Thursday, September 30, 2010

things i love...

{we heart it}
craig . the fall . tea . olive (our dog baby) . walking . my sis, han . happy hour . sushi . my parents . our cottage . fires in the fireplace . good wine (and cheap wine if it tastes good) . jazz . philadelphia . old movies . boots . dessert . the house i grew up in . weekends away . pashminas, scarves and the like . france ( . singing . traditions . cooking . the today show . earrings . yoga . writing . late nights with friends . laughing . champagne (and champagne cocktails...) . modern family . long showers . papa john's . playing the piano . wedding planning . dinners out . tomato & mayo sandwiches . anthropoligie . the rittenhouse . reading . dreaming about our future . homemade red sauce . house tours . tinto . entertaining . dresses . my engagement ring . muhlenberg . the holidays . talking about ideas . date nights . colby & duncan . the area where we live . lazy days .  my morning cereal . rainy days . blogging . the travel channel . vacations (both the planning & actual vacationing) . wine tastings . homemade bread . time at home . where i am right now in my life

rittenhouse square


what do you love?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

say cheese! (a.k.a. meeting the wedding photographers)

m2 photography
so, last night craig and i met with our (potential) wedding photographer.  the meeting went really well.  they're a husband and wife team, and they always shoot together.  their style is awesome.  candid.  real.  spontaneous.  artful.  beautiful.
m2 photography
craig and i both agree that we want photographers who capture the feel of the day.  not just the faces.  we're all about "action" shots of crazy dancing, hearty laughter and happy tears.  and m2 photography fits that to a "t".

like what you see?  you should totally check out their website & blog.  they're awesome. 

p.s. as you can see, none of the picts are of craig & me (yet).  but i'll be sure to post our engagement session (planned for this november) and wedding picts (you'll have to wait til november 2011 for those) for all to'll just have to be patient...

m2 photography

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

squash, acorn squash

when i was grocery shopping today, i came across a squash display.  spaghetti squash.  butternut squash.  and (ahha) acorn squash.  feeling inspired and "fallish", i was compelled to purchase said acorn squash and craft a hearty meal.  stuffed acorn squash it is...

stuffed acorn squash for two

1 acorn squash
1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped
1/2 frozen veggies (i chose corn & peas)
1/4 lb ground turkey
1/4 cup red sauce
5 tsp maple syrup (i know that's a weird way to write it, but you'll see why...)
garlic, chopped

preheat oven to 375.  cut acorn squash in 1/2 and scrap out seeds and place cut-side up on a baking sheet.  i didn't have butter (oh well) so i did a light spray of butter-flavored cooking spray, a drizzle of syrup (1 tsp on each half) and a sprinkle of sea salt and ground cinnamon.  on to the filling...

i then sauteed the onion, (defrosted) veggies, garlic (about 1 tsp) and turkey.  i seasoned the filling with another dash of cinnamon & curry, salt, 1 tsp of maple syrup and the red sauce.  then i spooned the mixture equally into the two halves (there was a little extra for craig to enjoy) and covered both halves loosely with foil.

then i put the squash in a preheated 375 degree oven and baked it for 30-40 minutes, until flesh was getting tender (check w/ knife).  i then removed the foil, drizzled each 1/2 with 1 more teaspoon of syrup and baked for another 15-20 minutes.

the best way to enjoy it is to scoop out all the tender squash and mix/mash/mush with the fillings and dispose of the skin.  (it may not be pretty, but it tastes so good!)

Monday, September 27, 2010

girls' night in (can be even better than girls' night out)

pink drinks
this past weekend, craig had friday night plans with his guys, so i had our cottage all to myself.  i invited my sis, han, over for a much needed girls' night.  we enjoyed some cocktails, made a delicious dinner, watched a movie and indulged in countless reality shows : )  needless to say, we had a blast!  (even olive enjoyed the evening.)

we all need some girl time once in a while.  here are my suggestions for making the most of your super girly night : )

recipe for girls' night
prep work: get into your sweats or pjs
1 awesome sister (or best friend....or both)
2 delicious cocktails (if they're pink, even better)
1 yummy homemade pizza : )
1 chick flick (we watched the "back up plan" with jlo.  we agreed it was better than we anticipated!)
3-5 girly reality shows ("say yes to the dress", "four weddings", etc.)
1 batch of gooey brownies

perfection!  enjoy girl time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

how to win friends & influence people

so, you want to know the real secret to winning friends and influencing people?  bake them bread.  it never fails.  my sister shared this no-knead (super easy/simple/fun) bread recipe with me a while back, and i've been enjoying homemade, fresh baked, yummy bread ever since.  so, i guess the cat's out of the bag.  i can no longer impress people with my super refined bread baking skills once they read how easy it is...

