ShabbyBlogs - Must be Maddie

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall is here

It finally feels like Fall to me. There's a crisp coolness in the air and it's chilly in the morning and after the sun goes down. I'm happy to have jeans & boots in my closet and warm tea & coffee in my kitchen. I actually wore a coat into work today.
Did I mention the trees are ablaze with color?

Beautiful rusty reds, golden yellows, mixed in with hunter greens.

I just love watching the foliage change colors. My wish is that I were more surrounded by nature's beauty.

These 3 colored trees are at the light near our apartment complex. I think I'm going to play around with the pic in Lightroom and then blow it up and hang it in our apartment. I also got pics of each tree separately, and I feel like the grouping could be so pretty and autumn-y.

All pics are taken by me and have not been edited...yet.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rain on my parade

Wednesday was the big day. I was going to finally meet Ina! I picked up her latest How Easy Is That? cookbook, printed out directions, and I was pumped to meet one of my favorite TV personalities. Around 11:30am, a co-worker and I headed to Sur La Table for the book signing. This was error #1. When we finally got in line after searching high and low for a parking spot, the reality of this book signing came to light.

1.) The line was AROUND THE BLOCK. Why oh why hadn't I come earlier?
2.) The sky turned dark gray and it started raining buckets while we were in line. And if you live in NoVA, you would know we were under a tornado watch too.
3.) Unlike the old retired women and young chicks with babies attached to their hips, I had to eventually get back to work.

I debated whether to stick it out in the rain or head back to work like a good little lemming employee. Unfortunately Practical Peaches won and I went back to work cold & wet with crazy, frizzy hair and an unsigned cookbook.

It just wasn't meant to be. It sucks and I am disappointed but one day I will meet her. On the bright side, she does offer pre-signed cookbooks on her website. Maybe I should have ordered one of those to begin with...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Georgia on my mind

I'm going to sweet Georgia this weekend. Husband and I are flying to Hotlanta for his cousin's wedding. It will be a quick trip. We leave tomorrow about mid morning and will arrive in GA about an hour and a half or so before the ceremony. We'll celebrate at the wedding & reception and then leave Sunday in the early afternoon. We should be back in VA by mid afternoon so we'll have the evening to recuperate at home.

The weather is supposed to be nice at 75 degrees. I'm planning on wearing a black, cap sleeve dress that hits a little above my knee, and dressing it up with some accessories. I have 3 or 4 sets of heels I'm considering: peep toe giraffe print heels, orange leather peep toe heels, red peep toe heels, or pink sling back heels (of course I could wear black pumps but why go plain when I have more fun options!). All the heels are comfortable enough to wear for a night of dancing. Since I'm easily chilled, I was thinking about bringing Lauren Conrad's lace jacket, but I feel like a black jacket on a black dress is...a lot of black. Another option is an aqua/light blue pashmina. I'll figure out my outfit tonight.

Also-uh...I haven't been on a plane in like 8 years. I don't want to have any of my products thrown out because they're larger than .075oz. Luckily this will be such a short trip that if I have to go a night without my face wash...or hair gel...or contact solution, I'll live.

We're taking the camera with us so I'll have tons of pics to share when we get back. It'll be a fun weekend! I'll meet some relatives I haven't met yet; get to fly on a plane with my husband for the first time; we get to stay in a hotel - which is always fun. I'm looking forward to shaking my groove thang on the dance floor and attempting to get my sweetiepiehoneybunches to shake it with me.

TGIF! Have a lovely weekend friends!

My favorite cook is coming to town!

A friend just told me INA GARTEN, the Barefoot Contessa will be at Pentagon Row next Wednesday for a book signing!!! She is hands down my favorite cook. Whenever I don't feel like messing around and searching for a recipe, she is my go-to-girl. Her recipes are always delicious and easy enough for me to follow. She's got great ideas for easy decorating and entertaining. I mean have you seen this woman's kitchen? It's to die for.

Some favorite recipes: Her blueberry crumb cake is phenomenal. The sour cream makes the cake moist and gives it a little tang too. She does desserts well; the chocolate white chocolate chunk cookies are always a hit at social gatherings. Ina's wheatberry salad is healthy and tasty. I like to have it for breakfast but it's a good side dish in general.

She's not only a seasoned veteran when it comes to cooking & entertaining, she has an elegant sense of decorating too. The picture above is from this House Beautiful interview where she talks about the 'barn' that she had built on her East Hampton property.
I really like her decorating's natural and beautiful, not fussy, it looks functional and comfortable too. And it isn't too feminine, which I'm sure my husband is happy to hear.

