated outfit (with accessories). But it's fun to browse and dream. :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Birthday Wishes For A Great Guy

Just a simple post to say Happy Birthday to my dad!  While it's already February 16 in Japan, we're still celebrating his birthday here for another four hours.

Here are some pictures from our Father/Daughter dance at the wedding, singing Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline (pics were swiped from my sister's album on Facebook, but I believe are actually courtesy of Andrew's talented photogapher dad!)

My wonderful groom tosses me a prop to use with the dance:

I wouldn't normally say that my side of the family has any rhythm but I think we look pretty rocking (and into singing the chorus):

A regular shot that shows how nice my dad looks in a tux:

So yes, I snuck a bit of a wedding recap into this, but hey, it's the last time I got to hang with him in person:

Happy Birthday Dad, I love you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

That's How We Roll

Happily, I made it back from Brooklyn in time to have dinner with Andrew tonight.  Our Valentine's Days are pretty low-key but we wanted to make sure we were spending our first Valentine's holiday as a married couple in the same state!

Driving into Boston, the Valentine gods were smiling on us since we were able to score an awesome parking spot right away on Newbury street.

Walking down Boylston, we caught a glimpse of the Prudential Center all lit up in honor of the holiday (excuse the blurriness, we could not get the camera to focus):

No surprise to those who know us, we had dinner at the Parish Cafe - yummy and not crowded, no reservation needed and just our style:

The warm(ish) weather made it comfortable to walk around and admire sights such as the lit trees along Comm Ave:

We snapped this attempt at a clearer picture of the Pru on our way to our final destination:
Our date night ended, as all good dates should, with frozen yogurt at BerryLine.  The counter girls dressed with pink flowers in their hair and pink beads around their necks, but I spared them from a pictue and opted for the festive sign up front: 

Baked Love

Here's a roundup of things that I baked over the weekend to help celebrate Valentine's Day.

Pumpkin bread for Andrew (this is usually his birthday request but he missed out the past year since we were on our honeymoon):

Pear-blueberry muffins baked in special Wilton silicone heart-shaped cups that Andrew had gotten me as a stocking stuffer two Christmases ago. I brought these along as a surprise for my coworkers since we were stuck in a half-day workshop in Brooklyn:

Chocolate chip shortbread (in this case, cut into hearts and dipped in chocolate as a favor for a coworker, who gifted it to his girlfriend). I (we) loved this recipe so much that I've made it three times in the past week - I promise to post the recipe and details later this week:

Here's hoping your Valentine's day was filled with tasty things as well!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


....are not much fun when you are forced to leave the comfort of your house to drive for four hours to Brooklyn.  I had to be in town for an early work meeting on Monday, and driving in Brooklyn made me realize how much of a "suburban" driver I am.

On the plus side, I did get to have dinner with Brooklyn-resident and good friend Camie, who gamely dragged herself to a restaurant despite the fact that she's recovering from the flu (supposedly not contagious anymore, as she assured me):

The poor girl wanted poutine but we walked straight out of the first restaurant we walked into, after Camie overheard the server saying that they were out of cheese curd. The nerve! So we settled for Sidecar, and their warm white bean dip with bacon, and the most delicious homemade tortilla chips, homemade regular chips and french fries. There may have been some other regular entrees thrown in there, but the fried goodness of all those sides is still sticking with me. Perhaps literally. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Accessorizing A Fireplace...

Andrew's mom Charlotte asked me last weekend if we had bought anything new for the house. My sad answer was not really, considering how empty some of our bedrooms are (which is why none of our guests are allowed on the second floor!)

However, we did have one humble new addition.  It's funny, before we were homeowners, I never looked in a Pottery Barn catalog or ever thought about fireplace tools.  Actually, I still don't think about fireplace tools but luckily, Andrew does.

He found this set and sent me the pictures, saying that he knew that the style would appeal to me. And he's right, the other sets we had seen were ridiculous overpriced and just seemed to be big, clunky and ugly.  I love the addition and I also love that he found it for a bargain price. Our second floor may be bare, but gosh darn it, our living is going to look amazing when we're through with it!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm Getting Used To It...

...but so is everyone else.

I've had my new last name officially for four months, as of today.  I got my name changed on important documents like driver's license and my passport in November, after we got back from our honeymoon. Credit cards, I didn't switch over until after the holidays because I didn't want to run into the risk of running into problems activating them during holiday shopping.

I butted heads with my company's HR and IT departments, and was able to gradually switch over to my new last name, with the final change occurring last week. So I think the new last name has finally arrived, and I'm actually starting to introduce myself using it, without saying my maiden name first.  Another biggie is actually remembering to sign credit card receipts with my new signature, although it looks like crap (practice makes perfect?)

But it made Andrew and I both laugh to see this package arrive from my dad today. I'm not sure if you can get the full effect with all the blackouts, but as you may see below, he started writing my maiden name and scratched it out with my married name.

To cut the poor guy some slack, he's been writing my married name on most things without a hitch. And to tell you the truth, people all around me have a hard time remembering my new last name (even today, my manager called me by my maiden name on a conference call and immediately corrected himself).

So you're probably thinking, wamp, wamp.  What's so exciting about a post that just states I have a new last name? It's all about the acclimation process for me. The true sign that I've gotten used to my last name? I've inherited the burden of explaining how to spell it to everyone. It's funny, it's a very simple name to spell and is very common in one of Andrew's heritage cultures.  But for that exact reason, everyone thinks it's spelled as another common variation (dropping an "i") which means I'm constantly getting misspelled named tags. And I honestly think I've corrected more people on the spelling in the past four months than I ever did with my Sicilian maiden name. I'm feeling like a true [insert last name] these days although with my maiden name as my "new" middle name, I'll always have a connection to both.


I think I've hit the point where I'm tired of posting about the winter. Almost.

The weather, work, a Comcast Internet outage and life in general have prevented me from blogging as usual. As in, I've been passed out on the sofa dead asleep at 9 p.m. because I'm so exhausted. Sometimes Andrew and I snoozing together.

Some things we've observed in the past week...

Pretty frost patterns in mudroom have become a beautiful morning site (ignoring the piles of snow outside):

The result of an entire's day worth of back-breaking (back soring?) work for Andrew - he used an ice pick to remove ice from our sloped driveway:

And something you don't see every day - your neighbor shoveling snow off his roof (picture taken by Andrew):

I am feeling incredibly blessed to have our first storm-free week in ages, which is why I've stayed up late enough to write this post.  :)