...oh well.  it's totally worth it.  fresh baked bread for all!  (this recipe makes 3-4 boules)

3 cups warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1/2 tbsp salt
6 1/2 cups flour

1 large bowl - that will allow dough to quadruple in size
clean dish cloth

mix yeast and warm water.  add salt.  add flour.  mix with wooden spoon until dough forms a loose ball.  do not to over mix.

leave dough in bowl and cover bowl with dish cloth.  allow to rise for 2 hours.  dough will quadruple in size.

at this point, you have a few options.  you can cover dough/bowl with plastic wrap and foil and refrigerate for a few hours (or up to 3 days).  i recommend this because cool dough is much easier to handle.  or you can freeze the dough (for months).  or you can bake it immediately.  or a combo of all three : )

whichever you choose, when baking time comes, flour your hands and work surface and take approx. 1/4 of the dough and form a boule (i.e. round loaf) by folding dough in on itself, so the top is round and smooth and all "loose ends" are tucked under loaf.  (tip: when forming boules, it's a great time experiment with add-ins.  my personal faves are homemade pesto, asiago cheese or pecans, cinnamon and sugar.  to evenly distribute, flatten dough and spread fillings over it.  then fold dough in half.  then in half again.  then form boule by tucking ends under loaf to form a sphere. yum!)

place the boule on an oiled baking sheet (sprinkled with cornmeal if you have it) and allow to rise, uncovered, for 40-60 minutes.  before baking, cut a slash or two across top of dough to allow air to escape during baking.

then bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  when dough is golden brown and smells intoxicating, it's done.

(if you're going to use the dough to make a pizza crust - which i highly recommend - you can skip the "second rise".  just take dough out of fridge, flatten it, top with sauce, cheese, veggies, amazingness, etc. and bake at 425 for 25 minutes or so and enjoy : )

pizza pizza
once people sample your fresh baked bread, you'll have more friends (and allies) than you'll know what to do with.

happy weekend!  hope it includes the smell of homemade bread - mine will : )

Thursday, September 23, 2010

on the hunt (for the perfect dress)
so yesterday i began my search for the perfect dress.  correction: wedding dress.  up until now, wedding planning has consisted of internet browsing, visits to and a lot of talking about guest list, vendors and the like.  so, trying on dresses - actual wedding dresses, dresses that i could wear as i walk down the aisle to become a "mrs." - took this wedding planning business to a whole new level.  one that's much more real, immanent (...even though we're not getting hitched until next fall...) and exciting.  it's really happening.  i'm getting married.  i'm going to a bride and then say "i do" and then become somebody's wife.  weird.  wonderful.
so...back to the dresses.  i had to pick up my bridesmaid dress for my friend, cate's, wedding.  i figured, why not take advantage of the situation (invite my mom and sister along) and begin the hunt.  i tried on 10 or so dresses.  and i really liked one.  and there was one runner up.  i'm completely not ready to seal the deal and say "it's the one", but i certainly felt like a bride in the dress that i am (currently) most smitten with.  i definitely need more time, more visits to more bridal shops and more try-ons before i commit.  ironically (with regard to the commitment thing) craig - my husband-to-be - is my first boyfriend.  i felt no need to shop around once i met him : ) 

i've included picts of some of the dresses i tried on, but if you want to see my personal fave (of the moment) you'll have to click here.  that way (if this one becomes the one), craig will still be surprised.
i liked oleg cassini's line at david's bridal the best.  i think most of these images are from his line.  but...i must say...i may hold out for when they get vera wang's line next year : )