Beautiful and natural.

Who wouldn't sleep well in a big fluffy bed in a clean, calm bedroom.

In 2009, House Beautiful rebuilt her beautiful kitchen of the year in NY. As you click through the pictures she gives kitchen tips! Keep it simple and get back to basics. She's a big proponent of starting with good quality ingredients. And she's all about function! I love it!

In a different House Beautiful article, Ina lists what every kitchen needs. I am happy to report that we have everything on her list (in some form or another)...I can thank Husband for that. (I love him and his culinary expertise.)

...Ina...if you're out there, I will happily be your b*tch if I can come over for dinner. I'll even do the dishes!!!

Back to reality...the book signing is on a Wednesday during lunch time, 12-2pm...I will be just a couple exits away...and I would 100% regret not going and meeting her. Omg I hope I remember to contain my urge to squeal, that could be embarrassing.

Book signing details:
Wednesday 27 October - 12:00-2:00pm
Sur La Table
Pentagon Row
1101 South Joyce St
Arlington, VA 22202

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Warm Bulgar Salad

Earlier this month, Husband and I planned out our week's dinner menu. One night we had hanger steak with warm bulgar salad. This was my first time making bulgar and I was a little skeptical. But it was easy and turned out well. The recipe I used is from Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010.

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 cups bulgar, rinsed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 large onion , chopped
2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 turnip, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium baking dish, mix the bulgar and cinnamon. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the boiling water. Season with salt & pepper. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes, until the water absorbed. Fluff the bulgar with a fork and cover to keep warm.

Get out a large saucepan and melt 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of evoo. Add in the onions and cook over moderate heat until barely softened, about 2 minutes. Then add in the carrots and turnips, season with salt & pepper, and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes...until they've softened. Add in 1/2 cup of chicken stock bring to a simmer (that sounds weird "bring to a simmer"). Cover and cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.

Next stir in the veggies & liquid into the bulgar and add in the lemon juice, parsley, mint. Drizzle in a little more evoo, toss it all together and serve!

We ate the bulgar warm but it was also good cold. It was light and clean tasting; I didn't feel bad eating it. It's a great side dish to any sort of meat and a good recipe to have in your arsenal. You can easily customize this with whatever veggies you want. I would love to try it with red onions, tomatoes and pine nuts. Or broccoli, raisins and slivered almonds. Yum!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tips from Husband

Even though I would classify Husband and I in the 'young marriage' stage in our lives, we've learned a lot about being in a relationship. I mean we've been together for 4 1/2 years now.

Tip from Husband: Make your wife's lunch the night before and leave cute notes for her to find first thing in the morning. It's sweet and it reflects your thoughtfulness and selflessness.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Happy Weekend

I had a happy weekend. This morning was lazy and earlier this afternoon I walked around an outdoor shopping center with MamaH and Margaret (sister in law). It was a beautiful day and it was nice walking around window shopping with the ladies. It's one of my favorite things. When I got back home, Husband and I went to Target to get some odds and ends for the abode. I love Target runs! And now it's dinner time and Husband is making fish cakes with asparagus & salad. I'm a very lucky lady.

Yesterday was a great day too! I got up early and straightened the apartment a.) because I couldn't sleep anymore and b.) my college roommate was coming over. KD is one of my favorite girlfriends. We're similar in size-a plus for college roommates, we have similar tastes in style-decor-music-fashion, she's smart & funny, and I just love catching up with her. So she and I baked Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are fantastic! The pumpkin flavor is subtle but it gives the cookie great moisture. After 10-12 minutes they were browned but still chewy, the chocolate was melted and warm. The oatmeal gave it good texture. These are seriously delicious cookies. I may even bring them to Thanksgiving this year.

Anyways we spent the afternoon baking and catching up with each other's lives. She helped me think of decorating ideas for areas I was having trouble tackling. It's good to get a fresh perspective.

Later in the afternoon, Huband & I went to his parent's house for Oktoberfest! They invite neighbors and family friends. There's German beer, sausages, sauerkraut, the best German potato salad I've ever/will ever have. They have two fire pits (front yard & back yard) to keep everyone toasty warm. It was an enjoyable time chatting, eating & drinking.

After we were full and happy, we headed home and watched Arrested Development, season 1. Margaret came over later and we zoned out watching the dysfunctional family and eating pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

It was a full day with time with my friends, family and Husband.

