tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-88510019574498292442016-09-29T00:54:08.493-07:00Taste ChaserTasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.comBlogger95125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-3116220081917086052013-10-28T22:56:00.000-07:002013-10-28T22:56:09.230-07:00Salad + Jar = LoveI'm always on the lookout for healthy and affordable lunches that travel well and are easy to make in advance. Just because you have to eat at your desk on occasion doesn't mean your food has to be boring. Admittedly, my go-to sack lunch these days has been a pretty boring arrangement of hard boiled eggs, pretzels, string cheese and fruit or whatever was leftover from dinner the night before. It does the job but I don't find myself too excited about what awaits me in the fridge when noon rolls around. That all changed when I finally came around to the salad in a jar craze that's been sweeping <a href="http://www.pinterest.com/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a>.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AVdhASgXOOE/Um7jai0Yg4I/AAAAAAAACuM/dJQ5-qHLH7Y/s1600/Screen+shot+2013-10-28+at+3.19.59+PM.png" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="192" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-AVdhASgXOOE/Um7jai0Yg4I/AAAAAAAACuM/dJQ5-qHLH7Y/s400/Screen+shot+2013-10-28+at+3.19.59+PM.png" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Source: <a href="http://www.pinterest.com/" target="_blank">Pinterest</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />I'm no stranger to packing a salad for lunch, but I don't love eating soggy greens or having to carry a separate container for the dressing and praying it doesn't leak. The genius of the salad in a jar is that by stacking the ingredients in a strategic way, you can fit the dressing and salad in one container and keep everything crisp by confining the liquid dressing to the bottom of the jar. Salad in a jar will stay fresh for many days, so you can prepare everything on Sunday and have lunches saved for the rest of the week. Also, they're just so pretty to look at, aren't they?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-y8VePbYen2Q/Um7nDi8vPXI/AAAAAAAACuY/-7tCQTL50eM/s1600/IMG_4815.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-y8VePbYen2Q/Um7nDi8vPXI/AAAAAAAACuY/-7tCQTL50eM/s400/IMG_4815.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><br />I personally don't like eating the same thing five days a week, so I started out by only making two jars, inspired by this <a href="http://www.foxeslovelemons.com/2013/10/asian-noodle-salad-jar.html" target="_blank">Asian Noodle Salad recipe</a>. I've expressed my love for Asian salads <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/01/salad-love.html" target="_blank">before</a>, and I always have some buckwheat noodles on hand, so it was the perfect place to start my salad in a jar escapades.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1vYEv9wUhQc/Um7q9DLdZ6I/AAAAAAAACuk/aWKkcp4aGAk/s1600/IMG_4805.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1vYEv9wUhQc/Um7q9DLdZ6I/AAAAAAAACuk/aWKkcp4aGAk/s400/IMG_4805.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jawr-Q9eP_Y/Um7tjfCuK0I/AAAAAAAACuw/7n5KFYaEdwg/s1600/IMG_4807.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jawr-Q9eP_Y/Um7tjfCuK0I/AAAAAAAACuw/7n5KFYaEdwg/s400/IMG_4807.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Just chop everything, cook and cool the noodles and edamame and prepare the dressing.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Eydco860Cxw/Um7vo7D_crI/AAAAAAAACu8/i5BKSkrZU5I/s1600/IMG_4808.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Eydco860Cxw/Um7vo7D_crI/AAAAAAAACu8/i5BKSkrZU5I/s400/IMG_4808.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The dressing calls for sambal oelek, which is just chili sauce. I used jarred chili garlic sauce but sriracha would probably work too.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iIPJ9Wueyzg/Um7yWWZfV-I/AAAAAAAACvI/v7QyidI_40w/s1600/IMG_4810.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-iIPJ9Wueyzg/Um7yWWZfV-I/AAAAAAAACvI/v7QyidI_40w/s400/IMG_4810.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I also subbed toasted sesame oil for olive oil since it adds another element of great Asian flavor. When building a salad in a jar, you want to put the dressing on the bottom, followed by a sturdy ingredient that will benefit from soaking up the liquid and not compromise its texture. For example, I used two to three tablespoons of dressing topped with my buckwheat noodles then shredded carrot, halved mini heirloom tomatoes, edamame, red bell pepper and green onions.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QhXghJcNO8U/Um9GkmVBgdI/AAAAAAAACvY/Tk13jvGpD1U/s1600/IMG_4811.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-QhXghJcNO8U/Um9GkmVBgdI/AAAAAAAACvY/Tk13jvGpD1U/s400/IMG_4811.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Seal the jars and stash in the fridge for up to a week. At lunchtime, either shake the jar to combine ingredients and eat right from the jar or turn out into a bowl. With this thick dressing, I found it best to pour into a bowl and stir before eating. Now that's a lunch to look forward to!</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b>Asian Noodle Salad in a Jar</b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Adapted from <a href="http://www.foxeslovelemons.com/2013/10/asian-noodle-salad-jar.html" target="_blank">Foxes Love Lemons</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">(Makes 2 jars)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1 cup cooked buckwheat noodles</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/2 cup diced mini heirloom tomatoes</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/2 cup cooked and shelled edamame</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/2 cup shredded carrot</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">2 green onions, thinly sliced</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b>Dressing</b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">2 tbsp. peanut butter</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">4 tsp. chili garlic sauce</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">4 tsp. rice vinegar</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">2 tsp. tamari or soy sauce</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/4 cup sesame oil</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1 tsp. sesame seeds</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">If using frozen edamame, cook in a large pot of boiling water for a few minutes until tender. Remove edamame from pot with slotted spoon and cool. Use the same water to cook buckwheat noodles according to package instructions. Drain and cool the noodles, rinsing under cold water.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, chili garlic sauce, rice vinegar and tamari. Slowly drizzle in the sesame oil while whisking until emulsified. Stir in sesame seeds.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Add two to three tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of each jar. Top each with half the buckwheat noodles, shredded carrot, tomatoes, edamame, red bell pepper and green onion. Seal the jars with lids and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.&nbsp;</div>TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-71643206832875816132013-10-07T18:13:00.000-07:002013-10-07T18:51:40.325-07:00Pumpkin Season is HereEven though the temperatures are hovering in the 80's in LA, once the calendar hits October the pumpkin recipes start rolling out and I just can't resist jumping on the bandwagon. As you may recall, one of the items on my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30</a> list is to make bagels from scratch, so I thought, "Why not pumpkin bagels?"<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SBvH1udXTpA/UlMkJM2gbgI/AAAAAAAACrg/vVE_HWuY5Tk/s1600/photo-12.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-SBvH1udXTpA/UlMkJM2gbgI/AAAAAAAACrg/vVE_HWuY5Tk/s400/photo-12.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">This being my first homemade bagel experience, I did some research and decided to combine elements from this <a href="http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/09/homemade-pumpkin-spice-bagels-with-whipped-cinnamon-honey-butter-a-step-by-step-recipe/" target="_blank">pumpkin bagel recipe</a> and this <a href="http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/" target="_blank">New York style bagel recipe</a>. That way I'd get the flavor I was craving as well as the chewy texture I prefer.</div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nwxLvxqqyiY/UlMmRwRqq4I/AAAAAAAACr0/D5pG--PLh58/s1600/IMG_4759.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nwxLvxqqyiY/UlMmRwRqq4I/AAAAAAAACr0/D5pG--PLh58/s400/IMG_4759.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">First I placed the yeast in warm water with brown sugar and let it sit for 5 minutes without stirring. Then I stirred to dissolve the yeast and mixed in the canned pumpkin, 2 cups of bread flour, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. This produced a very sticky dough, which I turned out onto a floured cutting board to knead and add flour to until no longer sticky.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Iqjw18WsPhU/UlMo_ATRTBI/AAAAAAAACsA/i9EEFfCWf6A/s1600/IMG_4762.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Iqjw18WsPhU/UlMo_ATRTBI/AAAAAAAACsA/i9EEFfCWf6A/s400/IMG_4762.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Too sticky</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e10w0F_lEIg/UlMphXsv3bI/AAAAAAAACsI/qkqjO2WjWw8/s1600/IMG_4766.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-e10w0F_lEIg/UlMphXsv3bI/AAAAAAAACsI/qkqjO2WjWw8/s400/IMG_4766.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6L7X3GLLtPI/UlMp8GMVpgI/AAAAAAAACsQ/04pNOeA4o4A/s1600/IMG_4770.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6L7X3GLLtPI/UlMp8GMVpgI/AAAAAAAACsQ/04pNOeA4o4A/s400/IMG_4770.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">In the end I probably added an additional 2 or more cups and then rolled the dough into a ball and placed in an oiled bowl covered with a kitchen towel to let rise.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vRy-jfj0Wcg/UlMrkTJFGXI/AAAAAAAACsc/2MoR93ywhHM/s1600/IMG_4772.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vRy-jfj0Wcg/UlMrkTJFGXI/AAAAAAAACsc/2MoR93ywhHM/s400/IMG_4772.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">After an hour, I punched the dough down and let rest for another 10 minutes. Next, I divided the dough into portions and rolled them into small balls (I ended up with 9 somehow). I tried both recipe methods for forming the bagels and preferred the Sophisticated Gourmet's suggestion of pressing your finger through the center of each ball and then stretching the ring from there.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vt61jbyh_Ow/UlMt5bisWjI/AAAAAAAACso/u9hPZxhCQa0/s1600/IMG_4777.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vt61jbyh_Ow/UlMt5bisWjI/AAAAAAAACso/u9hPZxhCQa0/s400/IMG_4777.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MimjjxTLMJk/UlMuK_NzoPI/AAAAAAAACsw/q9NpBF9iVtc/s1600/IMG_4779.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-MimjjxTLMJk/UlMuK_NzoPI/AAAAAAAACsw/q9NpBF9iVtc/s400/IMG_4779.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I let the formed bagels rest for another 10 minutes on a cookie sheet covered with a towel while I put a big pot of water on to boil.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cQWnOlR0DZ0/UlNPREpH3XI/AAAAAAAACtA/sCCAJqXtF-o/s1600/IMG_4780.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cQWnOlR0DZ0/UlNPREpH3XI/AAAAAAAACtA/sCCAJqXtF-o/s400/IMG_4780.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">According to the New York method, you extend the boiling time to about 2 minutes for a chewier bagel, which is what I was going for.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LJq159Xl4bs/UlNQPYee6TI/AAAAAAAACtI/izNyyeILn9Q/s1600/IMG_4781.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LJq159Xl4bs/UlNQPYee6TI/AAAAAAAACtI/izNyyeILn9Q/s400/IMG_4781.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I noticed that the longer they boiled, the larger they got.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H2BRCpM63oI/UlNQlTAQ9OI/AAAAAAAACtQ/dya0JzT8oag/s1600/IMG_4782.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H2BRCpM63oI/UlNQlTAQ9OI/AAAAAAAACtQ/dya0JzT8oag/s400/IMG_4782.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">After transferring the bagels to a cookie sheet and baking for twenty minutes, my apartment smelled amazing and the bagels were beautifully browned. The pumpkin flavor was subtle and the texture was slightly crisp on the outside yet gloriously chewy on the inside. Now I just need to work on perfecting the shape of these babies...</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IKLEOlAP7c0/UlNRivmrJBI/AAAAAAAACtc/RceLj5m_u04/s1600/IMG_4787.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-IKLEOlAP7c0/UlNRivmrJBI/AAAAAAAACtc/RceLj5m_u04/s400/IMG_4787.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><b>New York Style Pumpkin Bagels</b></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Adapted from <a href="http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/09/homemade-pumpkin-spice-bagels-with-whipped-cinnamon-honey-butter-a-step-by-step-recipe/" target="_blank">Ambitious Kitchen</a> and <a href="http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/" target="_blank">The Sophisticated Gourmet</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1 cup warm water</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">2 tsp. active dry yeast</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/3 cup brown sugar</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">3 1/2 cups bread flour (divided, plus more for kneading)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1/2 teaspoon salt</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">2 tsp. cinnamon</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Place warm water in a large mixing bowl and add yeast and sugar. Do not stir. Let mixture sit for five minutes before stirring to dissolve. Add pumpkin, 2 cups of bread flour, salt and spices. Stir to combine. A sticky dough will begin to form.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Transfer to a floured surface and continue adding flour a half cup at a time and kneading dough until smooth (about another cup and a half or two cups and 8-10 minutes of kneading). Roll dough into a large ball and place in a bowl coated with oil. Cover with a towel and allow to sit in a warm spot to rise for one hour or until dough doubles in size.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">After one hour, punch the dough down and allow to rest for another 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces and roll each portion into a small ball. Press your finger through the center of each ball and stretch a ring to the desired size. Place shaped bagels on an oiled cookie sheet and cover with a towel.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and set a large pot of water to boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and using a skimmer, lower bagels into hot water in batches. Let them sit for 2 minutes and then flip them over to boil for another 2 minutes. Once boiled, transfer bagels back to the oiled cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Cool cooked bagels on a wire rack. Slice one of those babies in half, smear on some cream cheese, and enjoy the freshest bagel you'll ever eat.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HH1sPERZAJc/UlNY-mv_NNI/AAAAAAAACts/newvkxLMSO0/s1600/IMG_4791.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HH1sPERZAJc/UlNY-mv_NNI/AAAAAAAACts/newvkxLMSO0/s400/IMG_4791.JPG" width="400" /></a></div>TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-68537701177409377922013-09-30T16:35:00.001-07:002013-09-30T16:35:26.834-07:0030 Before 30 UpdateIt's been too long since I've blogged about my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30</a> progress. The deadline of my 30th birthday is drawing uncomfortably near, so it's definitely time to bang these out. Let's take a look at the tasks I've completed recently.<br /><br />#11 Mail a handwritten letter/card to a loved one out of the blue<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RyfaKQv83jE/UknsyHnb9XI/AAAAAAAACqQ/YC0BafRMqs0/s1600/IMG_1915.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RyfaKQv83jE/UknsyHnb9XI/AAAAAAAACqQ/YC0BafRMqs0/s400/IMG_1915.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>A few months ago I was in a nostalgic mood and went through a box of old cards, photos and letters that I've been collecting since high school. I found that a huge chunk of those cards were from my friend Kim, who used to send me written correspondence almost every month when I was in college. Kim worked at <a href="http://www.hallmark.com/shop?mc=T_S_G_ED_GC_BRAND&amp;gclid=CP-WyO6I9LkCFQ1xQgodansAPA" target="_blank">Hallmark</a>&nbsp;back then, so this might explain her fondness for greeting cards. It reminded me how nice it was to get a letter in the mail every now and then so I decided she was the perfect person to reach out to via snail mail. I've already received a reply from Kim and I'm putting my response to her out in the mail today. So far I'm loving this new pen pal thing!<br /><br />#15 Start saving for a house<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SBUqEn4f93I/Ukn9aYKHN7I/AAAAAAAACqg/rQIAYFOtm-E/s1600/ramsay.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SBUqEn4f93I/Ukn9aYKHN7I/AAAAAAAACqg/rQIAYFOtm-E/s400/ramsay.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />Early in the year my dear friend Jane sent me her copy of <a href="http://www.daveramsey.com/home/" target="_blank">Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover</a>. She and her husband had been using Dave's tips to budget for their family of three and recommended his methods for paying off debt and saving up for the future. After reading the book I was motivated to take care of the small amount of debt we had and focus on a plan for setting money aside for a house in the future. With no debt, we've been able to fulfill an 'emergency fund' as well as start a house fund.<br /><br />Some of Dave's methods are a bit extreme and not completely realistic for us right now, but the book has provided the motivation we needed and made us realize that even if we aren't looking to purchase a home in the next year or two, it's never too soon to start saving.<br /><br />#29 Make our guest room more accommodating<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D2fnVFXGMhg/UkoB7JWuJSI/AAAAAAAACqs/TcKjrTii4dQ/s1600/IMG_1563+15-49-43.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D2fnVFXGMhg/UkoB7JWuJSI/AAAAAAAACqs/TcKjrTii4dQ/s400/IMG_1563+15-49-43.