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

ode to my cereal

i love my cereal.  i have it every morning for breakfast (and have done so for the past 4 years or so).  what can i say...i'm a creature of habit.  and (since i've had the luxury of time) i'm pretty sure i've mastered the art of the perfect bowl.  my morning cereal ritual is not to be taken lightly.  it's much more than corn flakes in a bowl with milk.  it's an experience that takes finesse.

my perfect bowl : )

-1 cup cereal (preferably a mix of 2-3 of your favorite kinds.  i <3 kashi golean crunch and multi-grain cheerios)
-1 tbsp raisins (or craisins if you're feeling spunky)
-1 tbsp chopped pecans
-1/4 banana, sliced (save the remainder for tomorrow's bowl or a snack or shake later : )
-a few strawberries, sliced
-sprinkle of cinnamon
-dash of nutmeg
-3/4 to 1 cup soy milk (or skim milk)

mix all dry ingredients with fruit & spices in bowl.  top with milk.  it's the perfect mix of slightly sweet & satisfyingly crunchy.  enjoy! 

my favorite bowl is my buddha bowl.  craig gave it to me for my birthday last year, and it's sculpted to fit in the palm of your hand.  if you're a serial cereal consumer, you need one.  believe me.  oh cereal, you're deliciously divine!

what's your go-to breakfast?  (for a free kashi treat click here.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

first signs of fall

happy fall!
fall is almost here!  can you feel it?  (i can.)  as you know, i love this time of year - it's my fave : )  so, i've been getting very excited when i come across signs of autumn in my travels.  i can't help but smile when i see pumpkins on porches, leaves getting a touch of crimson or feel a crisp fall breeze brush by.  ahhh, fall....  you're so wonderful.  welcome back.
fall leaves
the first official day of fall is september 22 (and here in bucks county, pa it's supposed to be 90 degrees.  yuck!)  anyway, i still plan to usher in fall and all it's splendor.  here are a few ideas of how you too can celebrate the autumnal equinox.

-rake some leaves (i'm not big on manual labor, but it is fallish...)
-enjoy some cider
-visit an orchard and go apple-picking (the ultimate fall excursion)
-bake something "harvesty" (i suggest pumpkin bread...yum!)
-enjoy a fall cocktail : )

feeling fallish, yet?  i hope so.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

i carry your heart

hannie (my little sis) is coming back from ohio!  she's been out there completing her governess certification ever since she graduated from college.  so, first off, congrats han : )  and secondly, yay!!! you're coming home!!!  in honor of my baby sister's return, i wanted to share our favorite poem with you all.  (it's a good one.)  enjoy : )

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
- ee cummings

i carry your heart
we always write the closing line to one another in cards, in emails, on facebook walls, in text messages, etc.  when i was studying in paris, i got us a pair of necklaces each inscribed with part of the final line, and for last christmas, i wrote a melody to sing the verses to.  so, yeah...we love this poem : )  it's our little code to say "i'm thinking of you and with you, where ever you might be". 

i carry your <3 (i carry it in my <3)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

i want a bar cart (i.e. a classy excuse to make cocktails on mondays...)

bar cart from restoration hardware
so, as i've mentioned before, my heart & soul ache for the 1940s.  simpler times.  classier times.  i love the way they dressed back then.  the music.  the lifestyle.  it just all seems so fabulously wonderful yet effortless.  this love (or should i say obsession...) has led me to the conclusion that i need a bar cart.  yes.  you heard me right.  a bar cart.  if i can't go back in time to the 40s, i'll bring a little bit of the 40s to the 21st century.  (and some cocktails too...check out my french martini recipe below.  you're welcome : ) 
another one from restoration hardware
watch any old movie, and you'll notice that upon entering a home, apartment, office or just about any place for that matter, they bee-line for the liquor.  of course, it's much more refined than that because the spirits are not kept in some shady kitchen cabinet or in the freezer behind the veggie burgers and ice cream.  they're displayed (artfully) on a bar cart.  and having the goods out & in view, on the aforementioned bar cart, signals guests that they are welcome, at any moment, whether it be noon or midnight, to help themselves to their drink of choice.

so, yeah.  i need a bar cart.  mine would definitely need to have st. germain (elderflower liqueur - my new favorite!) and grey goose.  and i'd keep some jack in stock for craig : )

what would be on your bar cart?

another charmer from southern accents
...delicious inspiration... 
try the french martini : )