Friday night was fun too. We went to Bonefish for dinner. It was nice getting dressed up, drinking wine and flirting with each other. I think date nights are needed and rejuvenating. When we had our fill of good food we headed to our friend's house to hang out for the night.

I felt like it was a balanced weekend. I spent time with friends, family and my sweetheart. I feel grateful for everything in my life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Penne with Asparagus, Sage & Peas

So last weekend, Husband and I picked out recipes to cook for the week. On Tuesday I decided to make penne with asparagus, sage & peas from the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2010. This is a great cookbook. Right up front it lists healthy recipes and fast recipes - were they reading my mind? And most recipes are coded with one of four classifications: healthy, make ahead, vegetarian, and staff favorite. Ooo and they also suggest wines that would compliment each recipe!

Here's the recipe!

1/2 pound penne
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 pound thick asparagus, cut into 1" lengths
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups (10 oz) peas (we used canned - it was delish)
1/2 cup heavy cream (we used half & half - it's what we had)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt & pepper

-Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the penne and cook until al dente (which means "to the tooth!") and drain.
-Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the garlic & asparagus. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 min. Add the chicken stock and boil over high heat until reduced by half and the asparagus are tender, about 5 minutes.
-Add the peas and cream to the skillet and boil over high heat until the sauce has thickened, 3 minutes. (I tried not to boil it because I didn't want the half and half to curdle.) Stir in the penne and cook until heated through. (Did you know pasta absorbs sauces best when it's warm? Thank you Ina Garten.) Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, sage and the 1/2 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
-Serve immediately with more cheese on top!
Wine pairing: fresh, lively Soave.

So we only had spinach penne so the dish turned out very green. But picture creamy white penne sprinkled with green asparagus and little green peas and bits of herbs. Beautiful!

And because my husband has to have meat with dinner, I made pork chops with the cajun rub from this Tasty Kitchen Cajun Pork Chops recipe. It's a great rub, sweet, spicy, smoky. It would be good on chicken and beef too.

It was delicious!


Money is the bane of my existence.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ShopBop love

Amber from Amber's Notebook always has the cutest items from ShopBop. And today she is giving away a $100 gift certificate (click here to head over for a chance to win)!!

Do you know what I could do with 100 free dollars?! I could be practical and stock up on some basic tees & tanks. But what I really want to do is splurge on something fun.

Like this C&C cardigan
I've always wanted something from C&C

Or a cute black denim skirt
Citizens of Humanity Colling High Rise Skirt

This is an interesting dress, but I bet it's cute on.
Oonagh by Nanette Lepore
I've been looking for a stripped shirt, and this could be the one.
Nightcap Marine Cowl Neck Top

Love it.
Tony Cohen Dress

Head over to Amber's Notebook for a chance to win $100 to ShopBop.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Floral & Flowy

Lately I have been lusting over quite a few Lauren Conrad items from Kohls. Her items have cute details and they're trendy in a way I would feel comfortable rocking.

LC Lauren Conrad Henley Set
on sale for $22
A fun bohemian type of top
LC Floral Ruffle Cami
on sale for $18
I'm a sucker for ruffles
LC Lauren Conrad Floral Ruffle Camisole

LC Lace Jacket
on sale for $50
This could be a great way to work the lace trend into my wardrobe...
LC Chiffon-Trim Cardi
on sale for $27
I can easily see myself wearing this to work and for play.
I considered the areas in my wardrobe that needed an update. A little while back, I took the plunge and bought some leggings from Madewell and realized I could use more tops that covered my derriere a little more. So off to Kohls I went (it's not hard to convince me).

I tried on the LC Henley Set and it was cute. It comes with a tank that's longer and a little wider at the bottom to accommodate for a woman's hips, which I liked. The top layer is very light weight with elastic around the arms and there are pockets! Even though I really wanted the top I wasn't sure if it overpowered my petite stature.

Here I am rocking the LC Henley Set in green with my Madewell denim leggings (on sale for $40) and Frye boots. Please excuse the almost non-existent make-up and sloppy hair. I am still on the fence about the top, but that's because this is my first boho type top (welcome to 2010 Peaches!).

What do you think? Does the top work with my size? Keep it or return it? Maybe re-styling it a different way would work better?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Finally cooking

I made dinner every day this week. Yes, millions of people have been doing it for their entire lives, but let me explain. I've never been hugely into cooking. In high school my parents made dinner so there wasn't a major need for me to cook. In hindsight, I should have helped more with making dinner but I always had hours upon hours of homework. (Yeah I know, I'm a total dork for taking high school seriously...what can I say, I'm Asian.) I did bake in high school, but pretty much only chocolate chip cookies.

