Saturday, October 4, 2014

A little spur of the moment trip

In most marriages, there is usually one person who is the down to earth one, and one that is the impulsive one.  I'll give you one guess which one I am.

You see, Emma's hubby Nick had a week long business trip to New York planned.  Emma decided to go along.  Then I decided to go along.  But for just 3 days.  A little crazy, but why not?  My girl was alone in the city, and with free hotel and frequent flyer miles available, it was just too hard to say no. I quickly rearranged my week and booked my ticket!

I left early Monday morning and arrived in New York by lunchtime.  That's utterly amazing to me!  Alone, I made my way to their hotel in Times Square, and when I got there, suffice it to say, we were a little excited!!  Never mind the blurry selfie.  :-)


Untitled

When Nick got home that evening from work, we went to one of our favorite spots -- Serendipity 3.  They are famous for their Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, which is like what all frappuccinos can only aspire to be.   It's hard to describe how delicious it is.  Serendipity is just the quaintest little place.  And we found out this trip that they have amazing chicken pot pie, too!

 Untitled


Untitled


On Tuesday, we relaxed in the room with some bagels and coffee, then headed out for the day.  I was so excited to discover a free Subway app for my iphone and let me tell you, IT SAVED US.  I am used to following my hubby around like a puppy dog and I've never had to navigate NYC on my own. 

We took the subway down to the lower west side, and started in Greenwich Village.  The village is full of beautiful little parks and eateries.  We walked our way to the Flatiron district for a late lunch.  I have always wanted to try Grimaldi's pizza but it's in Brooklyn and have never made it there.  Now there is one in the city!  Yay!  Our favorite pizza has always been Lombardi's but I have to say Grimaldi's was just as good.  I love love love New York pizza, the coal ovens just make it so amazing.

Untitled

Grimaldi's is inside an old church, through the red doorway.

Untitled

Just look at that pizza.  Mmm.

After lunch, we shopped.  And we found a new love in the city -- Fishs Eddy.  Fishs Eddy was such a cool place and like no other store I've seen.  It was sort of a combination of a really good flea market mixed with a Crate and Barrel.   They had sets of vintage dishes and serving ware along with new things like Mason Jars.  We had so much fun there!

 Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

That night for dinner, we went to Becco, another favorite.
The best thing on their menu is called Sinfonia de paste.
You get a salad or antipasti plate, wonderful bread basket, and all you can eat of the three chef's pastas of the day.  The night we went there was fresh linguine with bolognese sauce and fresh peas, penne with fresh tomato sauce, and gnocchi with fresh pesto.  All for $22 which is a fantastic dinner price at a nice restaurant in NYC.

After that, Nick and Emma wanted to go to Junior's that night for cheesecake. What a day!

On Wednesday, we again hopped the subway to the South Ferry exit.  We got off the subway and boarded the adjacent Stanton Island Ferry.  The ferry is a great way to view the Statue of Liberty upclose as well as a great view of Manhattan.  Plus, it's free!  It's about a half hour trip to the Island, so round trip about an hour cruise.  I highly recommend a trip to Liberty Island, but if you're short on time, this is a great way to see Lady Liberty.

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Next, we took another subway over to Chinatown.  NYC has the biggest Chinatown in the whole U.S.

There are tons of vendors (basically all selling the same things).  Scarves are 2/$10 and they sell tons of knock off designer bags (which they will take you to see somewhere else...sketch).

 Untitled

We got one very cute souvenir in Chinatown  :-)

There are also tons of eateries.  We thought dumplings sounded good, so Emma googled "best dumplings in NY" and sure enough we found this little hole in the wall that had over 2000 Yelp reviews.

We made our way and knew we had struck gold when we saw the cheap prices and the line out the door (which had Asian people in it, always a good sign).  
We spent $5.75 (total) and got 16 dumplings AND a water bottle.  Crazy.  It was so good!

Untitled

Untitled

Thankfully, there was one little stool for the pregnant woman.
I was happy to see the "A" rating at a place like this.  :-)

Untitled

Plump little fried pork and chive dumplings - fresh and hot!

Untitled

Just eat 'em on the street!

 Untitled

That last night, we were all a bit tired, so we got some yummy Greek take out food and ate it in the room.  