1.5 oz st. germain liqueur
1.5 oz grey goose vodka
squeeze of fresh lemon
garnish with lemon peel twist

1. rim a cocktail glass with super-fine sugar.
2. shake liquors & fresh lemon in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
3. strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
4. top with champagne and add garnish.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

bet you can't not smile : )

what can i say?  she's just the cutest!  and she makes me laugh (all the time).  i really can't look at her without smiling.  yes, that's right...i'm a proud (dog) mom.  my (dog) baby, olive, is just the sweetest.  craig, my fiance, and i adopted her last november, and she's been making us laugh ever since.

whenever she's outside, she just has boundless joy.  sometimes i watch her and am awed (and a little jealous) at how little it takes for her to have an absolute blast.  olive really knows how to make the most of simple pleasures.  a walk.  time spent outside.  watching a bird or squirrel.  greeting a loved one when they come home.  way to go olive.  you're totally zen and you don't even try to be.  you're really much more advanced than the rest of us : )

what you can't hear (because i dubbed over my voice with the cute music) is that during this entire video (yes, the entire 2 minutes) i'm asking olive to "roll over".  which, as you can see, she decides she'd rather not do...

here's hoping this video leaves you smiling : )

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

stupid for your love

you can thank hannie (my little sis) for this post. she wrote on my facebook wall and told me i had to check out brendan james - she said his music is awesome. and as usual, she was right. (she's always finding these fabulous artists and sending them my way.) well, thanks again, baby sis.  he's great!

if you like him (and his music) check out this free download on his website!
stupid for your love enjoy : )

...and this song goes out to my steady beau...

Monday, September 13, 2010

rain, rain (don't) go away

rainy day relaxing
rain on the window pane
there's just something about a rainy day that beckons you to join it in its dreary simplicity.  curl up, it says.  veg out.  do nothing.  put your pjs back on, brew a cup of your favorite tea and enjoy a good movie.  i've never minded rainy days.  i actually need one once in a while.  i'm a home-body and rainy days encourage you to stay inside, get cozy and replenish.  and honestly, who doesn't need that once in a while?!

tea cup
my recipe for the perfect rainy day...

-1 pair of sweatpants
-1 sweatshirt
-2 fuzzy socks
-1 cup of tea (refill as needed)
-1 to 6 movies of your choice (depending on how much replenishing is required.  my personal go-tos are father of the bride (the steve martin one), baby boom or any oldie but goodie on turner classic movies)
-1 person to cuddle with (and yes, pets do count!)
-optional: 1 fire in the fireplace, if weather appropriate

oh rain, don't go away quite yet...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the ties that bind

family is always greater than the sum of its parts. (or at least my family is...) unique individuals acting as one united front. collective memories. shared traditions. happy times. sad times. always with food, love, laughs and a lot of hugs. these are the ties that bind...

learning family history from aunt marilyn on st. patty's day
aunt marilyn's pineapple bread pudding (a.k.a. 1950s here we come!)

1 1/2 cups softened butter (you know it's going to be good when you start with that much butter : )
3 cups sugar
dozen eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/4 cups crushed pineapple, drained well
2 1/4 cups mandarin orange slices, drained well & cut up
15 slices white bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes

cream butter & sugar. add eggs. pour in pineapple, oranges & bread cubes. mix gently & pour into a greased 9" by 13" (or larger) casserole dish.

bake uncovered at 350 for 50-60min.

enjoy with family : )

Friday, September 10, 2010

falling for fall (are you a falloholic?)

hi, my name is cailen, and i'm a falloholic.  i love when the mornings get cooler, the days get shorter and the leaves begin to change.  when an unexpected warm, sunny day creeps in mid-september, it can put me in a bad mood. 
our thanksgiving table
i'm a fall chick.  i was born in november and love nothing better than sitting fireside, sipping hot cocoa (or sherry : ) and feeling that "fall" feeling.  you know the feeling.  that intangible splendor of crisp breezes, pumpkins on porches and golden corn stalks swaying in farmers' fields.  hay bales.  colorful maple leaves.  hearty soups.  crusty breads.  (i know, i always go to food...)  enjoying time with friends and family.  moving indoors and making home feel like it's supposed to.  warm, cozy, inviting and filled with wonderful memories. 
our driveway, fall 2009
i'm big on traditions, so this time of year fits me like a glove.  seeing kids go back to school, waiting for buses - it makes me reminisce (and dare i say miss?) the back-to-school ritual.  when school preparations fade, there's homecoming (go mules!), halloween, (my birthday and craig & my anniversary) followed closely by thanksgiving.  ahhh, thanksgiving.  it gave me that good "rush" of nostalgia just typing the word.