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />So even though we've lived in our apartment for over two years, we never really got around to doing much with our guest room. Out of sight, out of mind, right? I once heard that the best way to determine what your guest room may be lacking is to spend the night in it. In doing so, I found that a few things like curtains, a bedside table, alarm clock and space in the closet to hang clothes would make guests feel more at home.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0jN-EhkabNM/UkoHY5g_8RI/AAAAAAAACrE/EzyS0C8F00c/s1600/IMG_4755.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0jN-EhkabNM/UkoHY5g_8RI/AAAAAAAACrE/EzyS0C8F00c/s400/IMG_4755.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">So far I've been able to work on all of those things but the closet space :) There is currently a large wedding dress that is taking up a considerable amount of space in the guest room closet, but that will be taken care of in a matter of months so I consider this task complete!</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PDOHMoIC_wc/UkoIzvkWMcI/AAAAAAAACrQ/dh4WH359XjA/s1600/IMG_4756.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-PDOHMoIC_wc/UkoIzvkWMcI/AAAAAAAACrQ/dh4WH359XjA/s400/IMG_4756.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UbETBUPuyZ4/UkoHGloyQfI/AAAAAAAACq8/vWIVCOmSUzQ/s1600/IMG_4757.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-UbETBUPuyZ4/UkoHGloyQfI/AAAAAAAACq8/vWIVCOmSUzQ/s400/IMG_4757.JPG" style="cursor: move;" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Who wants to come stay with us?<br /><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-55786894865168372182013-09-03T16:57:00.002-07:002013-09-04T14:17:46.006-07:00Snapshots Sometimes you have a few too many photos and too few words. So here's a snapshot of last weekend, when we set out for an epic road trip from LA to Monterey for the <a href="http://www.firstcityfestival.com/" target="_blank">First City Festival</a>. It was a magical trip full of many of my favorite things - live music, stunning scenery and of course, good eats. This is the true story of two couples, one car, 650 miles, thirty bands, several cups of coffee and too many laughs to count.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8e5RTL6rtpk/UiZpe6PS-2I/AAAAAAAACno/c441SYAwluo/s1600/photo9.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8e5RTL6rtpk/UiZpe6PS-2I/AAAAAAAACno/c441SYAwluo/s400/photo9.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Gxo8rvymBLc/UiZpuLilgYI/AAAAAAAACnw/5kUStqvCQmA/s1600/P1030183.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Gxo8rvymBLc/UiZpuLilgYI/AAAAAAAACnw/5kUStqvCQmA/s400/P1030183.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-r-WNXq_Ps0A/UiZqKK6-M4I/AAAAAAAACn4/Ip-2xwUc5Q0/s1600/photo8.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-r-WNXq_Ps0A/UiZqKK6-M4I/AAAAAAAACn4/Ip-2xwUc5Q0/s400/photo8.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could survive a two-day music festival at 29 years old. The gorgeous Monterey weather was certainly a huge help.&nbsp; After the fest, we set out for 17-Mile Drive and then down the Pacific Coast Highway back to Los Angeles, enjoying all the beautiful views along the way.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s0EzzBWO1nQ/UiZqbxq8RsI/AAAAAAAACn8/4sd6QvYifaE/s1600/photo4.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-s0EzzBWO1nQ/UiZqbxq8RsI/AAAAAAAACn8/4sd6QvYifaE/s400/photo4.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qjURjzPNw8s/UiZrZTpBGHI/AAAAAAAACoI/iTEybdd24FA/s1600/photo3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qjURjzPNw8s/UiZrZTpBGHI/AAAAAAAACoI/iTEybdd24FA/s400/photo3.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Is there a more beautiful drive in the country?&nbsp; </div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tdx2w70E_Uk/UiZr4Xj1hXI/AAAAAAAACok/3ILIQEMRZMw/s1600/P1030243.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tdx2w70E_Uk/UiZr4Xj1hXI/AAAAAAAACok/3ILIQEMRZMw/s400/P1030243.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Z1pXhAurk3c/UiZsD1TqOOI/AAAAAAAACos/RQR2wLS5QZQ/s1600/P1030260.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Z1pXhAurk3c/UiZsD1TqOOI/AAAAAAAACos/RQR2wLS5QZQ/s400/P1030260.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JJQlJNcFMog/UiZ0vh5tXjI/AAAAAAAACpg/ZrIDPmER2cQ/s1600/P1030205.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JJQlJNcFMog/UiZ0vh5tXjI/AAAAAAAACpg/ZrIDPmER2cQ/s400/P1030205.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8HC-5ohhTOs/UiZsr6WhRaI/AAAAAAAACo8/lC7MWl16K78/s1600/P1030276.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8HC-5ohhTOs/UiZsr6WhRaI/AAAAAAAACo8/lC7MWl16K78/s400/P1030276.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hGYHyYZqobI/UiZs8GIkfzI/AAAAAAAACpM/cMvSlhbgByQ/s1600/P1030284.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hGYHyYZqobI/UiZs8GIkfzI/AAAAAAAACpM/cMvSlhbgByQ/s400/P1030284.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">One of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip was the chance to eat at <a href="http://www.bigsurbakery.com/" target="_blank">Big Sur Bakery</a>. This spot is very popular in the foodie world and I somehow missed it the last time I drove up the PCH to Big Sur. This time we enjoyed sandwiches on fresh baked bread and some of the best lattes and mochas we've tasted.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VNPBllQkpr0/UiZ0_P8JMOI/AAAAAAAACpo/zsfpFkzAsKc/s1600/P1030264.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VNPBllQkpr0/UiZ0_P8JMOI/AAAAAAAACpo/zsfpFkzAsKc/s400/P1030264.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XpqYfYec1Xs/UiZ1EKdlVKI/AAAAAAAACpw/s2Ss-2ikDXU/s1600/P1030266.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XpqYfYec1Xs/UiZ1EKdlVKI/AAAAAAAACpw/s2Ss-2ikDXU/s400/P1030266.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r3jE21wQfBM/UiZ1JVftClI/AAAAAAAACp4/f9Si3V8OMhY/s1600/P1030271.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-r3jE21wQfBM/UiZ1JVftClI/AAAAAAAACp4/f9Si3V8OMhY/s400/P1030271.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />There also might have been an almond croissant that had me exclaiming, &nbsp;"This croissant is the best decision I've ever made in my life." Much to my husband's dismay... It now tortures me that there's a four and a half hour drive between me and that perfect pastry. #foodieproblemsTasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-45544524148233659922013-08-06T12:16:00.003-07:002013-08-06T13:45:51.959-07:00Best of: SandwichesEarlier this summer I introduced the idea of a "Best of" series where I'd list my favorite LA foods by category. Each category will likely have between three and five items but there's really no rulebook on my end. So let's get started!<br /><br />Sandwiches are the best, aren't they? They can be hot or cold, savory or sweet, light and healthy or monstrous gut busters. There are many reasons why sandwiches are <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joey_Tribbiani" target="_blank">Joey Tribbiani's</a> favorite food and why I love them dearly as well. So if you're looking for the top sandwiches in Los Angeles, consider my 'Best of' list below.<br /><br />#1 - The Godmother at <a href="http://www.baycitiesitaliandeli.com/" target="_blank">Bay Cities Italian Deli</a>, Santa Monica<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ubm_hTY1_Cw/UcnVp1jJRaI/AAAAAAAACic/H53RpizH7IU/s1600/photo.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ubm_hTY1_Cw/UcnVp1jJRaI/AAAAAAAACic/H53RpizH7IU/s400/photo.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />The Godmother is a monster sandwich with Genoa Salami, Mortadella, capicola, ham, prosciutto and provolone tucked inside an Italian roll, baked daily at Bay Cities. Order "the works" and all of this comes with mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, Italian dressing and hot pepper salad. The combination of fresh bread, fresh sliced meats and cheese, and the tangy vinegar from the dressing and pepper salad make it instantly addicting. The deli counter is always packed, but it's worth the wait. If you're anywhere near Santa Monica, I suggest you stop by Bay Cities and grab a sammy to take to the beach. You'll want to leave yourself some time to browse the aisles too, because Bay Cities is also a specialty food store. Don't forget to grab an extra loaf of amazing bread on your way out. You'll make use of it at home if you can resist eating it on the car ride back.<br /><br />Please note that in the photo above I opted for smoked turkey with "the works". While I love the Godmother and it was the first sandwich I had at Bay Cities, I have since switched to a leaner turkey sandwich that is just as tasty and addicting.<br /><br />#2 - Joan's Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich at <a href="http://joansonthird.com/index.htm" target="_blank">Joan's on Third</a>, Los Angeles<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7V3X_USRsNM/UfbwLRzJNhI/AAAAAAAACmY/QcdfEcjRCn4/s1600/joan%27s.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7V3X_USRsNM/UfbwLRzJNhI/AAAAAAAACmY/QcdfEcjRCn4/s400/joan%27s.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />Joan's on Third is a magical place. Yes it's always packed and a little chaotic, but that's to be expected of the foodie equivalent to Disneyland. Cases upon cases of meats, cheeses and prepared foods surround you, along with a marketplace full of snacks or ingredients to take home. And let's not forget the bakery counter! I'd go just for a latte and pastry or cupcake. But meals at Joan's on Third are a special treat because they have such a great selection of salads and sandwiches, including Joan's Turkey Meatloaf Sandwich. Imagine the lightest meatloaf, not dense or dry in the least, sandwiched between fluffy bread with vinegary dressed greens and chili aioli. Warm and full of flavor but not heavy in the least, I could gobble down this entire sandwich and still entertain a hike after.<br /><br />#3 - Short Rib Sandwich at <a href="http://joansonthird.com/index.htm" target="_blank">Joan's on Third</a>, Los Angeles<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YDBpum1W0Vg/UfmWOWNbqjI/AAAAAAAACnE/7l9PaybwN1g/s1600/joan%27s2(2).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-YDBpum1W0Vg/UfmWOWNbqjI/AAAAAAAACnE/7l9PaybwN1g/s400/joan%27s2(2).jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Joan's on Third takes another win in the sandwich category; And deciding between which is better is like choosing your favorite child or dog. (Just kidding, Chula wins every time!) While the turkey meatloaf is light and somewhat healthy, the Short Rib is buttery-meaty-cheesy decadence. I've not yet been able to eat more than one half of this sandwich, but that half is always pure ecstasy. The crunchy bread protects the moist short rib hiding inside while melted jack cheese, arugula and red onions bring the savoriness up to another level. This is the type of sandwich that leaves grease on your hands and a smile on your face.<br /><br />#4 - Rosemary Chicken Panini at <a href="http://www.artisancheesegallery.com/" target="_blank">Artisan Cheese Gallery</a>, Studio City<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2gk9JxaMHyA/UfmUB3-pL0I/AAAAAAAACm0/UDuJZ1ZXODc/s1600/sammy2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2gk9JxaMHyA/UfmUB3-pL0I/AAAAAAAACm0/UDuJZ1ZXODc/s400/sammy2.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />The panini is perhaps one of the world's simplest and best culinary creations. What could be bad about toasty bread and melty cheese? The Rosemary Chicken panini at Artisan Cheese Gallery is filled to the brim with grilled rosemary chicken, provolone cheese, pancetta, smoked paprika aioli and arugula. The peppery arugula with perhaps a hint of lemon juice cuts the salty pancetta and combines perfectly with the smoke from the chicken and aioli. Served with sweet and spicy pickles, this sandwich is toasty perfection. <br /><br />#5 - Breakfast Panini at <a href="http://aromacoffeeandtea.com/" target="_blank">Aroma Coffee &amp; Tea</a>, Studio City<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b3vnHmTg3jo/UgFKix1I7fI/AAAAAAAACnU/HyFOYkuZjI8/s1600/aroma.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="298" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-b3vnHmTg3jo/UgFKix1I7fI/AAAAAAAACnU/HyFOYkuZjI8/s400/aroma.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(<a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/aroma-coffee-and-tea-studio-city?select=KSek3Q_cXZreRnmqCy4E_Q#epxGOAWQPf3TVc2ij3FmeQ" target="_blank">Source</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Here I will mourn the death of a truly spectacular sandwich at Aroma Coffee &amp; Tea. I love this cozy outdoor cafe in Studio City and their selection of spectacular coffee drinks and baked goods. The quaint setting and the delicious food have had me coming back consistently over the six years that I've lived in LA. My go-to breakfast item was the breakfast panini with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato and avocado on rosemary focaccia bread. On my last visit I noticed that this item is no longer on the menu and seems to have been replaced by a similar version without avocado. The new Aroma Breakfast Sandwich may not even be served on delicious grilled focaccia. I haven't had the heart to try it's replacement yet. Please, just allow a moment of silence. <br /><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-2856691578988477732013-07-26T16:11:00.000-07:002013-07-26T16:21:46.989-07:00Summer VacationI apologize for the silence around here while I've been enjoying some much needed summer vacation. Even though I've been taking it easy for the most part, I haven't forgotten about my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30</a> to-dos. One such item on the list involved my vacation - A trip to Michigan to visit Justin's family lake house. We spent a gloriously relaxing 4th of July with Justin's family, full of fishing, boating, fireworks and delicious meals. Justin and I flew to Chicago first, where his brother and wife have just purchased a beautiful house. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MnGCNbo0YuM/UfLh2gNvsaI/AAAAAAAACjA/jRUkA3Lw0RA/s1600/IMG_4574.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MnGCNbo0YuM/UfLh2gNvsaI/AAAAAAAACjA/jRUkA3Lw0RA/s400/IMG_4574.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />The last time I was in Chicago was for <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/07/wedding-season.html" target="_blank">their wedding</a> over a year ago, and I somehow never had a famous Chicago hot dog. Our hosts took us straight to <a href="http://www.hotdougs.com/" target="_blank">Hot Doug's</a>, the "encased meat emporium," to remedy that situation. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-0v9hMrEnM6U/UfLk2c6feCI/AAAAAAAACjQ/BS_-8txEQxQ/s400/IMG_4572.JPG" width="266" />&nbsp; <img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7ICXLVhrooE/UfLk93Ae5xI/AAAAAAAACjY/5aiqupUtKvA/s400/IMG_4573.JPG" width="266" /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Hot Doug's makes all kinds of creative sausages, but I felt like I should try the classic while in the Windy City. I got a Chicago-style to share and The Norm Crosby, a garlic, beef and pork dog. The Norm Crosby was delish! Even with all the accoutrements, the Chicago-style just couldn't hold a candle to the full flavors of that juicy, garlicky dog. Also, I learned that it's considered criminal to put ketchup on your hot dog in Chicago. You just don't do it. My friend Jane would be very pleased with that policy ;)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bVGFfBUqUQU/UfLmhhRWEqI/AAAAAAAACjo/MR8WrWLJqtg/s1600/IMG_4576.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bVGFfBUqUQU/UfLmhhRWEqI/AAAAAAAACjo/MR8WrWLJqtg/s400/IMG_4576.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div>Next stop was <a href="http://www.gooseisland.com/" target="_blank">Goose Island Brewery</a> to sample some local beers, which is one of my favorite things to do when exploring a city. A few Goose Island beers make an appearance in Los Angeles bars and restaurants so we've been wanting to visit the brewery for some time now. They had a really wide selection and we each sampled various flights in addition to a summer special, the Cherry-Mint Wit. Refreshing!<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Zh57Ob3w3Ig/UfLnm0LAHAI/AAAAAAAACj0/aRwsCExrP_Q/s1600/IMG_4577.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Zh57Ob3w3Ig/UfLnm0LAHAI/AAAAAAAACj0/aRwsCExrP_Q/s400/IMG_4577.JPG" width="400" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uJpozZ9FkE4/UfLnsSolfGI/AAAAAAAACj8/qvH3tfhHvvQ/s1600/IMG_4578.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uJpozZ9FkE4/UfLnsSolfGI/AAAAAAAACj8/qvH3tfhHvvQ/s400/IMG_4578.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div>Later in the trip we enjoyed a really lovely meal at <a href="http://www.maudesliquorbar.com/" target="_blank">Maude's Liquor Bar</a>, where I had the BEST vodka smash of my life. Prior to this cocktail experience, my favorite adult beverage might have been the blackberry smash at <a href="http://www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/boa" target="_blank">BOA Steakhouse</a>. Maude's smash was just so simple and uncomplicated, full of fresh citrus and mint and not overly sweet. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. It's a problem, really...<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XMzZt7gGXwQ/UfLvuu8KyLI/AAAAAAAACkM/2-UhphviXu4/s1600/smash.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XMzZt7gGXwQ/UfLvuu8KyLI/AAAAAAAACkM/2-UhphviXu4/s400/smash.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The dimly-lit, speakeasy vibe at Maude's nicely complimented the French menu, from which the boys shared a large platter of oysters and we all devoured ricotta gnocchi, a massive cassoulet and crispy pomme frites.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wGS4oeAQQtE/UfLw2jWYHfI/AAAAAAAACkY/QHPKD9Q0a94/s1600/IMG_4590.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-wGS4oeAQQtE/UfLw2jWYHfI/AAAAAAAACkY/QHPKD9Q0a94/s400/IMG_4590.JPG" width="400" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2mfd6TiLggY/UfLw7nPuL4I/AAAAAAAACkg/rTkb4plUUyA/s1600/IMG_4591.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2mfd6TiLggY/UfLw7nPuL4I/AAAAAAAACkg/rTkb4plUUyA/s400/IMG_4591.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zuzwrl5qptU/UfLxBdUQvEI/AAAAAAAACko/a9v3Ju67ouQ/s1600/IMG_4589.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zuzwrl5qptU/UfLxBdUQvEI/AAAAAAAACko/a9v3Ju67ouQ/s400/IMG_4589.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div>From Chicago, we drove to Michigan for a few more days of food and fun.<br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Bmh3o-o8NVU/UfLxg201jxI/AAAAAAAACkw/PAHUPwoVbzQ/s1600/IMG_4616.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Bmh3o-o8NVU/UfLxg201jxI/AAAAAAAACkw/PAHUPwoVbzQ/s400/IMG_4616.