We also Face Timed with the remainder of our family on the west coast.  Drew and all his faces.  After we snapped this screen shot Drew said "don't take a picture!"  Too late  :-)

So that's how we did NYC in a little under 3 days... it was a blast!

I flew home early Thursday morning and Nick and Emma returned Friday, after capping off their trip seeing Wicked!

post signature

Monday, September 22, 2014

Exciting news!

 photo

I'm so excited to announce that my daughter Emma and her hubby Nick are expecting their first child in April! 

Emma posted the above pic, which was taken in their home, with the following:

"We recently found out some incredibly life changing news that we have been so excited to share.  Baby Steadman is on the way.  April can't get here soon enough!!  It will be the BEST DAY EVER when we get to meet this baby we prayed for."

I am SO excited to become a grandma :-)

"Behold, children are a gift from the Lord."
Psalm 127:3



post signature

Friday, August 8, 2014

Snippets of Summer

photo

The highlight of our summer thus far was a wonderful long weekend in San Clemente with our kids.  Now that they are married it is extra special to be able to spend extended time together.

We have vacationed in San Clemente every summer since we got married. Because of that, it holds a special fondness for all of us.

This year, however, we hung up our usual camping accomodations in favor of resort life - there is no turning back now!  
We stayed at the San Clemente Inn and would definitely go back.  It was reasonable and had a lot of great amenities.

We had so much fun going to the beach, playing tennis & miniature golf at the hotel, visiting great local restaurants, shopping at all the cute shops in town, and of course some good evening Sequence tournaments.

At one of the antique shops, we found this, and since we had the truck with us, we decided why not make it ours?

photo

It has a new home in our dining room and is just perfect for my little Depression Glass collection.  It will be a great place to serve drinks or set up coffee.

 photo

Of course, our summers are always full of homegrown heirloom tomatoes!  It hasn't been the best year for some reason, but we've gotten some real beauties.  

To give some perspective, in this picture the tomatoes are on a regular sized jelly roll pan.  The big yellow tomatoes in the foreground are called Pineapple and are about 2 lb. each.  They are gorgeous, juicy, and flavorful.

Here's one way to serve them:

 photo

Just a little red onion and blue cheese makes a pretty salad.  We sprinkle on our favorite rosemary olive oil and a little good balsamic.  This is practically a meal in itself!  Add some good crusty bread and you're all set with an easy summer dinner. 

We have also made salsa with fresh jalapenos and cilantro. Fresh salsa is the best.

Since I love Rao's bottled sauce so much, I decided to plant a San Marzano tomato plant this year.  I have made a couple batches of marinara and it is delicious!  I just put the tomatoes in the vitamix with some fresh garlic, sweet onion, and fresh basil.  I pulverize it and simmer it on the stove a long time with some olive oil, salt and pepper.  That's it!

Other things we are growing:  lettuce, carrots, beets, strawberries, Japanese and Armenian cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, colored bell peppers, basil, jalapenos, yellow squash, and zucchini. 


 photo

Our pup Buttercup has gotten so big and weighs around 40 lb. now!
She has proven to be a typical lab in the water.  She loves to play fetch or just lounge on the step to stay cool on hot summer days.

photo

And it's sure a "ruff" life having your own lounge chair in the shade.

 photo 1

We have found a new fave place to frequent - Urth Caffe.
 There is one downtown that we love, and Rich has taken me there on several occasions when I've come to his office.

Now there is a new one in Pasadena!  
Check out some cool photos of the place here.  
It's the perfect place for breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee or a Boba.  And it's fantastic at night for dessert and coffee. They have great organic coffee and outstanding pastry.

Their food is so fresh and absolutely delicious.  I love the ambiance! 
The restaurant is very large and open air and done in Spanish decor, which includes lots of tile mosaics and a pretty fountain.

I must say I have found myself here a few times this summer either with a friend or most recently on a breakfast date with my hubby.  The above photo was Rich's beautiful food - poached eggs over fresh, yummy veggies.   

Below was my dish - I'm such a fan of their oatmeal.

 photo 2

This and a fresh hot Americano really hit the spot on a slightly chilly morning.  :-)
post signature

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

WDW returns with ACAI BOWLS!


Meet my new obsession -- Acai bowls.

They are like ice cream that is good for you!
I like to eat them for breakfast or lunch but feel free to treat them like dessert!