oh, fall.  you make me oh so happy.  here's to early dusk, hearth side gatherings and falling leaves.  cheers.

are you a sucker for sweaters, apple-picking and hot cider?  then you might be a falloholic too!  what do you love best about this time of year?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

remembering 1935 (and a great aunt)

the cost of a new house was $3,450.  babe ruth hit his 714th and final home run of his career.  bette davis, katharine hepburn & clark gable ruled the big screen.  parker brothers released monopoly. elvis presley was born. amelia earhart flew solo across the pacific.  and astaire & rogers danced in "top hat".

remembering a great year & a lovely lady 
my family

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

boston: drink by drink

boston cocktails: )
warning:  you may get a bit tipsy from reading this post.

craig and i spent labor day weekend up in boston with his sis, val.  i haven't been to boston in years, and we could not have picked a more gorgeous weekend.  very much a fall preview, weather-wise : )  we did a lot of visiting, walking, talking, eating and drinking.  pretty much an all-around good weekend by anyone's estimation, i would imagine.  so in lieu of giving you a step by step run down of everything we did (and saw) and believe me, it was quite a lot, i figured i'd gloss over the highlights (and the drinks)!

val & craig
friday: dinner and drinks in somerville near val's apartment.  and introduction to my new germain liqueur.  it's an elderflower liqueur and has a kind of pear-citrus flavor and is completely scrumptious!  tonight val and i enjoyed cocktails of st. germain, grey goose, champagne and fresh lemon.  and yes, they were as amazing as they sound...

saturday: the morning consisted of a tour of sam adam's brewery.  very cool.  great tour guide and free beer.  i'm not beer drinker, but it was still a good time : ) i like free things, and i did enjoy learning how to properly taste and evaluate beer.  food and drink lessons are always fun.  afternoon = red sox game.  sports aren't generally my thing either, but tradition and nostalgia totally are.  fenway is a step back in time.  afterwards drinks at "game on" sports bar.  i mean free drinks at "game on".  thanks to val's connections, we were treated to two rounds of free beverages.  the evening consisted of sushi, a visit to harvard square and another oh so delicious st. germain and champagne treat!  seriously, try it.  it transports you to 1940s paris in a heartbeat (or should i say a sip)...

craig at sam adam's brewery
sunday: one word.  walking.  we walked then walked some more.  which i was totally on board with after all the food/drinks.  we started at val's place and walked through cambridge, down newbury street, stopped at quincy market for lunch, enjoyed harbor views, made our way through the north end and finally found ourselves seated at the bar of the oldest tavern in boston, bell in hand.  this time i quenched my thirst with a water (yes, i do drink water, too) and raspberry vodka and club with a splash of peach schnapps and lime wedge.  fruity and yes, refreshing.  afterwards, back to val's for some much needed down time before venturing out to dinner in the davis square section of beantown. posto (despite the hour long wait for a table) was fabulous.  homemade, gourmet pizzas.  fig, caramelized onion & gorgonzola.  wild mushroom.  roast chicken, pesto & goat cheese.  is your mouth watering yet?  and guess what they had (besides to-die-for roasted chili oil for bread-dipping)...wait for it...a st. germain sparkler.  perfection.

near quincy market
monday: final day.  slightly travel weary but still having fun.  today we walked back to harvard square to do a bit more exploring.  stopped for lunch.  indian buffet this time located in a sub-subterranean restaurant with a cavernous, hole-in-the-wall kind of feel.  afterwards, we wandered in and out of shops and took in the super preppy atmosphere : )  we made our way back towards val's place and stopped once more for our new favorite drink.  val dropped us off at the airport around dinner time for our 8pm flight and craig and i enjoyed dinner and drinks at legal sea foods.  the best airport food i've had.  ever.  and they even had st. germain...

craig & cailen : )

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