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div>Since the day I met Justin, he's talked non-stop about his parent's cottage on the lake. I think it might be his favorite place in the whole world. I've always looked forward to eventually seeing this place with my own eyes, so it made an appearance on my 30 Before 30 list to make certain that we'd get out there sooner rather than later. <br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bOyQxo4py9Y/UfLzXTmXLEI/AAAAAAAAClA/h4FImMp2ydU/s1600/photo9.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bOyQxo4py9Y/UfLzXTmXLEI/AAAAAAAAClA/h4FImMp2ydU/s400/photo9.JPG" width="400" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-A2YFvrS8Nds/UfLzn-S26EI/AAAAAAAAClM/8RE-Ts_92BA/s1600/IMG_4658.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-A2YFvrS8Nds/UfLzn-S26EI/AAAAAAAAClM/8RE-Ts_92BA/s400/IMG_4658.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lPfnAZxRccM/UfLzxkxTiTI/AAAAAAAAClQ/i9cdxan7gF8/s1600/IMG_4668.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lPfnAZxRccM/UfLzxkxTiTI/AAAAAAAAClQ/i9cdxan7gF8/s400/IMG_4668.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">As you can see, the cottage is primed for relaxation and once you're there, it's really hard to leave. Jobs, deadlines, bills, etc. just cease to exist for a magical few days while you're disconnected from the rest of the world.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HJAf9xJx9JM/UfL2y9XIW9I/AAAAAAAAClg/_GwFIPtPtGI/s1600/IMG_4661.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HJAf9xJx9JM/UfL2y9XIW9I/AAAAAAAAClg/_GwFIPtPtGI/s400/IMG_4661.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SvE_-Hvg0cc/UfL3gq6m5cI/AAAAAAAAClo/K2U70GdBdQ8/s1600/fish.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SvE_-Hvg0cc/UfL3gq6m5cI/AAAAAAAAClo/K2U70GdBdQ8/s400/fish.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">While we didn't eat any of the fish we spent the days catching (thank God), we experimented with smoking a brisket on the grill as demonstrated by <a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2013/06/texas-style-smoked-brisket.html" target="_blank">Bon Appetit</a>. Jessica made cottage cheese and dill bread from scratch to accompany the meat, and we all had a truly memorable lakeside meal.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JMMnKCDJY1E/UfL6JwmsNNI/AAAAAAAACl4/qrgaolWJhxw/s1600/IMG_4633.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JMMnKCDJY1E/UfL6JwmsNNI/AAAAAAAACl4/qrgaolWJhxw/s400/IMG_4633.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rZBUioRhEgs/UfL6QPBMM6I/AAAAAAAACmA/DQw1bcnTLWs/s1600/IMG_4637.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-rZBUioRhEgs/UfL6QPBMM6I/AAAAAAAACmA/DQw1bcnTLWs/s400/IMG_4637.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TSvtfmXMQQU/UfL6bpCykEI/AAAAAAAACmI/A44eSh3N3ig/s1600/IMG_4636.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TSvtfmXMQQU/UfL6bpCykEI/AAAAAAAACmI/A44eSh3N3ig/s400/IMG_4636.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Vacation is the best. It's been hard adjusting back to a work schedule and less indulgent meals since we returned, but we have a few more fun things on the horizon. I will not let go of summer just yet!</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"></div>TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-5844632516710554842013-06-21T16:16:00.002-07:002013-08-13T10:51:13.284-07:00Father's Day SurprisePssst - I was in Austin this weekend! It was a surprise for my parents that my sister, brother and aunt helped me coordinate and execute to perfection. It went something like this: (Warning - It's loud)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><object width="320" height="266" class="BLOG_video_class" id="BLOG_video-63e5033aad8d77" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="movie" value="https://www.youtube.com/get_player"><param name="bgcolor" value="#FFFFFF"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"><param name="flashvars" value="flvurl=https://redirector.googlevideo.com/videoplayback?id%3D0063e5033aad8d77%26itag%3D5%26source%3Dblogger%26requiressl%3Dyes%26app%3Dblogger%26cmo%3Dsecure_transport%3Dyes%26cmo%3Dsensitive_content%3Dyes%26ip%3D0.0.0.0%26ipbits%3D0%26expire%3D1493037423%26sparams%3Dip,ipbits,expire,id,itag,source,requiressl%26signature%3D81320EDC6DAB4C02D7A63CF53381AB9E228E7432.24B5BB482DCB376D2EC41D21880432A564A78C1A%26key%3Dck2&amp;iurl=http://video.google.com/ThumbnailServer2?app%3Dblogger%26contentid%3D0063e5033aad8d77%26offsetms%3D5000%26itag%3Dw160%26sigh%3Dfu1XVCax2o_w6CUMGL31G_Kk8u0&amp;autoplay=0&amp;ps=blogger"><embed src="https://www.youtube.com/get_player" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="266" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" flashvars="flvurl=https://redirector.googlevideo.com/videoplayback?id%3D0063e5033aad8d77%26itag%3D5%26source%3Dblogger%26requiressl%3Dyes%26app%3Dblogger%26cmo%3Dsecure_transport%3Dyes%26cmo%3Dsensitive_content%3Dyes%26ip%3D0.0.0.0%26ipbits%3D0%26expire%3D1493037423%26sparams%3Dip,ipbits,expire,id,itag,source,requiressl%26signature%3D81320EDC6DAB4C02D7A63CF53381AB9E228E7432.24B5BB482DCB376D2EC41D21880432A564A78C1A%26key%3Dck2&iurl=http://video.google.com/ThumbnailServer2?app%3Dblogger%26contentid%3D0063e5033aad8d77%26offsetms%3D5000%26itag%3Dw160%26sigh%3Dfu1XVCax2o_w6CUMGL31G_Kk8u0&autoplay=0&ps=blogger" allowFullScreen="true" /></object></div><br />As you can see, my parents were completely caught by surprise and luckily, very happy about it. There were times over the last few weeks when I thought they suspected I would be coming home, but I'm so glad they were actually clueless. It made for a much more epic moment and memory that I'm so thrilled we caught on video. Thanks Jen!<br /><br />The surprise idea has been marinating for a few months since it's an item on my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a>. I've always made a habit out of visiting Austin at least once or twice a year (I can't stay away!) but this year I didn't have any trips to Texas planned and no openings for when we might take another trip there. I knew I wanted to at least take a weekend to get out there this summer, so I started to think "well what if they had no clue?" I got my sister and aunt to come in to town under the guise of Father's Day and upcoming family birthday celebrations and my brother already lives in Austin. Jennifer picked me up from the airport and brought me to the house where I secretly waited in the garage for her to go inside and get my mom and dad in the kitchen. Then she snuck a call to my phone which was my signal to come in. I crept through the garage door with a bottle of wine in hand and waltzed in saying, "Who wants some wine?!" What happened next was captured in the above video and was the start to a great weekend on the lake with my family.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-auWV9LkWpbc/UcTXk65JhWI/AAAAAAAAChY/q0ayER_tzK4/s1600/photo.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-auWV9LkWpbc/UcTXk65JhWI/AAAAAAAAChY/q0ayER_tzK4/s400/photo.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />We celebrated Father's Day with brunch at home and a spin on the jet skis, followed up with lunch at <a href="http://www.hopdoddy.com/" target="_blank">Hopdoddy</a>, probably my favorite burger spot in Austin.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-azAUK8K2opA/UcTY84S-n5I/AAAAAAAACho/ABf7J6y5v4I/s1600/photo5.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-azAUK8K2opA/UcTY84S-n5I/AAAAAAAACho/ABf7J6y5v4I/s400/photo5.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I first visited Hopdoddy a mere <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2011/09/texas-eats.html" target="_blank">two years ago</a> and have been back about five times now. We didn't have Hopdoddy when I lived in Austin so I'm making up for lost time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fi3-9g-O37o/UcTZh0hWWvI/AAAAAAAAChw/FocT-va79gA/s1600/photo3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fi3-9g-O37o/UcTZh0hWWvI/AAAAAAAAChw/FocT-va79gA/s400/photo3.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I love their black angus beef burgers, but lately I've been addicted to the Continental Club, which is a turkey burger with apple-smoked bacon, arugula, provolone and pesto. Not everyone can do a good turkey burger, as they often turn out dry and devoid of flavor. But this one is perfection every time. Especially with some fries and two types of queso on the side (chile con queso and green chili queso).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Id258Ex2yGk/UcTaqcVJjKI/AAAAAAAACiA/7hlA-ysecn8/s1600/photo2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Id258Ex2yGk/UcTaqcVJjKI/AAAAAAAACiA/7hlA-ysecn8/s400/photo2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Dad's day success!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Cvqu0W8p238/UcTbcOkdjMI/AAAAAAAACiI/EzhqhRWXxSc/s1600/photo4.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Cvqu0W8p238/UcTbcOkdjMI/AAAAAAAACiI/EzhqhRWXxSc/s400/photo4.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />Later in the evening my parents had friends over to watch game five of the NBA Finals while grilling up some fajitas. Go Spurs! One of these friends was asking me for a list of my favorite places to eat in LA and it got me thinking. Why don't I have a list? Introducing the "Best of" series! I'll pop in now and again with my "Best of" lists in my favorite categories like burgers, beers, sandwiches, etc. The locations of my favorite eats are spread across the globe, from jerk chicken shacks in Jamaica, gnocchi in Italy and cheesy Tex-Mex in my home state. But the absolute best meals are those shared with loved ones. I'm so glad I made it home to share some delicious meals with my family this summer and look forward to some epic family meals with Justin's side of the family in a few weeks.TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-1722611652939373682013-06-10T16:12:00.001-07:002013-06-10T16:12:38.234-07:0030 Before 30 UpdateIt's about time for another 30 Before 30 update! By the way, I'm really loving having this list to keep me accountable for doing things I've either put off or never done. It's made for an exciting year so far, with even more adventures in the works. A few of my friends are now making lists for when their 29th birthdays hit, which I highly recommend.<br /><br />Thanks to the list, I've rediscovered how fun ski trips are. Before this year, the last time I went skiing was on Spring Break of 2006. I've been fortunate enough to ski some of the nicest mountains in Colorado, but I had somehow neglected to visit the ski areas right in my own backyard here in California. Since I've lived here for about six years, it was beyond time to make the short trip to the mountains. Back in February (I know, way to stay current on the updates) we visited <a href="http://www.snow-valley.com/" target="_blank">Snow Valley</a> because it was the closest mountain to us and we got a deal on lift tickets online to fulfill item #17 on my list - <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">Go snow skiing</a>. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ivyziQ-YKA8/UbYo6uh32wI/AAAAAAAACgM/btZdTXxplSY/s1600/P1030033.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ivyziQ-YKA8/UbYo6uh32wI/AAAAAAAACgM/btZdTXxplSY/s400/P1030033.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />It was pretty crazy leaving 75 degree temperatures in LA and arriving to snow within two hours time. I was worried I wouldn't remember how to ski, but it came back pretty quickly and I managed to get by without any falls. Not too hard a feat when you stick to green and blue runs :)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s7QBCDjZRhU/UbYqrLwOS3I/AAAAAAAACgc/xDlxecZ1100/s1600/P1030037.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s7QBCDjZRhU/UbYqrLwOS3I/AAAAAAAACgc/xDlxecZ1100/s400/P1030037.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I actually night skied for the first time and loved it. The lift ticket rates were cheaper if you started after 3 p.m. and only the last two hours or so were in the dark with lights on the runs. It did get especially chilly when the sun went down but the slopes were far less crowded and we got plenty of runs in before that happened. When the cold was too much to bare, it was hot chocolate time. Aka, my favorite time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tq6M7Hgzy3g/UbYscZjeAcI/AAAAAAAACgs/lOYR6ioimlk/s1600/P1030042.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Tq6M7Hgzy3g/UbYscZjeAcI/AAAAAAAACgs/lOYR6ioimlk/s400/P1030042.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Another one of my favorite times is happy hour. When I lived in Texas and didn't battle traffic every evening to get home, happy hour was almost a weekly occurrence. These days if I'm not on the road the second I finish my work, traffic piles up and my commute gets exponentially longer. It's harder to make happy hour happen when you're fighting the traffic patterns in LA, but since it was on my list I planned to meet a friend for a drink during the week and I remembered why I must do this more often!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-B5676Xh7fp8/UbZaDeLlYxI/AAAAAAAACg8/AKc7ZXhPip4/s1600/hh2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-B5676Xh7fp8/UbZaDeLlYxI/AAAAAAAACg8/AKc7ZXhPip4/s400/hh2.JPG" width="400" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><a href="http://www.pinktaco.com/" target="_blank">Pink Taco</a>'s happy hour runs until 7 p.m. so you don't have to rush to get your fill of $5 margaritas and free flowing chips and salsa. They also have discounted appetizers like guacamole and sweet corn tamales. Yum! I think I've found my favorite HH spot. Now who wants to join me?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LP6CpG26c3s/UbZbDbuK0HI/AAAAAAAAChI/MJ96Gw-w-U4/s1600/hh1.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LP6CpG26c3s/UbZbDbuK0HI/AAAAAAAAChI/MJ96Gw-w-U4/s400/hh1.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Knocked <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">#22</a> off my list and moving right along. This month I reached the half-way mark and I now have only six months to complete the rest of my list. Eeeeek! Time to rally. TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-68530545803594172492013-05-23T22:48:00.000-07:002013-05-24T08:36:24.524-07:00The Science of PiePerhaps this is telling of how much of a foodie nerd I am, but I consider chefs and bakers of amazing foods to be celebrities. I once saw <a href="http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef/bio/spike-mendelsohn" target="_blank">Spike</a> from <a href="http://www.bravotv.com/top-chef" target="_blank">Top Chef</a> at an Urban Outfitters in Austin and while I was giggling like a school girl, I was too afraid to go say anything to him. Then when I found myself in the same sandwich shop as Iron Chef <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/jose-garces-bio/bio/index.html" target="_blank">Jose Garces</a> while in Chicago for a wedding, Justin had to force me to go ask him for a photo. I'm not too comfortable approaching celebrities, as I generally feel they just want their privacy. My bestie will be quick to point out to you that I once (and only once) had a celebrity freak out when I spotted <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000704/" target="_blank">Elijah Wood</a> in Austin during <a href="http://sxsw.com/" target="_blank">SXSW</a> and started yelling his name until he came over to take a picture with me. Hey, I was really into <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120737/" target="_blank">Lord of the Rings</a>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-E8HOFeQYntM/UZ78oBwikCI/AAAAAAAACfI/a3GiWOE-71w/s1600/ElijahCrop.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="396" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-E8HOFeQYntM/UZ78oBwikCI/AAAAAAAACfI/a3GiWOE-71w/s400/ElijahCrop.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />But since then I have maintained my composure when in the presence of people that I consider to be famous. Which is good because I was in the presence of two such women recently when I attended <a href="http://www.scienceandfood.org/" target="_blank">Science and Food</a> presents The Science of Pie lecture with Chef Christina Tosi of <a href="http://milkbarstore.com/" target="_blank">Momofuku Milk Bar</a> and Chef Zoe Nathan of <a href="http://www.rusticcanyonwinebar.com/restaurants.html" target="_blank">Rustic Canyon</a>, Huckleberry, Milo &amp; Olive and Sweet Rose Creamery.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TY3uJ6E5jp0/UZ7-A4Zt46I/AAAAAAAACfY/FJihlJPUMT8/s1600/science4.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-TY3uJ6E5jp0/UZ7-A4Zt46I/AAAAAAAACfY/FJihlJPUMT8/s400/science4.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LtnRsl-Cf1g/UZ6j5porWyI/AAAAAAAACdw/TX9z59hw_eQ/s1600/science4.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>Before the lecture, attendees had the chance to judge apple pies baked by the students in the Science and Food course at UCLA. First of all, why the HECK didn't my school have something like this? These lucky kids get guest lecturers like Chef Michael Voltaggio! While I wept about never having the chance to take such a rad class, the students explained that their assignment was to experiment with the elements of apple pie to accomplish the best possible tasting version. Students experimented with substituting the traditional fat used in pie crust (butter) for bacon grease or avocado oil. One group got all molecular gastronomy and formed pure apple juice into spheres dusted with pie crust crumbs, so that when you put it all together in your mouth the taste was identical to apple pie. My favorite pie used peanut butter as a fat and hit it out of the park in Flavor Town.&nbsp; <br /><br />After the judging, Chefs Tosi and Nathan shared their approaches to baking during the lecture. It was interesting to hear how different their styles and ideals for producing the best baked goods are. Even with almost opposite approaches, they both put out stellar products in my opinion. Tosi's thinking is that everyone already has their own favorite version of the classics like chocolate chip cookies and apple pie, so she doesn't want to compete. Her recipes push confections to the limit to give people something they've never experienced before, as exampled by her compost cookies (which they were handing out for free) that include everything from cereal to pretzels to coffee grounds. Chef Nathan takes a much simpler approach. Her opinion is that the reason the classics have been around for so long is because that's what people want, and it's what they crave again and again. She bakes traditionally and with very few ingredients.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ATEDUXRcQOI/UZ6kKTOTjOI/AAAAAAAACd4/iYQK87Q4urU/s1600/science3.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ATEDUXRcQOI/UZ6kKTOTjOI/AAAAAAAACd4/iYQK87Q4urU/s400/science3.