Anyways this past weekend, Husband and I picked recipes we wanted to try this week and then went grocery shopping for all the ingredients we would need. So there has been none of this run-to-the-grocery-store-for-3-items-business...which takes up time after work, takes away from my running, takes my money for gas, yada yada yada. I am loving this planned out approach to cooking. In contrast to what we were doing before when we were planning for dinners on a daily basis...what do you want to eat tonight? Can you pick up some chicken after work?

So now that I'm able to pick a recipe off our list and make it straight through from prep to plating, I'm really enjoying cooking. I would even say that I look forward to making dinner. My mom always said, "when the time comes, you'll learn to cook" and she was right. It helps that Husband held cooking jobs in high school and currently designs commercial kitchens so I have my own personal cooking guru. And he doesn't go half-ass on anything, especially the tools in our kitchen. Good knives and cookware make a huge difference when cooking, I don't care what other people think/say.

I'll share recipes & pictures soon but here's our menu from this week:
Monday - we ordered Papa Johns Pizza; Husband & I ended up on the golf course for nine holes so it was a little too late to make dinner.
Tuesday - penne with asparagus & peas, pork with Cajun rub
Wednesday - hanger steak with a warm bulgar salad that had onions, turnips & carrots
Thursday - TACOS! We heart tacos & taco salad

I'm not sure what's on the menu for tonight but I'm looking forward to it.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Straightening up

There were a few things that were bothering me...things weren't lining up, more than once I muttered "why can't you stay in the lines?!", there were inconsistencies, sizing issues. I put an end to it all and straightened it up, the blog that is.

I found a new pink background from but my content was outside of the background lines. It was driving me BONKERS. And the fonts were inconsistent which is another thing that gets under my skin. After a little snooping around in Blogger I was able to figure out how to adjust my layout to fit within the boarders of my ShabbyBlog background. I made sure my fonts were the same and even added a dash of color here and there.

I'm not a technically savvy person despite working at an IT company (oh the irony). So this is a small victory for me!! Take that Blogger.

Peaches - 1, Blogger - 0

Monday, October 4, 2010

A casual birthday dinner

Husband's step dad, John, was celebrating his birthday and invited us over for dinner. Even though it was unseasonably warm, I jumped on the chance to wear my brand new boots outside of my house! For the first few days after getting the boots, Northern VA was going through a small heat spell so I had only worn the boots inside the confines of my apartment. This is what I decided to wear for a casual birthday dinner.

Old American Eagle dress & Target tank
with my Gap denim jacket, because I'm always cold,
and of course my new shoes, Frye Jane 14 Boots

I can't wait to figure out what other dress/skirt options work with these boots.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Shoes

New Shoes by Paolo Nutini

"Woke up cold one Tuesday,
I'm looking tired and feeling quite sick,
I felt like there was something missing in my day to day life,
So I quickly opened the wardrobe,
Pulled out some jeans and a T-Shirt that seemed clean,
Topped it off with a pair of old shoes,
That were ripped around the seams,
And I thought these shoes just don't suit me.

Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I dont need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.

Woke up late one Thursday,
And I'm seeing stars as I'm rubbing my eyes,
And I felt like there were two days missing,
As I focused all the time,
And I made my way to the kitchen,
But I had to stop from the shock of what I found,
A room full of all my friends dancing round and round,
And I thought hello new shoes,
Byebye them blues.

Take me wondering through these streets,
Where bright lights and angels meet,
Stone to stone they take me on,
I'm walking to the break of dawn."

For the last couple months I've been saving up for these Frye 'Jane 14' Tall Boots. I was completely in love with their gorgeousness after seeing Ree's Pioneer Woman Post - "These Boots Were Made For...Everything. I realized I was missing a good casual pair of boots in my shoe collection and after reading so much praise for these boots I decided they were the one. I saved my cash for this purchase, a different approach for me. I enjoyed the process of saving up for them, deciding that my spare $40 would go towards these boots instead of some impulse buy. I had to exercise a little financial discipline but in the end it was worth every penny.

The boots are made well with very good quality leather. The color is rich and works well with black and brown. I know I will have them for years and years to come. Did I mention they are comfortable too? I haven't spent an entire day walking in them yet but I have been wearing them as often as I can. I love them more each time I wear them.