we went to laguna beach over the long weekend to surprise the father-to-be (pictured below) for his 30th birthday. on our drive back, i suggested that we make a spontaneous trip to ikea to see what we could pick up for their nursery. i basically had a $100 budget to spruce up an otherwise barebones baby room. here are some picture (stolen pics from their blog)
they removed the sliding doors from their closet b/c it kept getting stuck. i made curtains using regular ikea fabric.
used the leftover fabric to cover the lazy-boy. also bought kid-friendly curtains and had a hell of a time connecting them to the now-defunct nasty vertical blinds.
bought greeting cards from target and put them in ikea frames. this is a super cheap way to display art.
these greeting cards are fuzzy and just a few bucks each.
we also made a few other things but i don't have pictures yet. until then...
at 9:16 PM
we've decided to throw a last-minute super tuesday party tonight and i find myself stressing about the menu again. my plan is to prepare a spread of home-style japanese food (stuffed cabbage rolls, yaikitori, agedashi tofu, kabocha, yakisoba, & make your own rolls). i'm also sick (skipped work) so i may just do indian take out as a back-up plan. :)
here's the spread from our holiday party:
it's not particularly pretty (it was for 50+ people after all) but since i know how stressful planning food for big parties can be, i thought i'd post some tips for an easy, affordable, yet delicious spread.
1) you should get everything from trader joe's and costco
2) don't make anything that is already good in a store brought/frozen version.
- hummus and pita chips
- fried dumplings
- egg rolls
- spinach dip
- chicken salad with pecans and cranberries
3) buy high quality cheeses and crackers
4) if you live in LA, buy cut up fruit from one of those mexican fruit carts. it will save you so much time and their selection is always fresh and cheap ($10 for a huge ass fruit salad)
5) veggie plates are rip offs. cut celery and place next to baby carrots and pearl tomatoes.
6) don't go crazy with desserts- guests will inevitably bring something. i only baked gingerbread cupcakes and bought costco cream puffs. people brought cookies, cakes, brownies, and truffles.
7) prepare 1 or 2 passed-tray items for when the party is at full-tilt (and people are less likely to go to the already crowded food table)
- proscuitto wrapped melon
- mini baked quiches (costco)
8) and most importantly: prepare 2 or 3 main-dish items that are finger friendly and hot throughout the night. crockpots are your friend.
- mix frozen meatballs, cranberry sauce (preferably fresh), jar of gravy in crockpot
mini pulled pork sandwiches (recipe)
- prepare with shredded cabbage + lemon juice and dinner rolls and have people assemble themselves with the meat from the crockpot
mini crabcake burgers (recipe)
- i have a small chafing dish (you must invest in one if you like to host) and placed the crab patties in here to keep warm. place next to pulled pork crockpot so that people can assemble with the available shredded cabbage and dinner rolls.
happy partying! here are some pictures (only of the living room area):
at 1:10 PM
i've been laptop-less for 2 months and patiently waited for apple's unveiling of their macbook airs yesterday. it's beautiful, but not fabulous enough to justify the cost; the macbook is simply a better and smarter deal. so i got one today and now i'm searching for a sleeve and/or a bag for this 13 incher.
here are some of etsy's offerings:
from working class heroes
hmmmm...they're okay but nothing to fall in love with. anybody have any good suggestions?
at 8:24 PM
so i checked my counter for the first time in several months and i see that i'm getting an insane number of hits...thanks to being linked on apartment therapy's kitchn.com. who knew?
i actually have a sorta-kinda food journal- it's mostly a place where i can store recipes that i like. http://dinnerjournal.blogspot.com
tonight i made pork cutlets with figs and balsamic vinegar and it was truly fabulous. i also made a salad with mixed greens, roasted tomatoes, marinated mozzarella, and dates- which was also quite wonderful. for you LA peeps, be sure to check out "farm boy"- it's like farmer's market meets korean grocery store prices. i had a hell of a time finding fresh figs (i even called a few middle eastern markets) and lo and beyond, farm boy came to the rescue.