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I liked that they both emphasized the importance of salt in sweet items. So many cakes and cookies out there are just sugar bombs. You really need that healthy pinch of salt to enhance the other flavors in the item. I also loved when Chef Tosi said to "question everything". Even though my personal cooking style is much more on the simple side, like Nathan's, Tosi called us to question why we use certain ingredients in dishes and implement certain techniques. Is there another way it can be done better? Never stop asking yourself "why"?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uTb0QhCorNI/UZ7PlSs2OtI/AAAAAAAACe4/vQrCsYxUwjo/s1600/science2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uTb0QhCorNI/UZ7PlSs2OtI/AAAAAAAACe4/vQrCsYxUwjo/s400/science2.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>Although not overly scientific, I really enjoyed the lecture and the opportunity to relish in a crowd of people as nerdy about food as I am. Even infamous Los Angeles Times restaurant critic <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/columnists/jonathan-gold/" target="_blank">Jonathan Gold</a> was there. If the title of this post deceived you into thinking there would be a pie recipe included, I apologize. I'm more of <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2011/06/baking-with-chula.html" target="_blank">galette</a> girl myself.TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-3380878135989099382013-05-20T21:50:00.000-07:002013-05-20T22:17:49.792-07:00Thoughts on JuicingAbout a month before I got married my cousin Morgan was telling me about a wager between her and her mom to see who could lose the most weight by my wedding day. She said her healthy secret weapon was juicing and it intrigued me enough to add a juicer to my wedding registry. I chose the <a href="http://www.crateandbarrel.com/breville-compact-juice-extractor/s393878?a=1552&amp;device=c&amp;network=g&amp;matchtype=" target="_blank">Breville Compact Juice Extractor</a> because I didn't want a bulky machine taking up too much space in my kitchen and it got great reviews for the price.<br /><br />The juicer arrived in the middle of wedding madness and went unused until New Years Eve. When I finally pulled it out and gave it a whirl, I was pleasantly surprised by the juicy results. Beyond the potential weight-loss benefits of replacing meals with fresh juice and the incredible health benefits of adding fruits and veggies to your diet, this stuff just tastes great! I have accomplished my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 goal </a><span style="font-family: inherit;"><a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">#10</a> to use my new juicer</span> and have had a lot of fun experimenting with combinations since then.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ag1hVBUWxMs/UWDIme-ADgI/AAAAAAAACY4/IvHNmTMYa_8/s1600/IMG_4438.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ag1hVBUWxMs/UWDIme-ADgI/AAAAAAAACY4/IvHNmTMYa_8/s400/IMG_4438.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />My first juice was a concoction of kale, carrots, apples and beet. I purchased the organic fruit from the farmers market, so everything was in season and local. Juicing organic produce isn't the cheapest option, as you'll go through quite a bit, but if you're going to put raw fruit and vegetables in your body, you want them to be clean and organically grown.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GslubKWHoWI/UZrxSOqHxkI/AAAAAAAACcI/e84DDqn1a80/s1600/IMG_4446.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GslubKWHoWI/UZrxSOqHxkI/AAAAAAAACcI/e84DDqn1a80/s400/IMG_4446.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><br />The items went in the juicer one by one, instantly demolished to nothing but pulp and liquid. The end result was a rainbow colored brew that looked and smelled questionable. I gave it a stir, strained the froth and poured a big glass for myself and one for Justin. After a quick "cheers" and shrug of the shoulders, it went down the hatch.<br /><br />And...it was good! Our first juice tasted like health in a glass, but not in the "I'm eating grass" sort of way. Both Justin and I agreed that the juice tasted much better than it looked, and when you know that everything you put in your glass is fresh and healthy, you feel a lot better about drinking the liquid murk.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rz6wVk-yPqA/UZrz1cbT_VI/AAAAAAAACcg/NQxU6pSjFhg/s1600/IMG_4448.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rz6wVk-yPqA/UZrz1cbT_VI/AAAAAAAACcg/NQxU6pSjFhg/s400/IMG_4448.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cna56Z4gSvY/UZr0WEPxenI/AAAAAAAACco/GBtf-VD-IkA/s1600/IMG_4465.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-cna56Z4gSvY/UZr0WEPxenI/AAAAAAAACco/GBtf-VD-IkA/s400/IMG_4465.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Below is a list of some staple juice ingredients that have become my go-tos.<br /><br />cucumbers<br />kale<br />red chard<br />beets<br />pineapple<br />spinach<br />romaine<br />carrots<br />lemons<br />grapefruit<br />mandarins<br />oranges<br />apples<br />ginger<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0Zh8_lIDbqU/UZr1syUEl1I/AAAAAAAACc4/Uc-MdkT5xgc/s1600/IMG_4466.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0Zh8_lIDbqU/UZr1syUEl1I/AAAAAAAACc4/Uc-MdkT5xgc/s400/IMG_4466.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z-WBrW5Zb8M/UZr18vhrRII/AAAAAAAACdA/ZbR3rRvwrec/s1600/IMG_4476.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z-WBrW5Zb8M/UZr18vhrRII/AAAAAAAACdA/ZbR3rRvwrec/s400/IMG_4476.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Have you ever heard the expression, "Eat the rainbow?" The concept is basically that foods that are naturally vibrant and brightly colored are good for you. One of my favorite things about juicing is the crazy kaleidoscope of colors that it creates.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z4NhWJj4wHk/UZr5mplTa1I/AAAAAAAACdQ/tZmfPcMnc4g/s1600/IMG_4486.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Z4NhWJj4wHk/UZr5mplTa1I/AAAAAAAACdQ/tZmfPcMnc4g/s400/IMG_4486.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Even kids could get onboard drinking something so colorful and sweet, which makes juicing a great way to sneak fruits and veggies into your child's diet.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">If you're curious about juicing and its health benefits, I highly recommend watching the documentary "<a href="http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/" target="_blank">Fat Sick and Nearly Dead</a>." Already juicing? Please feel free to share your favorite juice recipes here. I'm excited to continue the exploration and see what else I can get Justin to drink.</div><br /><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-17813721409657681902013-04-15T13:35:00.004-07:002013-04-15T13:55:16.211-07:00JauntingI just love a good jaunt, don't you? Over Easter weekend I traveled up to San Francisco to visit my college roommate and spend a few glorious days indulging myself in one of my favorite foodie destinations. Even though it was a quick excursion, I managed to brunch every day of the trip. Yes, brunch is most definitely a verb.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n_4JrQ12i64/UWc0Tj21JoI/AAAAAAAACZI/nJ3YQIQ_Z3o/s1600/SF1.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n_4JrQ12i64/UWc0Tj21JoI/AAAAAAAACZI/nJ3YQIQ_Z3o/s400/SF1.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yKgVNKmfUlQ/UWc0XEqfvkI/AAAAAAAACZQ/l54Bqc5vdnc/s1600/SF8.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yKgVNKmfUlQ/UWc0XEqfvkI/AAAAAAAACZQ/l54Bqc5vdnc/s400/SF8.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Brunch is one of my favorite things because if I'm enjoying brunch it's either the weekend or I'm on vacation. When you work full-time, brunching during the week just isn't an option. Though it should be, dang it.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dQ9ycvUjsA0/UWc7GksenpI/AAAAAAAACZg/ZDNhQVMVwRM/s1600/SF27.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dQ9ycvUjsA0/UWc7GksenpI/AAAAAAAACZg/ZDNhQVMVwRM/s400/SF27.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Our brunch destinations included <a href="http://www.thegrovesf.com/" target="_blank">The Grove</a>, <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/freds-coffee-shop-sausalito" target="_blank">Fred's Place</a> and <a href="http://www.sweetmaplesf.com/Sweet_Maple/Sweet_Maple_the_Best_Breakfast_and_Lunch_San_Francisco_California_Bay_Area.html" target="_blank">Sweet Maple</a>. On previous trips to NorCal, Fred's Place in Sausalito won my vote for top breakfast with their fluffy omelets, crispy hash browns and killer fried french toast. You heard me. Deep fried french toast glory. But on this trip, Shannon introduced me to Sweet Maple's Millionaires Bacon, which is like the bacon the royal family would eat, I imagine. It's thick, glazed with some brown sugar, and spiced ever so slightly. It's perfection is what it is. I had an asparagus omelet filled with said bacon, parmesan and topped with rich hollandaise. It was so flavorful but somehow not at all too heavy, which is important because a girl needs to save room for wine.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0l8nVgz-6Y4/UWdN8q5cPOI/AAAAAAAACaA/o-Nl9DimgW8/s1600/SF10.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0l8nVgz-6Y4/UWdN8q5cPOI/AAAAAAAACaA/o-Nl9DimgW8/s400/SF10.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G7jmMJnn7IU/UWdOA_1k3nI/AAAAAAAACaI/6h_MXFR46J0/s1600/SF14.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-G7jmMJnn7IU/UWdOA_1k3nI/AAAAAAAACaI/6h_MXFR46J0/s400/SF14.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOU_j8OpZtI/UWdOFWT2z2I/AAAAAAAACaQ/rUlBqPILUtc/s1600/SF24.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-dOU_j8OpZtI/UWdOFWT2z2I/AAAAAAAACaQ/rUlBqPILUtc/s400/SF24.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-n2wPf7Kmwr4/UWdIBU8W_rI/AAAAAAAACZw/57n-n89lX7I/s1600/SF3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>We had our own TCU reunion going on up in Sonoma and visited <a href="http://www.korbel.com/ageverification.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx" target="_blank">Korbel</a>, <a href="http://www.aristawinery.com/" target="_blank">Arista</a>, <a href="http://www.mazzocco.com/" target="_blank">Mazzocco</a>, <a href="http://www.hkgwines.com/" target="_blank">Hop Kiln</a> and <a href="http://www.franciscoppolawinery.com/" target="_blank">Francis Ford Coppola</a> between spurts of rain. My partners in the wine country have been my friends for nearly 11 years. We've all changed so much since we first met our freshman year of college, yet we maintain a close friendship despite our differences and always manage to make epic memories when we're together.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QU9WUwztnLk/UWxhPNDi8yI/AAAAAAAACag/0M8vNXFrLg8/s1600/SF11.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QU9WUwztnLk/UWxhPNDi8yI/AAAAAAAACag/0M8vNXFrLg8/s400/SF11.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lmOAGtklsog/UWxhTcdi6EI/AAAAAAAACao/Hc7AKOs0GIE/s1600/SF13.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lmOAGtklsog/UWxhTcdi6EI/AAAAAAAACao/Hc7AKOs0GIE/s400/SF13.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Celebrating new bottles of wine)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Even when greeted with a downpour of rain on Easter, we took our party to the Ferry Building and sampled chocolate, cured meats and cheeses and of course, more wine. It was the most perfect weekend catching up with friends over good food and wine and exactly what I needed before my big work event.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mQBv_U5MSxo/UWxh-YnK9II/AAAAAAAACaw/QjA73L6Ke3g/s1600/SF26.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mQBv_U5MSxo/UWxh-YnK9II/AAAAAAAACaw/QjA73L6Ke3g/s400/SF26.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Until next time, San Francisco...<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-suVpYvHadMs/UWxjyj3XRBI/AAAAAAAACa4/NwSQSa-vKBE/s1600/SF25.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-suVpYvHadMs/UWxjyj3XRBI/AAAAAAAACa4/NwSQSa-vKBE/s400/SF25.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-38858456105785724262013-03-28T14:04:00.004-07:002013-03-28T14:04:33.774-07:0030 Before 30 Update - MarchFebruary and March were actually pretty busy months for checking things off my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a>. I just haven't blogged about it yet! Let's take a look back at what I've accomplished over the last two months, shall we?<br /><br />#6 Watch <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068646/" target="_blank">The Godfather</a><br /><br />I always felt like I was on the outside of some big inside joke whenever people would reference The Godfather. I couldn't even escape Godfather talk in my beloved rom-coms like <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128853/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">You've Got Mail</a>. Wanting to feel included and know what the heck everyone was talking about, I finally set aside three hours (yes, THREE hours) to see what all the buzz was for. The conclusion - Glad I saw it once, but I'm just not cut out for three hours of cinema. Sorry Coppola, I will not be needing to see that one again.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tCk07MhMbig/UVStT4DAx6I/AAAAAAAACYA/ED5MtRiZtj0/s1600/photo5.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-tCk07MhMbig/UVStT4DAx6I/AAAAAAAACYA/ED5MtRiZtj0/s400/photo5.JPG" width="380" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Chula and me before 3 hours of organized crime)</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eSVKMhRy-bY/UVStJny08kI/AAAAAAAACX4/VL6iJRo7USg/s1600/photo5.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>#14 Start a family tradition<br /><br />I had been pondering on this one for a while and was inspired by my bestie's childhood tradition of her mom waking her up with a doughnut and chocolate milk on her birthday. I remember waking up on my most recent birthday and feeling like it was just any other day. Since we weren't celebrating until after work, most of the day felt like business as usual until then. I thought waking up to a special breakfast on your birthday would be the perfect way to set the tone for making the day more fun. We recently celebrated Justin's 29th birthday by starting the family tradition of birthday breakfast. I woke up early and made him banana and peanut butter waffles with bacon so we could spend some quality time together before work celebrating his birth.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3K0CiKCdKyY/UVStlKPnf4I/AAAAAAAACYI/_l8vezcQ2cc/s1600/photo6.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3K0CiKCdKyY/UVStlKPnf4I/AAAAAAAACYI/_l8vezcQ2cc/s400/photo6.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Au6kMeVJxFA/UVStp_PvSWI/AAAAAAAACYQ/5pOUFUNoPQM/s1600/photo4.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Au6kMeVJxFA/UVStp_PvSWI/AAAAAAAACYQ/5pOUFUNoPQM/s400/photo4.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />When it's my birthday, he'll do the same for me (though I advised him that purchasing a chocolate croissant and frothy latte for me would be equally as amazing if he doesn't want to cook). And if we have children in the future, they'll get special birthday breakfasts too.<br /><br />#27 Try a quesa-rito at Chipotle<br /><br />Is it weird that I vividly remember my first <a href="http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/Default.aspx?type=default" target="_blank">Chipotle</a> experience? Those burritos hold a special place in my heart and they got me through college when my only other option was greasy dorm food. I can't remember who told me about the secret menu item that is the <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/what-is-the-chipotle-quesarito" target="_blank">quesa-rito</a>, but I wanted in. I actually learned of it quite a few months ago, but was too afraid to place my order, terrified of being rejected by the burrito maker claiming there was no such thing. So imagine my delight when I finally uttered the words, "I'd like a quesarito, please," and there was no hesitation at all by the Chipotle employee. They quickly sprung into action putting cheese on a big burrito tortilla, folding it and then placing it on the press to melt. Then they opened that quesadilla up, revealing all its inner melty cheese glory, and put my toppings inside before rolling it into a burrito.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vZWtXCbOi3A/UVSt7dxNJhI/AAAAAAAACYY/TDBTu-ln67w/s1600/photo3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vZWtXCbOi3A/UVSt7dxNJhI/AAAAAAAACYY/TDBTu-ln67w/s400/photo3.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />The end result wasn't entirely different from their already stellar burritos, but the extra time on the tortilla warmer lent a nice toasty flavor to the burrito, which just took everything up a notch. Chipotle is my happy place.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ENZ_qv9l25w/UVSusTn5DqI/AAAAAAAACYg/9DUvM8oT_Dg/s1600/photo2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ENZ_qv9l25w/UVSusTn5DqI/AAAAAAAACYg/9DUvM8oT_Dg/s400/photo2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />To cancel out the burritos (right?) I've also been juicing for quite a few months now, which is on my list, but I want to dedicate a whole post to that one. And I went skiing twice! Expect upcoming posts on both of these things soon.TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-40314431006225841772013-03-13T14:38:00.000-07:002013-03-13T14:38:25.674-07:00Wedding Recap - CeremonyContinued from wedding recaps <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/wedding-recap-welcome-reception.html" target="_blank">one</a> and <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/02/wedding-recap-wedding-morning.html" target="_blank">two</a>.<br /><br />Considering that ceremonies are usually my least favorite part of a wedding (mostly because there's no cake), I was surprised that our ceremony turned out to be my most cherished part of the big day.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vQNhimH09ls/UTog8zaOVSI/AAAAAAAACWo/4eK4o1u0CMU/s1600/004131-R1-004.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="263" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vQNhimH09ls/UTog8zaOVSI/AAAAAAAACWo/4eK4o1u0CMU/s400/004131-R1-004.jpg" width="400" /></a><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YvAczW9s48Q/UTolpaTRtGI/AAAAAAAACWw/V0ZH9KQfHvE/s1600/004133-R1-024.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"></a></div><br />The sun was just beginning to set over the Santa Ynez Valley and the weather was absolute perfection. From where I stood at the "altar", I had a beautiful view of the rolling hills and vineyards below and most importantly, my calm and collected soon-to-be husband. Normally Justin is a very nervous fellow. Being the center of attention is not his thing, so I fully anticipated that he would be shaking and sweating his way through our ceremony. I was quite shocked at how calm he remained for the entire proceedings, which brought me great peace in return.