What is an acai berry anyways?  It's considered a "superfood" from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.  The acai tree is actaully a type of palm tree.  Brazilian natives consider the berry to be a secret of health, providing energy, and boosting immune and metabolic function.

Here are some interesting facts about acai berries:

-They contain amino acids & omega fatty acids.

-They have all the same vitamins and minerals of most fruits, but also contain unique chemical compounds found in no other fruit on the planet.  

-Acai contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants you can find -  including a superpotent one called anthocyanin.  It also has free radical powers. Acai's ORAC (oxygen radical absorbancy capacity) is over 3500, which is hundreds of times higher than your average apples and bananas.

The best way to get acai is by buying it frozen.
The company Sabazon sells convenient packets of plain Acai and Acai mixed with guarana extract.  The latter is lightly sweetened with organic cane juice and I prefer that one.


How to make 1 serving

 In high-powered blender add the following:
-1/2 frozen banana, cubed
-1 packet Sabazon Acai puree 
(I get mine at Costco, they also have it at Sprouts and probably Whole Foods)
-1/2 cup liquid (I like almond milk or raw milk or half OJ/half milk)
 -small handful of ice

Blend to the consistency of ice cream.
Now, the fun part... toppings!
 
I like to add the following:
fresh fruit 
(my faves are fresh berries, sliced bananas, peaches, and kiwi)
homemade granola
toasted shredded coconut
and my absolute fave: chia seeds

If you're near Los Angeles, and want a foodie adventure, here's a link to the best acai bowls in town!



post signature

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Adventures with Annie Sloan Paint

Recently I got turned on to the ease of refinishing furniture with a product called Annie Sloan paint.

I knew a few people who had tried it and had raved about it.  With this type of paint, which is a chalk paint, you are able to paint over any wood finish without sanding or priming.  You just have to be sure your piece is cleaned off and you can start painting it.  I had a few pieces of pine furniture and a kitchen table set I wanted to refinish, so I decided to give it a try.  My sister Suzanne helped me with the first piece, which is a dresser we use in our family room.

Here is a before shot of the dresser (I forgot to take the pic before we painted the drawers).  Originally we purchased this piece unfinished over 10 years ago.  It's just a basic piece with not much detail.  When we got it, we put a clear coat on it and over the years it grew to be a light honey pine color.  

Untitled

Since I am slowly moving my house colors from the warm to cool.  So I chose a gray color called French Linen.  Annie Sloan paint is about $40 a quart but I only used about 1/4 of the can for this piece.

  We applied three coats of the paint and then I waxed it twice with Annie Sloan wax.  The chalk paint dries, well...chalky.  :-)  So you need to finish with a protective product after you paint.  The finish with the wax applied has just the slightest sheen but feels smooth.  This is easy to do with a brush or cloth.  I am really happy with the way this turned out (my walls are being painted a pale gray as I type, so just ignore the clash of the butter color- also do you think I could have straightened the lamp shade before snapping a pic?) Suzanne graciously donated some extra vintage-type glass knobs she had so I estimate the cost of this project to be about $10.  Nice!

Untitled

Next, Suzanne and I tackled my kitchen table.   Again, we had bought the set unfinished and we painted it black.  To be honest, I've never been very happy with the way it turned out, so it was the perfect candidate for Annie Sloan!   I chose the color Old White.   I am so thankful my sister helped me because this was a much bigger project.  We actually used a whole quart of the paint for this and put on three coats of Polycrylic.  Here is the table and chair before:

 


Untitled

And after:

Untitled


What a difference!  I love it.  
I did a light distress and some of the black paint came through and it's perfect.  The original micro suede chair cushions were aging and a bit blase with all the white, so I ordered this fun fabric to recover them with.  My walls are being painted a light grayish blue so this fabric will look perfect.   

Project cost on this was about $80 since I'm recovering the chairs.  Pretty good for such a dramatic makeover. 


The breakfast nook will be so light and cheery!

 Untitled

My next project was my master bathroom vanity cupboards.  They were a (yellowing) "white washed" oak, which is GREAT for the 1990's... anyways I should have had them refinished dark when my kitchen cupboards were refinished a few year ago - but I'm not that smart.  :-)   

I figured Annie Sloan would be a easy and quick fix and I was right.  My bathroom is also being painted a pale gray (hence swatches painted on the wall) so I thought to use the French Linen again on the cabinets. 