ps: the holiday party was a smashing success. i think we'll have one every year.
at 9:29 PM
guestlist is now at 83 people. i think we're hoping around half will show up.
this could potentially be a major disaster. i don't even think 83 people can physically fit into our space. and i don't think i can humanly cook enough food for everyone. jesus, it's time to bust your fish and bread miracle, yo.
oh god, what have i started. i'm basically planning another wedding. oh, and invites went out today- i must say, i think they're pretty damn cute. :)
in other news, we switched around our bedroom and office and painted our new office a daring kelly green! it took nearly a year to convince my husband to do this and now that it's done, he can't stop talking about how much he loves the change. duh, of course! hehe. we also ordered a HUGE painting as an early christmas present to ourselves. hopefully, it'll get here before le partay.
at 8:16 PM
over dinner, the hubbie and i were commenting on how long it had been since we'd seen some of our friends. we decided to host a big christmas party before we leave for michigan and have a tentative guest list of at least 40 people. i don't know how all those people are going to fit into our tiny apartment, yikes. he had also commented how his parents would send out paper invites for their christmas party- and i said-- why not?! yay for snail mail! hehe, on our drive home, i started to yap about all the different foods i could make. yay, i love fun party food!
this is going to be quite the ambitious endeavor.
at 9:11 PM
i've been searching for a good 2008 wall calendar but i haven't found anything i like. i needed something with all the months on one page because i'm constantly referring to different dates throughout the year at work.
soooo... i made one! i used the free calendar download via blueprint magazine (thanks poppytalk!) and just cut and glued them onto some leftover wedding paper i had (from paper source). here are some pictures:
my shelf with things i love. i'm kind of known as a tea snob-nazi at my work. i'm realizing that all the tea i drink either comes out of imported tin cans or from asian grocery stores. that bowl is also LE perfect bowl, especially for quick microwave meals. the handle is wonderful and the bowl's material prevents it from getting too hot.
in other news, decor8 commented on my apartment post. she wrote "wow what an impressive space you occupy. fantastic!!!". so i didn't place with the apartment therapy contest but i think getting complimented by decor8 is even better- i don't even know how she found my puny site. yay.
at 5:48 PM
my favorite internet event is happening now! i <3 annual fall colors contest. i'm thinking of entering but i'm pretty intimidated by some of the awesome entries that have already been submitted. of course my goal would not be to win...i already know i'm a longshot. :) but still, it seems kind of fun to participate, so maybe i'll snap some pictures tomorrow. please vote for me! (if anyone still reads this, that is) here are a few pictures of my absolute favorite entry ever. 2nd place winner in the 2005 contest:
at 11:40 PM
dude, i totally forgot about this website's existence. i checked my counter for the first time in months and i discovered that this page has been written about and linked via other bloggers. it seems like a lot of readers come for wedding related reasons. dude, i can't believe my wedding continues to follow me an entire year later. we recently celebrated our 1st year anniversary with a fabulous 4 day trip to san diego. :) i freaking love married life!
since it seems like many of my readers come for wedding-related stuff, here's a post for y'alls. we recently went to one of my favorite weddings ever. why favorite? because in the midst of this crazy wedding bonanza of a summer, we attended a 50 person wedding that ended with a really chill cocktail hour-esque reception. no sit down dinner, no forced conversation, and people were free to mingle and drink like you were at a normal party. the couple had to work with a super tiny budget and they pulled it off fabulously at the uber-swank luxe hotel in bel air. they had heavy passed appetizers (which was basically a meal), a dessert bar, and open bar. this is definitely the way to go if you're on a tight budget.
check out the desserts, yo!
at 12:34 AM
we're heading out now for the best independence day party ever. one of my good friends lives in a swank downtown condo perched on a hill overlooking all of LA county. last 4th of july, we sat on her deck and witnessed literally hundreds of fireworks simultaneously bursting every second. it almost looked like a war scene with the entire sky lit up with bolts of light and color for hours. most of the fireworks were concentrated in east la...lots of illegal activity going on there.