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wPXhXPN8ji0/UUDtZ51MXsI/AAAAAAAACXY/R4EJP2tuPlw/s1600/DSC_9036.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wPXhXPN8ji0/UUDtZ51MXsI/AAAAAAAACXY/R4EJP2tuPlw/s400/DSC_9036.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vQNhimH09ls/UTog8zaOVSI/AAAAAAAACWo/4eK4o1u0CMU/s1600/004131-R1-004.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a> </div>We incorporated some Hispanic wedding traditions into our ceremony and selected vows that were meaningful to us so the whole thing was very personal and unique. For the lasso tradition (in which the couple is joined by a double rosary) we used the lasso my parents used in their wedding more than 30 years ago. We also exchanged the arras (coins to symbolize prosperity) that were given to my grandparents for their wedding over 50 years ago! On top of all that, my aunt got ordained to perform the ceremony. It meant a lot to us that every single person standing with us was someone we love dearly.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YvAczW9s48Q/UTolpaTRtGI/AAAAAAAACWw/V0ZH9KQfHvE/s1600/004133-R1-024.jpg" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="263" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YvAczW9s48Q/UTolpaTRtGI/AAAAAAAACWw/V0ZH9KQfHvE/s400/004133-R1-024.jpg" width="400" /></a> </div><br />My aunt performed her duties like a pro even though ours was the first wedding she officiated. The only slip-up of the ceremony was actually my fault, when I kept giving Justin the wrong hand to put the ring on and everyone had a little chuckle about it. When the ceremony concluded and we shared our first kiss as husband and wife, I got a rush of adrenaline while looking around and once again taking in the beauty that surrounded us. This time, as a married couple. We had done it and our friends and family were with us in beautiful California with a stunning sunset and the most beautiful weather we could have asked for.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q6dU6X3tn4c/UUDsn_mnsnI/AAAAAAAACXQ/ESaD58NbLyI/s1600/DSC_9123_1.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-q6dU6X3tn4c/UUDsn_mnsnI/AAAAAAAACXQ/ESaD58NbLyI/s400/DSC_9123_1.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><br />It felt incredible and it felt flawless. When I think back to my favorite part of our wedding, it wasn't the reception and it wasn't even the wedding cake (though omg yummy). Most surprising to myself, it was the sincere and intimate nature of our ceremony. Though I'm fully expecting your favorite part of our wedding to be the s'mores station. More on that in the coming wedding recaps!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8KQmDaXdsHM/UUDxVjVcJ9I/AAAAAAAACXo/YliV9PJzvc8/s1600/004131-R1-021.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-8KQmDaXdsHM/UUDxVjVcJ9I/AAAAAAAACXo/YliV9PJzvc8/s400/004131-R1-021.jpg" width="263" /></a></div><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-42936761870363431982013-02-26T15:28:00.001-08:002013-02-26T15:33:00.385-08:00Beach BonfireYou guys, I have been knocking out items on my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a> this month! I just wanted to pop in and update you on one of my latest accomplishments - #25 Attend a beach bonfire.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rimxRulyyqE/USv0-2A1NsI/AAAAAAAACRE/SH4MlFFRoZE/s1600/P1030015.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rimxRulyyqE/USv0-2A1NsI/AAAAAAAACRE/SH4MlFFRoZE/s400/P1030015.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Ever since the days of watching <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laguna_Beach:_The_Real_Orange_County" target="_blank">Laguna Beach</a> in college, I coveted the lives' of those beautiful teenagers growing up in California. Surfing every weekend, shorts in December, but especially the beach bonfires. Sure we had bonfires in high school, but they consisted of driving 40 miles out to some one's ranch in the middle of the night and getting your car stuck in the mud or ruining your alignment bumping over boulders. Just when you were certain you were lost you'd reach the clearing where 50 high schoolers were gathered around a huge pile of flaming branches. The drunken adolescents would throw their beer cans in the fire to evaporate into toxic fumes so any dreams of roasting marshmallows were killed. And there were certainly no bathrooms in those deep woods. It was fun in its own "roughing it" kind of way, but I was jealous of the sophisticated beach bonfire.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y9gzUBO_LCo/USv2IMlLPhI/AAAAAAAACRQ/0sg2md8ed1w/s1600/P1030019.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Y9gzUBO_LCo/USv2IMlLPhI/AAAAAAAACRQ/0sg2md8ed1w/s400/P1030019.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Over President's Day weekend I got a group of friends together at Dockweiler Beach in Playa Del Rey, which is one of the few beaches in our area with fire pits. It was a far cry from my high school experiences, with convenient parking right next to the beach and designated fire pits. We brought our own fire wood, chairs, blankets, snacks and beverages and felt like we were camping on the beach. The weather was perfect and the ocean was to our backs as we toasted marshmallows for s'mores and cooked hot dogs over the fire.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NW5QaAaZyZ4/USz6Mb4xDtI/AAAAAAAACT4/-UvU84tlNnk/s1600/fire1.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-NW5QaAaZyZ4/USz6Mb4xDtI/AAAAAAAACT4/-UvU84tlNnk/s400/fire1.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BioYPebeQqk/US07aH0FclI/AAAAAAAACVM/g_-_LlHatTw/s1600/P1030028.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="240" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BioYPebeQqk/US07aH0FclI/AAAAAAAACVM/g_-_LlHatTw/s320/P1030028.JPG" width="320" /></a></div><br />Just like camping, except you get to go home and sleep in your own bed! Now, why did I wait so long to do this?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WqDpgL2cjCg/US07wzqKHWI/AAAAAAAACVU/z6WDN9BFmpM/s1600/P1030025.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WqDpgL2cjCg/US07wzqKHWI/AAAAAAAACVU/z6WDN9BFmpM/s400/P1030025.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />For the record, Laguna Beach did not adequately prepare me for sitting in traffic to the beach and paying $8 for parking. Thus is California living!TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-40535630358432920012013-02-14T09:59:00.000-08:002013-02-14T10:03:23.007-08:00Wedding Recap - Wedding MorningLet's continue the wedding recapping, shall we? <br /><br />As I mentioned in my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/wedding-recap-welcome-reception.html" target="_blank">last post</a>, I was up pretty late the night before the wedding drinking wine and eating Taco Bell with my lady friends. You know, the usual. You'd think all of that would put me in a pretty good position to sleep soundly into the late morning on my wedding day, right? Wrong. I was awake at approximately 6 a.m. and miraculously, so were the bridesmaids I was sharing my room with. There must be something about a wedding that gives you an extra boost of energy.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ufiK66WrBJU/URvnlcvAGhI/AAAAAAAACJ8/SBwUQdcaGk8/s1600/wedding6.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-ufiK66WrBJU/URvnlcvAGhI/AAAAAAAACJ8/SBwUQdcaGk8/s400/wedding6.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-dEE7tjQXkuQ/URvnZAAdTAI/AAAAAAAACJ0/fX-EWBDt9c8/s1600/wedding6.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>As soon as I opened my eyes my bridesmaid and college roomie, Amanda, was clapping and singing a little jingle that went <i>What day is to-day? To-day is Becky's wedding day! Hey! </i>It was the perfect way to wake up and get me in the mood to face the biggest day of my life. Unfortunately our neighbors at the hotel did not appreciate our angelic singing voices and I also started the day with a phone call from the front desk asking us to keep it down. Given that it was so early, we had a few hours to kill before restaurants would be open for breakfast. We passed the time stuffing my mini cupcake <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/pinhole-press-product-review.html" target="_blank">favor boxes</a> and steaming my dress.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UdQY05yFNag/URvbeAYBLlI/AAAAAAAACIQ/Pk2tIyjdyT4/s1600/w9.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-UdQY05yFNag/URvbeAYBLlI/AAAAAAAACIQ/Pk2tIyjdyT4/s400/w9.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FFctDGcRX0o/URvbog0ddfI/AAAAAAAACIc/olSzuBBF1sQ/s1600/w7.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FFctDGcRX0o/URvbog0ddfI/AAAAAAAACIc/olSzuBBF1sQ/s400/w7.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />Later we snuck to breakfast at nearby <a href="http://www.paulaspancakehouse.com/" target="_blank">Paula's Pancake House</a>, keeping Justin updated via text so we wouldn't accidentally run into each other out in Solvang. Paula's is THE spot for breakfast in Solvang so there was already an hour-long wait. My trusty bridesmaids sprung into action to make sure the hostess knew it was my wedding day and we got a table in about 20 minutes. Hey, you only get to use that card once if you're lucky so I have no shame about it. No shame.<br /><br />Pretty immediately after breakfast I had to head to the salon for hair and makeup. One of my biggest regrets about the wedding day is not paying the extra money to have a stylist on-site. The salon was two miles away from my hotel and I couldn't justify paying more for her to drive two measly miles to do my makeup in my hotel room. But in my head I had always pictured getting ready on my wedding day in a room full of my bridesmaids, mom and mother-in-law sipping champagne and getting pumped up to walk down the aisle. Instead I spent two to three hours in an empty salon with the stylist. Luckily my sister was there to keep me company and snap pictures.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ehoz4BX1Am4/URwdKZR9PnI/AAAAAAAACLM/d9mAHZ0WWUA/s1600/w.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ehoz4BX1Am4/URwdKZR9PnI/AAAAAAAACLM/d9mAHZ0WWUA/s400/w.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tMAACJV31Yw/URwdPVUgLOI/AAAAAAAACLU/Io8TB4M6S-Q/s1600/w2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-tMAACJV31Yw/URwdPVUgLOI/AAAAAAAACLU/Io8TB4M6S-Q/s400/w2.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />The other thing I learned from this process is that even if your wedding isn't until 6 p.m., everyone advises you to start hair and makeup at noon. Keep that in mind if you're considering an afternoon wedding. I heard stories from people who had to be in hair and makeup at 5 a.m. Can you imagine?!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Dp6gFILch08/URwgecrZQZI/AAAAAAAACLc/m3DLPwSMFJE/s1600/DSC_8902.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Dp6gFILch08/URwgecrZQZI/AAAAAAAACLc/m3DLPwSMFJE/s400/DSC_8902.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Wedding law also mandates that the bride must arrive at the venue hours before anything is happening to stew in her anxiousness and/or take photos. During said photo shoot outside, the shuttle bus transporting Justin and his groomsmen pulled up as I was exposed in plain view. My bridesmaids quickly shielded me so Justin wouldn't get a peek at his bride and fortunately he had no idea I was out there and didn't see a thing. Nevertheless, it was a moment I will always remember. My girls were there for me, building a human barrier so I wouldn't have bad luck on my wedding day. If some sort of bridesmaid of the year award existed, they would all be nominated.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xHplHyf3AhQ/URwjBenrvJI/AAAAAAAACLo/k6JA5iQBtAc/s1600/w8.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xHplHyf3AhQ/URwjBenrvJI/AAAAAAAACLo/k6JA5iQBtAc/s400/w8.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_sO0eIIeXqg/URwjiAra5lI/AAAAAAAACLw/rMQJEnssfrc/s1600/004141-R1-004.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_sO0eIIeXqg/URwjiAra5lI/AAAAAAAACLw/rMQJEnssfrc/s400/004141-R1-004.jpg" width="293" /></a></div><br />After taking photos, the next hour of killing time until "go time" was the most excruciating wait of my life. I wasn't nervous, I was just ready. I wasn't even nervous when my girls and I got on the shuttle to take us from the winery tasting room over to the ceremony site. In fact, I only started to feel the butterflies when my bridesmaids got off the bus to take their places and it was just me, my dad and my wedding coordinator telling me to breathe and stay in the moment. I was so collected before that, but her words made me realize that this was IT. This was the moment I had been waiting for and I didn't want it to pass me by. I started pushing back tears, and kept pushing them back all the way down the aisle as my dad was talking to me on our walk. I didn't remember to look up for photos and I don't remember everything he said to me, but I will always remember that when we reached the end of the aisle and he kissed me before giving me away, he said, "I will love you forever." It is such a vivid memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0qe3E1gWRBI/UR0kNh2Il6I/AAAAAAAACPw/1NJQ85SuBVo/s1600/DSC_8988.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0qe3E1gWRBI/UR0kNh2Il6I/AAAAAAAACPw/1NJQ85SuBVo/s400/DSC_8988.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vQMqYMXIBVc/URw2UeJn7lI/AAAAAAAACOc/fnqIngEP3Fw/s1600/DSC_9005.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vQMqYMXIBVc/URw2UeJn7lI/AAAAAAAACOc/fnqIngEP3Fw/s400/DSC_9005.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"></div><br />As tempting as it may have seemed at times to elope and skip the stress of planning a wedding, it's moments like these that make the entire process worthwhile.&nbsp; <br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-seisyjkGGu0/URw1q2xol4I/AAAAAAAACOM/q4WGm3bIF5Y/s1600/DSC_9009.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-seisyjkGGu0/URw1q2xol4I/AAAAAAAACOM/q4WGm3bIF5Y/s400/DSC_9009.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Next up, the ceremony! <br /><br />And <b><span style="color: red;">Happy Valentine's Day</span></b>!TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-32217476977627045942013-01-25T15:03:00.004-08:002013-01-25T15:15:01.222-08:00Wedding Recap - Welcome ReceptionJustin and I attended the beautiful wedding of a good friend of mine over the weekend. It was in my hometown of Austin so naturally we lived it up chowing down on <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2011/09/texas-eats.html" target="_blank">queso</a> and perhaps even snuck a <a href="http://www.whataburger.com/Food/Item/honey-butter-chicken-biscuit" target="_blank">Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Whataburger</a>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HqN8LUJEbwE/UQMFZseP-mI/AAAAAAAACEg/v45-yeaWkZA/s1600/queso.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-HqN8LUJEbwE/UQMFZseP-mI/AAAAAAAACEg/v45-yeaWkZA/s400/queso.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />It was at this wedding reception that someone asked us how long we'd been married. When I responded "almost five months", I was shocked to realize that nearly six months had passed since our wedding. Shocked! It doesn't feel nearly that long ago, and I was immediately aware that I have yet to recap this momentous life event on the blog. Since it was a pretty.big.deal. I'm going to break it down into a few different posts. You're welcome.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ufqzCYArah4/UQMIm8ki1rI/AAAAAAAACFw/jC_soAcHYTk/s1600/rehearse.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ufqzCYArah4/UQMIm8ki1rI/AAAAAAAACFw/jC_soAcHYTk/s400/rehearse.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />We considered our wedding to be a "destination wedding" of sorts because nearly everyone in attendance, including us, had to travel from out of town to be there. Because we wanted to soak up as much time with our visiting guests as possible, we decided to have a welcome reception rather than a traditional rehearsal dinner. Once we decided on the format, I was pretty immediately drawn to <a href="http://www.saarloosandsons.com/SAARLOOSANDSONS/Welcome.html" target="_blank">Saarloos &amp; Sons</a>. We've <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/02/let-them-eat-cake.html" target="_blank">been before</a> and love the chic tasting room and outdoor seating area with fire pits. And let's not forget about the wine! Located just a short drive from our wedding venue where we'd be rehearsing, it fit the wine country theme of our wedding beautifully.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bMmqMw0Nyms/UQHGBuRRJnI/AAAAAAAACAY/UwuYul_uEQQ/s1600/SS2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="267" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bMmqMw0Nyms/UQHGBuRRJnI/AAAAAAAACAY/UwuYul_uEQQ/s400/SS2.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Courtesy of <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/saarloos-and-sons-los-olivos" target="_blank">Yelp</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cZbPXkOq2io/UQHGQQXpE1I/AAAAAAAACAg/CEgoW1hbuO8/s1600/SS.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cZbPXkOq2io/UQHGQQXpE1I/AAAAAAAACAg/CEgoW1hbuO8/s400/SS.jpg" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Courtesy of <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/saarloos-and-sons-los-olivos" target="_blank">Yelp</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table>After a near fiasco with my original caterer for the welcome reception (he went MIA about two weeks before the event) my mother-in-law wrangled a new caterer and delicious menu that included BBQ pork sliders, grilled veggie sliders with pesto, salad and cole slaw. We wanted a casual meal that could be eaten while mingling with a wine glass in hand and <a href="http://newwestcatering.com/" target="_blank">New West Catering</a> delivered that perfectly. <br /><br />Our welcome reception had no program and everyone was invited. Guests came and went as they pleased and the wine and conversations were flowing the entire time. It went even better than I envisioned and turned out to be my favorite activity of the weekend. Justin and I got to welcome all our amazing friends and family who traveled from near and far to be with us and there was much less pressure on us than at the wedding itself. Many of my wedding duties that were stressing me out in the days leading up to this event were completed just before our rehearsal so I could finally relax, enjoy some much needed wine and catch up with my loved ones. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RDGtbNFTB7U/UQHK5Aq81TI/AAAAAAAACBw/t0bhRPFdhTE/s1600/ssco-20120427-10905.