Again, I forgot my "before" picture until I was already trying the paint on a little. 

Untitled


Don't even ask what my bathroom tile is  -- it came with the house. It's kind of Southwesty/Art Deco (if there is such a category) and features unique metallic elements.  Yeah.
I've learned to make peace with it.  
Untitled

Ta-da!  Super easy facelift for about $5 and a few hours of time! 
I used 2 coats of Annie Sloan and 2 coats of Polycrylic. 
I am very pleased!


Stephanie was over last Saturday refinishing a vintage dresser my sister found her for $20 at a thrift store. She did it this fabulous Duck Egg blue and waxed it.  She's going to get some cool knobs for it and hang a large ornate mirror over it for her bedroom.

 Here's the before shot:

Untitled 

And after - mid-century becomes funky and cool:

 Untitled

Stephanie also helped me redo this cute little vanity seat I had from Rich's mom.  We used the French Linen then wet distressed it (wiping a damp cloth over it right after painting) which revealed the former cherry wood finish.  I put a quick coat of wax on this and it was done. We recovered the seat in a scrap of fabric I had laying around, and Stephanie is going to put it in her house.

Untitled

 So after all this, Rich asked me (in a very nice way) to please not paint EVERYTHING in the house - ha!

Just so you know, Home Depot also sells a less expensive chalk paint.  My sister tried it and she said it's similar to Annie Sloan.  
Happy painting!

post signature

Friday, June 6, 2014

Princess BUTTAcup

{If you're not a Princess Bride fan, you may not get my title!}

I'm finally getting around to blogging about our little puppy girl Buttercup who we've had A MONTH already! She's doing so well and is a good little girl.  Don't get me wrong-- it's a lot of work (and it's tiring) to have a puppy who has a "schedule."  It's almost like having a baby!   I cannot go out for more than 2 hours at a time, since that is about all the time you can expect a puppy to wait without needing to relieve themselves.  :-)  And since our yard is not totally "puppy proof" when she is outside I must join her.  When she is inside she is either in her crate or in the kitchen closed off with baby gates.  :-)  I don't let her wander around the house just yet. She is about 90% housebroken now, and has begun communicating her need to go out, vs. just letting go on the floor, but I don't trust her fully yet.  So she keeps me busy!

We were very pleased that she came to us with the skill of sleeping through the night (PTL!). I expected some sleepless nights and bleary-eyed 3 am flashlight led potty runs, but alas she pleasantly surprised us.  She goes in her crate around 9pm and Rich gets her up around 5:00am.

Having her has reminded me of how much we adore labradors. I feel a little guilty when people ask where we got her (at a breeder). I know there are tons of pups in shelters needing homes, but we just love the purebred labs.  They have the BEST temperaments and love EVERYONE.  Not a mean bone in their bodies.  This is super important to me as she will likely be here when the grandkids start coming.  :-)  And I think it goes without saying that labs are some good looking dogs.  They are also super fun and love adventure like swimming and hiking.  Our kids adore her and she is already a very loved family dog.

Though it's cramped our empty nester style a bit (not gonna lie), we are really enjoying her.  It's a little hard that she can't really be out in public yet unless we carry her (and she has gone from 8 lb. to 15 lb. so it's getting harder to tote her around).  This is due to the fact that her vaccinations are not complete and the prevalence of canine parvovirus.  In two more weeks she can walk on a leash in public places and we are looking forward to that! 

As you'll see in the pics, she's getting along very well with our 13 year old chocolate lab, Missy. I think Missy has gotten a little perkier, too having a puppy friend.   I tell you, Missy has the patience of Job.   Buttercup does everything annoying possible to her.   Sometimes she barks at her, but I know she wouldn't hurt her.  They have a cute relationship.

Enjoy the pics!

 Untitled

First day home - 8 weeks, 8 lb.

 Untitled

 Untitled

Untitled

9 weeks

Untitled


Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

First outing -- Chipotle on Rich's birthday.

Untitled

A few pics of her all tuckered out ...

Untitled 

Untitled

Don't think of it as "sleeping" but rather "recharging" :-)

Untitled

Fun with sissy Missy

Untitled



Untitled


Untitled

11 weeks - last Saturday afternoon at Montrose Arts/Crafts Festival.
People continuously stopped us to admire her cuteness  :-)