Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Favorite Holiday Treat, Artificial Coloring and All

It's no secret that I lovelovelove cheese.  A visit to a place like Murray's Cheese is really the perfect fieldtrip for me, but my love isn't relegated to fancy cheeses.  For as long as I can remember, my grandmother buys a cheeseball and puts it out with crackers before dinner on Christmas Eve.  You know the kind of cheeseball I mean; it's a solid sphere of brightly-colored, almond-covered spreadable cheese that has to be unhealthy when consumed in large quantities.  It's a once-a-year treat and I look forward to it for months before the holiday.

This awesome post on Chow has me majorly craving the taste of a cheeseball (they are dubbing their creation the 'turducken of cheese').  The tutorial on how to make a gourmet version has really piqued my interest.  There are several types of cheese layered on top of one another and the finished product is rolled in almonds, pecans and bacon.  Nom nom nom for real. 

Even if the Chow creation promises to melt in my mouth, I still can't wait for the traditional port wine cheeseball, courtesy of my awesome grandma.  Only 25 more days to go...

Photo via Chow (via Culture)

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Holiday Season Rolls On...

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving, and Anthony and I hosted dinner at our apartment. Despite the cramped quarters and the shortage of plates and utensils (we had nine people over, but it seems like everything we own comes in a set of eight), there were few glitches.  And now, Christmas is barreling towards us.  I normally love the holiday season but this year, things seem rushed and muddled.  I wish sometimes that there was a way to slow life down a bit so that the great moments are easier to enjoy (wow, what a cliche that was, almost worse than a catchphrase in a movie trailer--ha!).

There's so much to look forward to in the coming months but I still find it hard to ignore the not-so-good stuff.  I'm hoping that some Christmas carols and marshmallowy hot cocoa will help alleviate some of my worries.  Tonight, I will finish working on this Christmas ornament project.  Perhaps I will start writing out Christmas cards.  Above all, I will try to be merry and slow down enough to appreciate the joyous season.

Thursday's centerpiece and handmade placecards

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A little Saturday morning announcement...

Wouldn't this be a beautiful bouquet for a bride?

I've been thinking about things like flowers and cakes and dresses a lot during the past few weeks because...Anthony and I are engaged!  The proposal was absolutely perfect and couldn't have been sweeter (and it was a complete surprise, which was exactly what I wanted!).  Now after being together for almost eight years, we get to plan a wedding, which is daunting and extremely exciting all at once.  We're so happy and really looking forward to this next chapter in our lives.

So what do you think about peonies? We're looking to get married in March or April and I'm not even sure what flowers are in season in early spring.  These are things that I would have never thought about just a mere three weeks ago, but I'm loving every second.

Photo via Robyn Michelle Lee Photography

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Books: Bossypants by Tina Fey

I just finished Tina Fey's Bossypants and I feel like I was the last short, quirky, Saturday Night Live-loving, New York City-obsessed white girl with glasses in America to read it.  People said that I would laugh out loud in public while reading, which I kind of doubted, but when I found myself giggling in the corner of a coffeeshop during my lunch break, I realized they were right.  Not only was this book funny but I loved how Fey was open and honest about all parts of her life, even if it didn't paint her in the best light.

My absolute favorite part of this book was the two-page "Rules of Improvisation."  It was in one of the first few chapters when Tina (we're on a first name basis now, apparently) was discussing her time at Second City in Chicago as an improv actor.  These rules obviously apply to improv and performance acting but I found them so helpful with regard to my own writing.  My takeaway is that no matter what you're writing, you need to go with it and at least give it a chance.  If you have some lady walking into a dark alley, make something happen.  Even if she doesn't get attacked or robbed in that alley, something should happen that propels the story, or scene, or skit.  Don't just stand there and let your story flounder.  Give it the assistance that it needs.  If that lady gets through the alley without anything happening, perhaps the story isn't worth telling.

Tina Fey is a talented writer, which is really not up for dispute in my mind.  It isn't easy to make a reader laugh and cringe and still stay interested while you talk about crazy co-workers and horrible hairstyles from the 1980's for 300 pages.  If this wasn't a library book, I might be tempted to rip out a few pages, highlight them and stuck them on the wall above my desk.