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-RDGtbNFTB7U/UQHK5Aq81TI/AAAAAAAACBw/t0bhRPFdhTE/s400/ssco-20120427-10905.jpg" width="266" /></a></div><br />Do you know what happens when you mix delicious wine with a photo booth?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GoLdaiDH9w/UQHQlz0F3MI/AAAAAAAACDQ/KgD16Aak2M0/s1600/collage.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1GoLdaiDH9w/UQHQlz0F3MI/AAAAAAAACDQ/KgD16Aak2M0/s400/collage.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Everyone seemed to be having so much fun that we actually had a hard time getting people to leave. The tasting room closed their doors and turned out the lights a good hour before we finally managed to vacate the premises. But that's the sign of a good party, no?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1XRWnGHECTU/UQMO7P6H75I/AAAAAAAACHA/k0tW_NP89g8/s1600/ssco-20120427-10933.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-1XRWnGHECTU/UQMO7P6H75I/AAAAAAAACHA/k0tW_NP89g8/s400/ssco-20120427-10933.jpg" width="266" /></a></div><br />This is the part in the recap where I'd like to tell you I went straight back to my hotel room like a good little bride and gave myself a detoxifying face scrub and moisturizing treatment. But if I'm being honest, I went to the bar with my friends. I stayed out too late. I even did what no bride should ever do on the night before her wedding and I ate late-night fast food. Taco Bell, to be specific. I don't regret the extra time with my friends one bit but I do regret that Taco Bell. Dang you, sodium bloat!<br /><br />Next up I'll recap the wedding day!TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-56190649029279966492013-01-18T09:20:00.000-08:002013-01-24T16:06:23.627-08:00Pinhole Press Product ReviewI'm not one of those fancy bloggers who gets incentives for reviewing products, though I'd like to be! In fact, I found <a href="https://pinholepress.com/" target="_blank">Pinhole Press</a> through said fancy blogger and I had a great experience, so I'd like to share.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://pinholepress.com/" target="_blank"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-M4_eWAmyav4/UOyN6nHAgiI/AAAAAAAABzQ/rmtnok7xTJA/s1600/Pinhole-Press-Logo1.jpg" /></a></div><br />Pinhole Press is a online shop for beautiful, customizable photo products and gifts. I'm not talking about how CVS can slap your photo on a coffee mug or mouse pad, these are high-quality products like stationary, photo albums, wine labels, calendars, etc. You pick your desired product and template and then customize it yourself right from your computer.<br /><br />My first experience with this company was when I ordered boxes with custom labels for our wedding favors. We wanted to give each guest a mini cupcake upon departure from our wedding as a little midnight snack and thank you for joining us on our special day. The bakery that did our <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/02/let-them-eat-cake.html" target="_blank">wedding cake</a> specializes in mini cupcakes so we wanted to incorporate those yummy treats but also include a message from us. The solution was Pinhole Press <a href="https://pinholepress.com/products/favor-box-label-4-50018/" target="_blank">favor box labels*</a>. I was easily able to personalize them with a photo and text that was printed on sticker labels to adhere to the favor boxes that held each cupcake (assembly required).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JiuLLaTEQVg/UOyQtFFzSvI/AAAAAAAAB0g/w1Ks2szof8k/s1600/ThankYou.bmp" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JiuLLaTEQVg/UOyQtFFzSvI/AAAAAAAAB0g/w1Ks2szof8k/s400/ThankYou.bmp" width="288" /></a></div><br />Within a week of placing the order I had received the items directly to my doorstep without complication. All we had to do from there was assemble the boxes (thanks mom and dad!) and then I had a few of my bridesmaids help me place one mini cupcake in each box and adhere the custom labels. We did this the morning of the wedding so as to keep the cupcakes fresh. Lastly, they were displayed at the exit of the reception for our guests to take home.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rwtUjkOihuo/UOyxmrMfXLI/AAAAAAAAB1w/KQl1wHyjh7A/s1600/DSC_5176.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rwtUjkOihuo/UOyxmrMfXLI/AAAAAAAAB1w/KQl1wHyjh7A/s320/DSC_5176.JPG" width="213" /> &nbsp; <img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5NaPx5V_BHM/UOyxs0VTIAI/AAAAAAAAB14/o5yOezuBMqg/s320/DSC_5183.JPG" width="213" /> </a></div><br />I was so pleased with how my order turned out that I also used Pinhole Press to print some wedding thank you cards using one of my favorite photos from our wedding. They even had a perfect oak tree template to match the theme we used for <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/10/youre-invited.html" target="_blank">our invites</a>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N1gbkTYT-C0/UOyy2bLDRII/AAAAAAAAB3I/lH0eBzIrK0Y/s1600/TYCardFront.bmp" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-N1gbkTYT-C0/UOyy2bLDRII/AAAAAAAAB3I/lH0eBzIrK0Y/s400/TYCardFront.bmp" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TA3kzhyRp18/UOyy6ydiMZI/AAAAAAAAB3Q/qmAmPb8gfPE/s1600/TYCardBack.bmp" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="315" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TA3kzhyRp18/UOyy6ydiMZI/AAAAAAAAB3Q/qmAmPb8gfPE/s400/TYCardBack.bmp" width="400" /></a></div><br />Yet again, the ordering process was smooth and delivery was quick. Once our thank you cards hit mailboxes I received no fewer than four texts about how beautiful the cards were and specific comments about the texture and quality of the paper. I look forward to more opportunities to order items from Pinhole Press and have my eye on their photo books as a possibility for our wedding photo album (aka, #16 on my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a>).<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-02h3xPeQM4M/UPSNtWJV7mI/AAAAAAAAB94/KjGE727GAC0/s1600/pinhole.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-02h3xPeQM4M/UPSNtWJV7mI/AAAAAAAAB94/KjGE727GAC0/s400/pinhole.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />*I should note that a Flash Plugin is required to view and customize the products on the site, so if your computer does not have one you will need to download Adobe Flash.TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-86414042254915890832013-01-10T10:09:00.000-08:002013-01-10T10:10:18.353-08:0030 Before 30 Update - JanuaryAs I mentioned last week, I have made some progress on my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a> that I'd like to share.<br /><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"># 13 Make my husband breakfast in bed</span><br /><br />Before we left town for the holidays we had one glorious Sunday with no plans but to see <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/" target="_blank">The Hobbit</a> at 5pm. We both slept in but as usual Justin slept longer. This gave me the perfect opportunity to sneak downstairs and whip up some pumpkin waffles with scrambled eggs for my breakfast in bed debut. I don't think I've ever made <i>anyone</i> breakfast in bed before, let alone Justin. One Valentine's Day he surprised me by bringing me an omelet and toast in bed so I've always wanted to return the favor.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Pr--rs3xm84/UO5kg1WiwrI/AAAAAAAAB5w/1ywAEHmuqGg/s1600/IMG_4364.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Pr--rs3xm84/UO5kg1WiwrI/AAAAAAAAB5w/1ywAEHmuqGg/s400/IMG_4364.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />One little beggar pup had no shame giving Justin the eye throughout his entire breakfast.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-isISG9iNQ9s/UO3DvSOrn1I/AAAAAAAAB4g/Vr8BruwC7mc/s1600/Chul.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-isISG9iNQ9s/UO3DvSOrn1I/AAAAAAAAB4g/Vr8BruwC7mc/s400/Chul.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;"># 19 Locate the time capsule I made in 6th grade (if it exists) and open it</span><br /><br />Unfortunately this task is only partially complete. While I was at my parent's house in Texas for Christmas I was able to locate the time capsule. I thought I had missed the point in time when I was instructed to open it, but it turns out I'm not due to open until 2016! Blergh. I was so looking forward to reading the letter I wrote to myself in 6th grade. The funny thing is, I still remember some of its contents. One of the items we were asked to place in our time capsule was something we thought would increase in value over the next 20 years. I thought I was being smart putting some Disney toy in there but I'm pretty sure it's still worth nothing. I would have been better off boxing up my collection of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogs" target="_blank">Pogs</a>.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uYWXDsGZFLM/UO8BKcFGQ5I/AAAAAAAAB7A/RGOlRgYgiLY/s1600/timecapsule.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uYWXDsGZFLM/UO8BKcFGQ5I/AAAAAAAAB7A/RGOlRgYgiLY/s400/timecapsule.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />So help me decide - Do I replace the time capsule item on my list with a task that I can complete by the time I turn 30 or does it still count?<br /><br />I would also like to point out that I nearly accomplished # 25 - Attend a beach bonfire. But nooooooooo. While we were in Cayucos for my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/my-29th-year.html" target="_blank">birthday weekend</a> there was a group having a bonfire on the beach just across the street from our hotel. I insisted we go join them since it was obviously fate that I had just published a list of things to do that included attending a beach bonfire. Justin was mortified by the idea of crashing a stranger's bonfire party and refused to have anything to do with it. Hmph!<br /><br />Maybe he was worried about the nature of the townies after we met this little guy in a local shop?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H_f87qQhRMY/UO8DrelryLI/AAAAAAAAB8Q/b7xo3LT2eVE/s1600/pup.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-H_f87qQhRMY/UO8DrelryLI/AAAAAAAAB8Q/b7xo3LT2eVE/s400/pup.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-80416155628958704822013-01-01T13:44:00.000-08:002013-01-08T13:19:04.120-08:00My 29th YearIn addition to unveiling my <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/12/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">30 Before 30 list</a>&nbsp;earlier this month, I celebrated my 29th birthday with drinks and cookie cake in LA...<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Uxa-yCdmPL0/UOI0fH-0Y5I/AAAAAAAABjw/QKeSnimcqTA/s1600/photo-81.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Uxa-yCdmPL0/UOI0fH-0Y5I/AAAAAAAABjw/QKeSnimcqTA/s400/photo-81.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lixCQfz6aLM/UOI0mM4BViI/AAAAAAAABj4/HUQgKua2_JY/s1600/photo-73.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-lixCQfz6aLM/UOI0mM4BViI/AAAAAAAABj4/HUQgKua2_JY/s400/photo-73.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">And then a quick road trip up the coast to a tiny little beach town called Cayucos for the weekend.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xXlorF3h3qM/UOI37hybBnI/AAAAAAAABlE/43p7-PzXFO4/s1600/photo-79.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xXlorF3h3qM/UOI37hybBnI/AAAAAAAABlE/43p7-PzXFO4/s400/photo-79.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Anytime I travel far enough North on the 101, I have to stop at <a href="http://avilavalleybarn.com/about_us.html" target="_blank">Avila Valley Barn</a> in San Luis Obispo. My bestie and I found this magical spot purely by accident on the drive up to Hearst Castle a few years ago. We were in need of a bathroom break when we took the first exit we saw and happened upon Avila Valley Barn. We pulled into the dusty dirt parking lot to see if they had a bathroom and then almost completely forgot our potty mission as we took in all the barn had to offer. There was an ice cream shop, a petting zoo, a farmer's market, gift store and the smell of baking pies and fudge filled the air. We were like children running around and shrieking at each new discovery. I've been back a few times since and every season offers new bounty. On this trip, I got a cup of oatmeal chocolate chip ice cream, Justin got some salted caramel dark chocolate fudge, and we scoped out the new baby calf at the petting zoo.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uxzcuPZSRJA/UOI5CMgKw0I/AAAAAAAABlQ/OF3sTIINUME/s1600/photo-74.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uxzcuPZSRJA/UOI5CMgKw0I/AAAAAAAABlQ/OF3sTIINUME/s400/photo-74.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HgRGLeM16wI/UOI5G5-ncQI/AAAAAAAABmY/pSSMBYS_WJo/s1600/photo-75.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HgRGLeM16wI/UOI5G5-ncQI/AAAAAAAABmY/pSSMBYS_WJo/s400/photo-75.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">With a few purchases from the gift store, we were on our way to <a href="http://casshouseinn.com/" target="_blank">Cass House</a> in Cayucos. I stumbled upon Cass House on the interwebs while I was planning my wedding over the last year. At the time I was browsing a lot of wedding related blogs and had seen some beautiful photos of a tiny and intimate wedding held in the garden at Cass House. I was intrigued by the picturesque house and garden and especially the locally and seasonally inspired restaurant at the inn. I bookmarked it for a future special occasion and my 29th birthday became just the right time to pay a visit.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiCWLG2imQg/UOND2c8EQJI/AAAAAAAABnk/tbgR0rGW74A/s1600/IMG_4272.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-eiCWLG2imQg/UOND2c8EQJI/AAAAAAAABnk/tbgR0rGW74A/s400/IMG_4272.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><span id="goog_1701987090"></span><span id="goog_1701987091"></span><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">We were greeted so warmly when we arrived to the inn and everyone on staff was so friendly and accommodating that we felt we were worlds away from the hustle and bustle of LA. There was even a birthday gift for me from the hotel waiting in our room! It was soap :)</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v5qrZefDV7w/UONFE475dNI/AAAAAAAABnw/YiuEBroPaic/s1600/IMG_4269.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-v5qrZefDV7w/UONFE475dNI/AAAAAAAABnw/YiuEBroPaic/s400/IMG_4269.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2jCbl-RKG8w/UONFVyiJOOI/AAAAAAAABo4/tlz0SDZigHI/s1600/IMG_4270.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-2jCbl-RKG8w/UONFVyiJOOI/AAAAAAAABo4/tlz0SDZigHI/s400/IMG_4270.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">We really liked how casual the inn was, like you were staying in some one's home, and the rooms that weren't in use were open so you could peek inside. Our room was our favorite since it came with a cozy patio and view of the town's main street and beach.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-27HYjFfBu0A/UONG2oemLjI/AAAAAAAABqE/PmqYZobMzHw/s1600/IMG_4271.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-27HYjFfBu0A/UONG2oemLjI/AAAAAAAABqE/PmqYZobMzHw/s400/IMG_4271.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uAMCOSisN88/UONHK-dwICI/AAAAAAAABqM/Oi4mAWZkVJE/s1600/IMG_4275.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uAMCOSisN88/UONHK-dwICI/AAAAAAAABqM/Oi4mAWZkVJE/s400/IMG_4275.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TGmXeFehc0E/UONHmpUZSzI/AAAAAAAABqU/vKPPlszwrLc/s1600/IMG_4276.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TGmXeFehc0E/UONHmpUZSzI/AAAAAAAABqU/vKPPlszwrLc/s400/IMG_4276.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">The hotel's complimentary wine and cheese that evening didn't hurt our spirits either.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4KRFGudVT64/UONNHPNzPAI/AAAAAAAABrg/mraUo_8TZF8/s1600/IMG_4294.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-4KRFGudVT64/UONNHPNzPAI/AAAAAAAABrg/mraUo_8TZF8/s400/IMG_4294.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Since it was just before Christmas, the town was having holiday celebrations the night we visited, including a gingerbread contest at our inn. In addition, every business on the main street opened their doors and served cookies and hot chocolate or soup and tea. It seemed like everyone in town was out to celebrate, including pets.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mPajGYAakD0/UONPfoukx_I/AAAAAAAABss/Pxo4rL1MF8M/s1600/photo-77.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mPajGYAakD0/UONPfoukx_I/AAAAAAAABss/Pxo4rL1MF8M/s400/photo-77.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gFtpUpakHPw/UONQZzusfmI/AAAAAAAABs4/5s7fVh06Plo/s1600/IMG_4298.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gFtpUpakHPw/UONQZzusfmI/AAAAAAAABs4/5s7fVh06Plo/s400/IMG_4298.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VYi0SRoiIvM/UONQ21CwBKI/AAAAAAAABuA/i9SQkJA7ONA/s1600/IMG_4317.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-VYi0SRoiIvM/UONQ21CwBKI/AAAAAAAABuA/i9SQkJA7ONA/s400/IMG_4317.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">When dinnertime rolled around, we headed back to our hotel for my birthday treat, a four course tasting menu at the Cass House Restaurant.&nbsp;</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nr9i9JDN4Ns/UONSGmKi8QI/AAAAAAAABvM/Ta4jCrnrrXI/s1600/IMG_4320.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nr9i9JDN4Ns/UONSGmKi8QI/AAAAAAAABvM/Ta4jCrnrrXI/s400/IMG_4320.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L5Hu5EnFZIY/UONSbf3VTAI/AAAAAAAABvU/Jyqjkdl_EGg/s1600/IMG_4322.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L5Hu5EnFZIY/UONSbf3VTAI/AAAAAAAABvU/Jyqjkdl_EGg/s400/IMG_4322.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XSJXM8aYIns/UONTAxHZyJI/AAAAAAAABvc/Pvw6AU1B-ZQ/s1600/IMG_4324.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-XSJXM8aYIns/UONTAxHZyJI/AAAAAAAABvc/Pvw6AU1B-ZQ/s400/IMG_4324.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Our meal was truly a culinary experience and the type of dinner that lasts two hours with time between each course to breathe, discuss and just enjoy your company. While I loved the courses, my favorite part about the restaurant was that they brought you tiny house-made breads between each course. We had mini versions of probably four or five types of breads and rolls instead of one big bread basket, which just made for a much nicer presentation. Unfortunately I ate the little breads before I could photograph them.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Uh2yALACAPU/UONUzdcpBGI/AAAAAAAABwo/MljYVzm-q8M/s1600/IMG_4325.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Uh2yALACAPU/UONUzdcpBGI/AAAAAAAABwo/MljYVzm-q8M/s400/IMG_4325.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3SKnuAz6efw/UONVIB0HSCI/AAAAAAAABww/4AS1inoBqxc/s1600/IMG_4326.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3SKnuAz6efw/UONVIB0HSCI/AAAAAAAABww/4AS1inoBqxc/s400/IMG_4326.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">Our stay and meal at Cass House certainly made for a 29th birthday to remember. Just a three hour drive from LA, we found a sleepy town with a sophisticated inn and restaurant that made us feel right at home.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XJFjBW7NtM0/UONXJtDc2VI/AAAAAAAAByA/68gIRnNwBwA/s1600/IMG_4328.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XJFjBW7NtM0/UONXJtDc2VI/AAAAAAAAByA/68gIRnNwBwA/s400/IMG_4328.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div>I have made some small progress on my 30 Before 30 list since then so I promise to fill you in next!TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-18347847520142756212012-12-05T11:58:00.000-08:002013-10-07T18:14:50.662-07:0030 Before 30Tomorrow is my 29th birthday. I can't believe I just typed that. In one year I'll be 30? How can that be?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s6zpO_kpemg/UL1xKTr4olI/AAAAAAAABhI/DMCZCF1vCwE/s1600/IMG_3308.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-s6zpO_kpemg/UL1xKTr4olI/AAAAAAAABhI/DMCZCF1vCwE/s400/IMG_3308.JPG" width="266" /></a></div><br />Instead of negatively fixating on getting older, I thought it'd be fun to challenge myself to accomplish 30 things that will make me feel good and/or alive over the next year. Some are things I've never done, some are things I haven't done in far too long and some are things I just finally need to cross off my<span style="font-family: inherit;"> ongoing</span> to-do list before another year passes. The 30 Before 30 idea is <a href="http://www.30before30project.com/p/30-before-30-project.html" target="_blank">not my own</a>, but my friend <a href="http://3hournaps.blogspot.com/2012/07/30-before-30.html" target="_blank">Jane did it</a> and I love it and I want in!<br /><br />I'll blog about my progress to keep me honest. So without further ado, I present to you <span style="font-family: inherit;">my 30 Before 30 list:</span><br /><ol><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Complete the Harry Potter book series (I stopped at #3 and never got around to finishing. Boo!)</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Eat at Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Go to Disneyland (I've been to Disneyworld but not land in my own backyard)</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Surprise my parents</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/06/fathers-day-surprise.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Babysit for a friend (Do you trust me? Call me!)</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Watch the Godfather (Am I missing out?)</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/03/30-before-30-update-march.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Visit Justin's family lake house in Michigan</strike> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/07/summer-vacation.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Make pasta from scratch</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Get a new stamp in my passport</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Juice! (Use my new juicer)</strike>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/05/thoughts-on-juicing.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Mail a handwritten letter/card to a loved one out of the blue</strike>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/09/30-before-30-update.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Backup my computer files and phone (Never done this. Tsk tsk!)</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Make my husband breakfast in bed</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #674ea7;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/30-before-30-update-january.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></span><span style="font-family: inherit;"><br /></span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Start a family tradition</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/03/30-before-30-update-march.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Start saving for a house</strike>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/09/30-before-30-update.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Print a wedding photo album</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Go snow skiing (I haven't been since 2006!)</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/06/30-before-30-update.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Organize my recipe book</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Locate the time capsule I made in 6th grade (if it exists) and open it</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #674ea7;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/01/30-before-30-update-january.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Begin an anti-wrinkle face regimen (Is 30 a good time to start?)</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Put a video of Chula on YouTube (She WILL be a star!)</span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Go to happy hour after work (Since moving to LA, I never go to happy hour anymore)</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/06/30-before-30-update.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Find something creative to do with all the cards we received for our wedding</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Make something in the crock pot that isn't meat or soup</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Attend a beach bonfire</strike> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/02/beach-bonfire.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Make bagels from scratch (bagels + cream cheese = my heaven)</strike>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/10/pumpkin-season-is-here.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Try a quesa-rito at Chipotle (Quesadilla opened up, filled with toppings, rolled into a burrito!)</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"> <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/03/30-before-30-update-march.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;">Figure out what to do with my wedding dress (Sell or donate? Any tips?)</span></li><li><span style="font-family: inherit;"><strike>Make our guest room more accommodating (Add curtains, clock, bedside table, etc.)</strike>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2013/09/30-before-30-update.html" target="_blank">Read here</a></span></li><li><strike><span style="font-family: inherit;">Get a real Christmas tree</span></strike><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #674ea7;"> </span></span><span style="font-family: inherit;"><span style="color: #674ea7;">Done! I got a head start over the weekend.</span></span></li></ol><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fVr9SliVy7s/UL42sum_KmI/AAAAAAAABiY/inTEjJxhpwA/s1600/photo.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fVr9SliVy7s/UL42sum_KmI/AAAAAAAABiY/inTEjJxhpwA/s400/photo.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br /><span style="font-family: inherit;">So what do you think? Would you do a 30 Before 30 list or have you done one before? I sort of feel like Bilbo Baggins. "I'm going on an adventure!"&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Arial;"> </span>TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com8tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-22066983008386891122012-11-30T14:58:00.004-08:002012-11-30T14:58:58.195-08:00Giving ThanksSo our photographer got delayed editing our wedding photos and we didn't receive them last week after all. Womp womp! I think my mom is more upset than Justin or me. I've gotten a few emoticon embellished texts from her expressing her dissatisfaction with how long the photos are taking. While I would have liked to see the photos by now, I love our photographer and I know that he's just making sure he edits everything to its fullest potential so that we have beautiful mementos to last us a lifetime.<br /><br />Meanwhile, last week I celebrated my first married Thanksgiving with my new brother and sister in-law and it was phenomenal, if I do say so myself. Justin's brother Mike and wife Jessica live in Chicago and graciously came out to LA to join Justin and me for the holiday. Jessica and I both love to cook and the boys love to watch football and play guitar together so it's really the perfect holiday for everyone.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1XQFFq0yRVY/ULfg3srt2rI/AAAAAAAABao/uivmst7Jhbc/s1600/tgiving.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1XQFFq0yRVY/ULfg3srt2rI/AAAAAAAABao/uivmst7Jhbc/s400/tgiving.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />We started Thanksgiving day at 9:30 am watching the Detroit Lions game while drinking mimosas and eating a breakfast casserole I made in the crock pot overnight. I sort of combined my mom's sausage, egg and cheese casserole recipe with <a href="http://iowagirleats.com/2012/11/13/crock-pot-breakfast-casserole/" target="_blank">this crock pot one</a> so it'd be ready when we woke up. All we had to do in the morning was brew some coffee and pop some champagne! <br /><br />Sadly the Lions lost, so the ladies got started on the Thanksgiving meal. Since there were only four of us I was just planning to roast a turkey breast, which is more on my comfort level. But my sister-in-law went to culinary school and has no fear of large birds so she offered to roast up a whole turkey for us. It was inspiring to watch her confidently tackle the 16 pounder, stuffing it with leftover orange peels, onions, carrots, celery and coating it with a mixture of butter, poultry seasoning and a few other spices.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O4iJJaOKujo/ULfv3JsJFRI/AAAAAAAABb0/vKGa_MhsRZc/s1600/tgiving2.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-O4iJJaOKujo/ULfv3JsJFRI/AAAAAAAABb0/vKGa_MhsRZc/s400/tgiving2.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Jessica also made a yummy pomegranate salad, garlic mashed potatoes, the gravy and glazed carrots.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G6uVIpqNFCo/ULkGnoJuSsI/AAAAAAAABdE/d4cryqMkr90/s1600/IMG_4259.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G6uVIpqNFCo/ULkGnoJuSsI/AAAAAAAABdE/d4cryqMkr90/s400/IMG_4259.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I contributed my favorite <a href="http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2011/11/dijon-braised-brussels-sprouts/" target="_blank">dijon-braised brussels sprouts</a>, cornbread stuffing, <a href="http://www.eatliverun.com/bourbon-vanilla-cranberry-sauce/" target="_blank">bourbon vanilla cranberry sauce</a> and a <a href="http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/caramel-pecan-tart-10000001673199/" target="_blank">caramel pecan tart</a> that I never got a picture of :(<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dMOZ1-rx1rA/ULkH_zTEWRI/AAAAAAAABdU/SVB_KDqusq0/s1600/tgiving3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-dMOZ1-rx1rA/ULkH_zTEWRI/AAAAAAAABdU/SVB_KDqusq0/s400/tgiving3.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qoz37i6fsWE/ULkIJXbBzCI/AAAAAAAABdc/bYQiTg1SZ-E/s1600/tgiving5.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qoz37i6fsWE/ULkIJXbBzCI/AAAAAAAABdc/bYQiTg1SZ-E/s400/tgiving5.jpg" width="330" /> </a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zEt0tTKS2NA/ULkG1dUXmXI/AAAAAAAABdM/Ku--7UDCFrc/s1600/tgiving6.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zEt0tTKS2NA/ULkG1dUXmXI/AAAAAAAABdM/Ku--7UDCFrc/s1600/tgiving6.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zEt0tTKS2NA/ULkG1dUXmXI/AAAAAAAABdM/Ku--7UDCFrc/s400/tgiving6.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zEt0tTKS2NA/ULkG1dUXmXI/AAAAAAAABdM/Ku--7UDCFrc/s1600/tgiving6.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>Justin said it was his favorite Thanksgiving meal EVER and we all commented on how thankful we were for our families and starting new traditions together. As you know, Mike and Jessica also got married this year, so it's really great to have another couple to figure out the married life and family changes with. It's a huge bonus that I just adore the girl Mike chose to marry. My mom and my dad's sister have been close for as long as I can remember, and I always hoped to have a sister in-law I could call a friend too. I'm so thankful to have added another amazing sister and friend to my life, and especially one who promises to give me some kitchen tutorials in the near future! <br /><br />Jessica is already great in my book because she has good taste in men, likes to cook, likes to eat and likes to travel. But then she suggested we make tamales out of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey and I was officially in love. I LOVE tamales! They remind me of home and specifically home during the holidays, since my mom makes up a big batch of them for Christmas every now and again. <br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CgoMM_w-mdM/ULk0Yfgpp-I/AAAAAAAABeo/DITRL9iZBpU/s1600/tgiving7.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CgoMM_w-mdM/ULk0Yfgpp-I/AAAAAAAABeo/DITRL9iZBpU/s400/tgiving7.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />Justin and I both got a tamale tutorial so we can make them again in the future. Our 'males contained turkey cooked with onions and garlic and mixed with tomatillo salsa, re-fried beans, cilantro and cheese.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Uhx2O2foUc4/ULk3IhmpdKI/AAAAAAAABf0/olosmCFC53A/s1600/tgiving8.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Uhx2O2foUc4/ULk3IhmpdKI/AAAAAAAABf0/olosmCFC53A/s400/tgiving8.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ObOGJC3FmI0/ULk3Mg6niLI/AAAAAAAABf8/1qjnjkc4QQ4/s1600/tgiving9.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ObOGJC3FmI0/ULk3Mg6niLI/AAAAAAAABf8/1qjnjkc4QQ4/s400/tgiving9.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />They turned out awesome and Justin has been eating them like candy. I put about 12 in the freezer so we don't demolish them all at once. We go almost the entire year without eating tamales for some crazy reason, and then the holidays remind us how awesome they can be.<br /><br />I have to also give a shout out to TCU for making a great Thanksgiving even better by beating UT! As always, I'm thankful I'm a Frog :)TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-78159262230849102332012-11-14T14:35:00.001-08:002013-06-06T16:58:22.380-07:00DIY Wedding FlowersGood news! My photographer says I should receive our wedding photos this week! I'm so anxious to see them but also nervous at the same time. There are portions of the wedding festivities that I missed entirely while hiding out at the venue so Justin wouldn't see me and while taking photos before and after the ceremony. I haven't seen any pictures of the guys getting ready and Justin and I missed the whole cocktail reception since it took place while we were getting our photos taken together. Seeing those photos will be like experiencing some of the wedding moments for the first time. I was so heavily involved in the planning of the wedding that it was hard to relinquish control and not know exactly what was going on every second of the event. I am fully aware of how much I sound like a freak. I won't make matters any better by telling you I thought it'd be fun to <strike>control</strike> do my own flowers too.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-252vcDRQvTo/UJ2DU31USbI/AAAAAAAABTE/qGxBeVaC-co/s1600/Flowers3.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-252vcDRQvTo/UJ2DU31USbI/AAAAAAAABTE/qGxBeVaC-co/s400/Flowers3.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />To save money, my month-of coordinator advised me to do as much of the wedding flowers as possible on my own. She did not recommend that I attempt my own bouquet (apparently they are quite tricky) so I hired a florist to do my bouquet, the boutonnieres for the men, and some minimal ceremony decor. I took on the bridesmaids' bouquets and the centerpieces for the reception with the help of my family, my mom's best friend Jane and my sister's boyfriend Cody.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LqZGhTGGsig/UKKSnGzktuI/AAAAAAAABVc/tKrFgG9yVF4/s1600/Flowers2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-LqZGhTGGsig/UKKSnGzktuI/AAAAAAAABVc/tKrFgG9yVF4/s400/Flowers2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />I had this fantasy of strolling the Santa Barbara farmer's market with a steaming latte in hand, completely relaxed and happy at the thought of saving thousands of dollars on flowers by doing them myself. While the farmer's market itself was pretty breezy, putting together centerpieces the day before your wedding is a bit of a logistical stresser. Since I had a Saturday wedding, we purchased the flowers Friday morning and needed to have them done by the time we left for the rehearsal that evening. We were dropping off all of the wedding decor, wine, printed materials, etc. the night of the rehearsal and luckily the winery agreed to store the flowers in a cool room away from the sun. I was going for a wildflower winery feel with the florals, so this photo I found on Pinterest inspired me to spend the months before the wedding collecting and cleaning wine bottles to use as vases.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P90lr8NJoRw/UKQJ7dxUzsI/AAAAAAAABWk/_a1ZtZ-8_7k/s1600/Flowers10.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P90lr8NJoRw/UKQJ7dxUzsI/AAAAAAAABWk/_a1ZtZ-8_7k/s400/Flowers10.jpg" width="266" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Source: Pinterest.com)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />After filling the wine bottles with fresh water we started arranging the centerpieces. I purchased all of my flowers for this project at the Farmer's Market for around $100. I was limited in the quantity of each type of flower available so every centerpiece was a little different, which was part of the fun.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4NXUvHwkc9k/UKQKrZ6mDMI/AAAAAAAABWs/UAL0gdIIWNg/s1600/flowers8.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4NXUvHwkc9k/UKQKrZ6mDMI/AAAAAAAABWs/UAL0gdIIWNg/s400/flowers8.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KVDXSSQBO9o/UKQKxRsNGFI/AAAAAAAABW0/6vW3DoYNL3M/s1600/flowers7.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-KVDXSSQBO9o/UKQKxRsNGFI/AAAAAAAABW0/6vW3DoYNL3M/s400/flowers7.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-exlv4F5w9i0/UKQLXrcM4eI/AAAAAAAABW8/8EmiYarS_0I/s1600/Flowers11.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-exlv4F5w9i0/UKQLXrcM4eI/AAAAAAAABW8/8EmiYarS_0I/s400/Flowers11.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />We completed the wine bottle centerpieces with custom wine labels, which served as the menus for dinner.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FDBgyqOzWfE/UKQNVmUmXoI/AAAAAAAABXM/2niMHutQcRY/s1600/Flowers13.