*Note: I lovelovelove the chapter on Tina's honeymoon cruise/disaster. I thought that it was so funny that I made Anthony read it before bed one night and he laughed for ten straight minutes (proof that this book has universal appeal).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hello Kitty, Deconstructed

I walked into the kitchen at work today to see this:

So sad and adorable at the same time.  I wonder why someone poked one of the whiskers into her forehead though.  And I wish someone would make a Hello Kitty cake for me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fancy Cookies for Happy Occasions

I went to a baby shower yesterday and found myself surrounded by tons of strangers (and a few of my favorite people), more presents than I could count, fake diapers with melted chocolate stuck inside as some kind of weird 'party' game, and half a dozen beautiful pregnant women.  It's so thrilling to think about how many people love this little baby boy who isn't even born yet. 

I'm never one to turn down helping with a party.  I dug up some great printable banners and made these adorable cookies:

Too bad there aren't more reasons to make baby onesie cookies.

Also, the best salad in the world was served at this shower and I've been thinking about it for the last twenty hours so tonight I made an exact replica for dinner.  Who knew that blue cheese, pears, walnuts and this easy, delicious homemade salad dressing would mix so well?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Not Your Average Rack (Bike Rack, that is)

Public art brings such character to a city.  In Stamford, new installations are featured yearly on the downtown streets, and in La Jolla, California, there are awesome giant cows on almost every corner, all painted different colors and designs.  In Washington DC, art has merged with function and there are some really great bike racks popping up throughout the city. 

I wonder how many people don't even realize that these are for bicycles!

Images via dcist

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Grown-Up Halloween

Monday was Halloween, not a favorite day of mine.  I don't like dressing up and I don't like being scared, which are the two major components of this holiday.  And we never get any kids for trick-or-treating so my brother and sister-in-law invited us over to their home last night to hand out candy.  I'm glad we went.  Nothing is better than watching a bunch of adorable toddlers trying to walk around in butterfly costumes and funny hats.  And there was no shortage of candy either, which is always a plus.

At work, it was business as usual, except for the mini cupcakes I brought in.  It never hurts to be festive when most of your co-workers are grumpy, right?

I hope you had a fabulous Halloween--any interesting costumes to share?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little Celebrations (and Hats with Ears)

I once told Anthony that when we have children, everything he or she wears is going to have ears attached.  Hats, hoodies, onesies...all clothing that can possibly have ears will have ears.  I just love babies when they look like little bears.  It sounds weird but I can't be the only weirdo because so many stores/companies make items with ears.

In any event, I was just asked by one of my close friends to help her decorate/organize her sister-in-law's baby shower next week.  It's sort of last-minute but involves all of the stuff I love the most: crafting, celebrations, cute cookies, and possibly balloons.

Here are a few of my ideas so far (by the way, she's having a boy!):

Balloon Banner via Design Mom

Heart Cookies via Bump Smitten 

Pom Pom Garland via Say Yes! to Hoboken

And as a special treat, this is the hoodie I bought for the guest of honor.  How cute is he going to be with these little ears?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Netflix Movies: The Graduate

The Graduate came out 15 years before I was even born but it's one of those classic movies that is supposed to stand the test of time.  The epic scene at the end when Dustin Hoffman bangs on the glass window while his true love gets married to another man is still wholly recognizable over 40 years later.  It was one of those movies I knew I'd love, the same kind of feeling that I had right before I fell in love with Annie Hall

So why didn't I really like The Graduate?  My first thought is that it was too slow, but I typically like slow-moving films as long as their interesting.  I've narrowed my dislike down to two reasons.  One, Dustin Hoffman cannot pass for 22 years old in this role as Benjamin.  He was actually in his early thirties when they shot the movie and honestly, I think he could easily pass as at least 37 years old.  It took the believability factor down a few notches for me.  Two, I didn't see the chemistry between Elaine and Benjamin.  Why did he want her so badly?  After reflecting a bit, I think it's merely because he couldn't have her and that made him want her more. 

Anyway, the ending was completely ambiguous and that I loved that.  I'm so disappointed that I wasn't an instant fan of this classic though that I'm willing to watch it again.  Besides the awesome Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack, what do you like about The Graduate and why do you think it's still relevant? Personally, I think that Anne Bancroft's portrayal of the polarizing Mrs. Robinson has a lot to do with it.