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FDBgyqOzWfE/UKQNVmUmXoI/AAAAAAAABXM/2niMHutQcRY/s400/Flowers13.jpg" width="291" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9nAZUEB0UyM/UKQNGgHn2-I/AAAAAAAABXE/Z4lWVESm-Lw/s1600/Flowers13.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div>The wine label menu was actually something my caterer suggested to save space on the tables since we were having a family style dinner service. There were two wine bottles placed at each table, and each were labeled front and back. I found <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/nancynikkodesign?ref=shop_name_search_sugg" target="_blank">Nancy Nikko Design</a> on <a href="http://www.etsy.com/" target="_blank">Etsy</a> and she incorporated my oak tree theme and menu on self adhesive wine labels. She was excellent to work with and made sure I received my items in time.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X6nmC5HH7L8/UKQO4foE3fI/AAAAAAAABXU/fiJafr8sw4M/s1600/rebecca_proof3.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X6nmC5HH7L8/UKQO4foE3fI/AAAAAAAABXU/fiJafr8sw4M/s400/rebecca_proof3.jpg" width="296" /></a></div><br />I must admit to having a minor melt down when I realized that the labels weren't working quite as well on the rounder bottles that usually hold white wine. Their circumference must not be consistent from top to bottom because minor bubbling occurred. With only a few hours until I was supposed to leave for the rehearsal I was in a panic thinking I wouldn't be able to use the labels that had bubbled. I had stupidly only ordered as many labels as I needed so I had to make it work. My family calmed me down and we decided to use them anyway rather than have missing elements.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jOyolSNnQ2Q/UKQRwOonkJI/AAAAAAAABXs/L6bMGjOdQmE/s1600/Flowers12.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-jOyolSNnQ2Q/UKQRwOonkJI/AAAAAAAABXs/L6bMGjOdQmE/s400/Flowers12.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div>In addition to the wine bottle centerpieces, I had also drawn more inspiration from Pinterest for a lavender-lined hurricane candle to adorn the center of each table with the wine bottles on either side.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XCBNJsKCrl4/UKQRB6riO4I/AAAAAAAABXk/bWtf5Uj1ZcA/s1600/Flowers15.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="320" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-XCBNJsKCrl4/UKQRB6riO4I/AAAAAAAABXk/bWtf5Uj1ZcA/s320/Flowers15.jpg" width="213" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">(Source: Pinterest.com)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />When I mentioned this idea to my florist, she was hesitant to use fresh lavender since the flowers would be set outside hours before the wedding and they wouldn't be in water in this case. I purchased dried lavender from her instead and rented her hurricanes. My sister and her boyfriend Cody assembled our version of the lavender candles. If Cody doesn't make it through law school, I think he has a future in floral arrangement ;)<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5-2jPkZEnko/UKQSc-RL0zI/AAAAAAAABX8/rIIbFQ990qA/s1600/Flowers1.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5-2jPkZEnko/UKQSc-RL0zI/AAAAAAAABX8/rIIbFQ990qA/s400/Flowers1.jpg" width="300" /></a></div><br />Assembling these items ourselves saved me around $12 per candle compared to having the florist do it. We had around 15 hurricanes so that was a savings of nearly $200.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nsb1sb-kF-4/UKQUvOMOiGI/AAAAAAAABYE/GgrGXRebyX0/s1600/Flowers16.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-nsb1sb-kF-4/UKQUvOMOiGI/AAAAAAAABYE/GgrGXRebyX0/s400/Flowers16.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />In keeping with the lavender theme, I ordered dried lavender bunches online from <a href="http://koyalwholesale.com/" target="_blank">KoyalWholesale.com</a> for the bridesmaids' bouquets. I kept it simple and tied them with lace ribbon and twine that I had leftover from other projects. All six of them took under thirty minutes and cost less than $100.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-512eDEwCJ3Y/UKQVfVFLc2I/AAAAAAAABYM/LGL-c0hkDNs/s1600/flowers6.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-512eDEwCJ3Y/UKQVfVFLc2I/AAAAAAAABYM/LGL-c0hkDNs/s400/flowers6.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Unless flowers are one of your biggest priorities for your wedding, I would recommend going the DIY route to save some cash. Although stressful at times, everything came together as I had envisioned it in the end and I saved thousands of dollars to put towards other elements of the wedding. To be honest, I liked the simple lavender bouquets I made on my own more than my own bouquet that I paid way too much to have done. Le sigh.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-piVmeJDMadQ/UKQawjx2jzI/AAAAAAAABZU/I-d83elF8F8/s1600/Flowers17.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-piVmeJDMadQ/UKQawjx2jzI/AAAAAAAABZU/I-d83elF8F8/s400/Flowers17.jpg" width="266" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;">UPDATE: Now that I have my professional wedding photos I wanted to add a few to give you a better idea of how the centerpieces looked all together.</div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: left;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Wj6m4hVXkp0/UbEhaB4SGzI/AAAAAAAACf0/2fNzkW6b3ys/s1600/004139-R1-004.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Wj6m4hVXkp0/UbEhaB4SGzI/AAAAAAAACf0/2fNzkW6b3ys/s400/004139-R1-004.jpg" width="293" />&nbsp;</a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I-Q6WM3pIoM/UbEhrUa4llI/AAAAAAAACf8/m_BTGvsUfH4/s1600/004135-R1-030.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="263" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-I-Q6WM3pIoM/UbEhrUa4llI/AAAAAAAACf8/m_BTGvsUfH4/s400/004135-R1-030.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><br /></div>TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-67649677227497901672012-10-19T21:10:00.001-07:002012-10-19T21:12:36.325-07:00You're InvitedWe've enjoyed well over a month of wedded bliss with still no wedding photos in our possession. Until I can paint a picture of that special day with our professional photos, why don't we focus on some of the fun little details that played a role in the event? As for our photos, trust me, the anticipation is killing me too!<br /><br />Let's start by talking about invitations. <br /><br />We wanted our invites to set the tone for what our wedding day would be like. For us that meant elegant but still informal, natural but still beautiful, and an icon to represent the atmosphere of our nuptials under a big oak tree. I fell in love with our venue the second I spotted the oak tree on the ceremony lawn, so it was only fitting to carry the theme throughout our invitations.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-WmnIUd--pdw/UIHTkTSdJGI/AAAAAAAABKs/nr2qkkFG_2o/s1600/Firestone.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="265" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-WmnIUd--pdw/UIHTkTSdJGI/AAAAAAAABKs/nr2qkkFG_2o/s400/Firestone.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />After having a great experience with them for our save the dates, we found the perfect oak tree invites through <a href="http://minted.com/" target="_blank">Minted.com</a> at a very reasonable rate. With Minted, you select a design from hundreds of unique invites and then customize the wording, colors, fonts, etc. to your liking. You receive a proof before anything is printed and once approved, the final invitation components are shipped to you un-assembled. While you do need to assemble the invitations yourself, I found Minted to be affordable, extremely user-friendly and quick to deliver.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uf_b8voLwFY/UIHV86E_rlI/AAAAAAAABK0/ed0SFeSBaKc/s1600/invites.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-uf_b8voLwFY/UIHV86E_rlI/AAAAAAAABK0/ed0SFeSBaKc/s400/invites.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />Our invitations, inserts and envelopes arrived neatly packaged and ready to be stuffed. While Minted does provide the option for return address printing, it was an additional cost and I had a better idea. I found a beautiful custom address stamp from <a href="http://www.shopantiquaria.com/" target="_blank">Antiquaria</a> and purchased green ink pads from <a href="http://www.paper-source.com/">Paper Source</a> to provide a unique DIY touch to every invite.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aCM3Xc9o9T0/UIHZZvGawoI/AAAAAAAABMI/iycfU8jdanw/s1600/Stamp.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-aCM3Xc9o9T0/UIHZZvGawoI/AAAAAAAABMI/iycfU8jdanw/s400/Stamp.JPG" width="300" /></a></div><br />A return address stamp can be used long after the wedding is over as long as you remain at the same address. I ordered the "Calligraphy Accent" style, demonstrated below. Each custom calligraphy stamp is hand lettered just for you.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IIz1QKGkLu4/UIHZ0lHoURI/AAAAAAAABMQ/j1S2LssYng0/s1600/G_C-web.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="120" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-IIz1QKGkLu4/UIHZ0lHoURI/AAAAAAAABMQ/j1S2LssYng0/s400/G_C-web.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Before stamping away on my limited supply of envelopes, I did a few test runs on scrap paper to find just the right method to provide even ink distribution that wouldn't smudge. I used quick drying ink to cut down on accidental smears. While the process was labor intensive and I definitely ruined a few envelopes before I was finished, I was very pleased with the end result. I didn't have to pay a calligrapher to achieve the little elegant touch I wanted and I can continue using the stamp for thank you notes.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9dblrJ3UFtk/UIIknnoWAUI/AAAAAAAABRw/ZXuLjFMHtm0/s1600/IMG_3935(2).jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-9dblrJ3UFtk/UIIknnoWAUI/AAAAAAAABRw/ZXuLjFMHtm0/s400/IMG_3935(2).jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />Calligraphy is fun, but it just wasn't our style to have every invitation hand lettered by a professional. It also wasn't our style to use the standard formal invitation wording that's been used for weddings for hundreds of years. We personalized things by adding lines like "Dinner, dancing and ample wine to follow," and customizing our response cards using a narration involving something very dear to me - wedding cake!<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--H8-w_SarII/UIHfEfPpwkI/AAAAAAAABNk/AGdM3-X8lD0/s1600/RSVPProofFINAL.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/--H8-w_SarII/UIHfEfPpwkI/AAAAAAAABNk/AGdM3-X8lD0/s400/RSVPProofFINAL.jpg" width="308" /></a></div><br />Since our budget didn't allow any room for additional guests, I decided to include the number of guests from each household that were invited to the wedding in the response card. While not customary, I didn't want there to be any confusion about who we were asking to attend. Guests responded by listing the names of those attending and checking "There's a slice of cake with my name on it" or "No cake for me, I am unable to attend." I hand number each response card to correspond with the number of guests invited from that party and I kept track by numbering the back of my response cards to match the numbered invitation list I had saved on my computer.<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cqWYCnXDp2s/UIIYwTAgboI/AAAAAAAABO4/Xq_cxIE9ELo/s1600/IMG_3934.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-cqWYCnXDp2s/UIIYwTAgboI/AAAAAAAABO4/Xq_cxIE9ELo/s400/IMG_3934.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />TIP ALERT - I <i>highly</i> recommend numbering your response cards. I was lucky to see this tip online before I did my invitations because before then I hadn't anticipated receiving blank responses in the mail with no return address. When guests decline, they typically do not write their name on the response card and if they simply place it in the return envelope and stick it in the mail (without including their own address) then you have no way of knowing who is declining. My trusty numbering system came in handy quite a few times.<br /><br />For the finishing touch, we ordered custom stamps from <a href="http://Stamps.com/" target="_blank">Stamps.com</a>. Once your face is on a stamp, you've pretty much made it in life, am I right?<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XMNeV2erw2E/UIIfVFLO9II/AAAAAAAABQU/gw_ApY0KVes/s1600/photo-55.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-XMNeV2erw2E/UIIfVFLO9II/AAAAAAAABQU/gw_ApY0KVes/s400/photo-55.jpg" width="400" /></a></div><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com7tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-3273767188551720822012-09-26T09:34:00.002-07:002012-09-26T09:34:38.783-07:00Married!We did it! As of September 8th we're married and officially a family now - Justin, Me, Chula and Vincent.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bvre2vax7Yw/UGMs4CHI2HI/AAAAAAAABKE/4q3Q6KbJIM8/s1600/familyphoto.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-bvre2vax7Yw/UGMs4CHI2HI/AAAAAAAABKE/4q3Q6KbJIM8/s400/familyphoto.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;"><br />(Portrait by <a href="http://retrowhale.com/" target="_blank">Retrowhale.com</a>)</td></tr></tbody></table><br />Can't wait to catch you up on the details soon :)TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-8851001957449829244.post-91576482193666298202012-09-05T15:13:00.000-07:002012-09-25T15:24:52.748-07:00ChicagoOh hi. It seems that I forgot I had a blog here for the last two months. That's what being just around the corner from your wedding day will do to a person. Suddenly there's no time for anything and when you do have time you just want to savor the nothingness. I hope you'll understand.<br /><br />Back before I was hit with the reality that this wedding is actually happening whether I'm ready or not, I had a lovely break from it all in beautiful Chicago. Chicago is one of those cities people are constantly praising and making me want to visit. Our primary purpose for the visit was to attend <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/2012/07/wedding-season.html" target="_blank">Justin's brother's wedding</a>, but my secondary goal was to explore the new to me city as much as possible in our short time there. And it was short. I feel like I could spend another week just sampling the restaurants I wanted to visit. Here's a taste of what we did manage to squeeze in.<br /><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yYEzzSHJeSQ/UEfLDTwZC2I/AAAAAAAABHs/HhjixHkcQDQ/s1600/IMG_4047.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="327" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yYEzzSHJeSQ/UEfLDTwZC2I/AAAAAAAABHs/HhjixHkcQDQ/s400/IMG_4047.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Roy Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7To0DPXhBo8/UEfLUwceYQI/AAAAAAAABH0/XpveE7HDrhY/s1600/IMG_4048.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7To0DPXhBo8/UEfLUwceYQI/AAAAAAAABH0/XpveE7HDrhY/s400/IMG_4048.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">So appro.</td></tr></tbody></table><br /><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oe8cmTB5jIo/UEfLdVaz1uI/AAAAAAAABH8/CF0Nnu_uRO4/s1600/IMG_4071.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-oe8cmTB5jIo/UEfLdVaz1uI/AAAAAAAABH8/CF0Nnu_uRO4/s400/IMG_4071.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Veggie flat bread at the museum Cafe. I just love museum cafes!</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RF1DKc-7Qtg/UEfLwuozzAI/AAAAAAAABIM/tj-OLcAX0v8/s1600/IMG_4083.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RF1DKc-7Qtg/UEfLwuozzAI/AAAAAAAABIM/tj-OLcAX0v8/s400/IMG_4083.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Architecture tour by boat</td></tr></tbody></table><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mklMSOWkeH4/UEfLqtkHlCI/AAAAAAAABIE/vfJ2tu07GN0/s1600/IMG_4076.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><br /></a></div><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5awazSLgRV0/UEfMA9tfF4I/AAAAAAAABIU/bPZdvNbH-1c/s1600/IMG_4090.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="400" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-5awazSLgRV0/UEfMA9tfF4I/AAAAAAAABIU/bPZdvNbH-1c/s400/IMG_4090.JPG" width="266" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Da bean! Gave us oompa loompa legs :(</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Eo0a6b-WYag/UEfMSJALcCI/AAAAAAAABIk/Aah_lP7M8qc/s1600/IMG_4095.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Eo0a6b-WYag/UEfMSJALcCI/AAAAAAAABIk/Aah_lP7M8qc/s400/IMG_4095.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Free concert in Millennium Park</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JMAVHaokN4Q/UEfMO1opBZI/AAAAAAAABIc/pi_yyIaJWJ8/s1600/IMG_4098.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-JMAVHaokN4Q/UEfMO1opBZI/AAAAAAAABIc/pi_yyIaJWJ8/s400/IMG_4098.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Picnic complete with Garrett Chicago mix popcorn</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VAPoUlI9SG4/UEfMyyqVWEI/AAAAAAAABIs/-iDRl78Zrn4/s1600/IMG_4099.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VAPoUlI9SG4/UEfMyyqVWEI/AAAAAAAABIs/-iDRl78Zrn4/s400/IMG_4099.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Deep dish pizza</td></tr></tbody></table><table align="center" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; text-align: center;"><tbody><tr><td style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-INDE0i-4EIM/UEfM7fdFfGI/AAAAAAAABI0/N1xWnLvXTUk/s1600/IMG_4103.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"><img border="0" height="266" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-INDE0i-4EIM/UEfM7fdFfGI/AAAAAAAABI0/N1xWnLvXTUk/s400/IMG_4103.JPG" width="400" /></a></td></tr><tr><td class="tr-caption" style="text-align: center;">Brunch at Publican!</td></tr></tbody></table>Since our trip I've had a lovely bridal shower, bachelorette party in Laguna Beach and worked on many, many craft projects for the wedding. It's been a whirlwind and I can't wait to share them with you.<br /><br />Pssst, between you and me, I'm getting married THIS weekend! Blogging will commence when I am single no more. Thanks for your patience! PS, I have done <i>some</i> blogging related work in the last two months. You can now find this blog at <a href="http://www.tastechaser.com/">www.tastechaser.com</a>. Whoop! My own dot com!&nbsp; <br /><br />As for you, Chicago - I will be back!<br /><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m9WsvN1wVCw/UEfQ6ZENYbI/AAAAAAAABJc/39O6ZEYjSrg/s1600/photo2.JPG" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" height="300" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m9WsvN1wVCw/UEfQ6ZENYbI/AAAAAAAABJc/39O6ZEYjSrg/s400/photo2.JPG" width="400" /></a></div><br />TasteChaserhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03063429494302031995noreply@blogger.com1