i made festive panna cotta cups topped with strawberry coulis and fresh blueberries. dude, panna cotta is now my official go-to for potlucks. it's quick, easy, cheap, and is a veritable blank canvas for all things fruity and creative. matcha green tea panna cotta for st. patrick's day, kabocha pumpkin panna cotta for thanksgiving, peppermint and chocolate for christmas, the possibilities are endless. i better buy these plastic cups in bulk. :)
also displayed is my object of kitchen obsession: the dean and deluca spice rack (plus mariage freres tea, yum). this was the first item on our wedding registry, the absolute sexiest spice rack. hehehe.
at 3:33 PM
help! i'm hopelessly addicted to trader joe's matcha green tea yogurt! my handle (greengelato) actually refers to all things cold and green tea. trader joe's is notorious for discontinuing their products; i will be forever sad when and if this item falls victim to the thieving ways of traitor joe.
at 4:19 PM
2) i earn about $1 a week on this thing via adsense. sah-weet. that means i can earn money by blogging about food, which will then enable me to buy more food...like this:
3) this green tea parfait has to be LE PERFECT FOOD and basically encapsulates everything i adore about good cuisine: green tea ice cream, mochi, cake, red bean paste, and green tea pudding. kill me now please.
4) i am going to see placido domingo at the bowl tomorrow followed by dessert and drinks at yamashiro. they should have a dessert like this, no?
at 3:02 AM
i had a sneak peak of red mango yogurt today in their corporate office in culver city. like pinkberry, they have a plain and green tea flavor coupled with an assortment of dry and fresh fruit toppings. red mango is the original gangster of "italian" frozen yogurt- first founded in korea and now copycatted by the notorious pinkberry here in los angeles. all my friends who have tried both red mango korea and pinkberry have preferred the former, so we were all ecstatic to discover that red mango was going to open stores in los angeles.
i brought along 3 fellow pinkberry fans to the taste testing today. we tried both flavors while red mango president, dan kim, waxed poetic about the virtues of their product. apparently, because the korean version is so similar to pinkberry, they changed the american version to simulate more of an authentic yogurt experience. that's right, red mango somehow made pinkberry's frozen yogurt taste even more yogurty. whether that's a good or bad thing is up to the taster, i guess. i personally prefer the "crunch" texture of pinkberry, and apparently, it's due to the higher water content. i was pretty disappointed that they changed the original korean recipe since it's supposedly better, but i guess they figured that they wanted to take a different strategy since pinkberry has already captured so much of the market.
the green tea flavor, however, was much better, eons superior, to that of pinkberry's medicinal green tea concoction. this was immediately obvious to all of us as we took our first spoonful. i might even prefer red mango's green tea version to that of pinkberry's regular. however, if i want a cold green tea dessert, i will always prefer maeda-en or ciao bella green tea gelato.
pricing is about the same, though you are not psychologically finagled into buying a medium + 3 toppings. small is 2.50, medium 3.50, toppings are $1 for first and 25 cents thereafter.
red mango's marketed as being the "healthier" yogurt. it has more yogurt cultures and less calories (about 40 per serving). it's also going to be served in a more coffeehouse atmosphere (they hired coffeebean's designers) rather than the mini-MOMAs of pinkberry and its imposters. (btw: some of the pinkberry design replications are assaultive to the eyes). is this enough to give red mango a competitive edge? i don't think so. if i want a heatlhy yogurt fix, i'll buy dannon for 50 cents. a difference in 40 calories and some yogurt cultures isn't enough to make me a red mango groupie.
ultimately, it will come down to...parking. whichever store has better parking options wherever i happen to be in the city wins. if both are equal, i will probably choose pinkberry.
oh and the most important fact of all: red mango doesn't have mochi!!!!!!!!
if you're a blogger and want to try red mango, email Elizabeth@redmangousa.com. their westwood store is opening at the end of the month.
ps- in other news, my dad is teaching math to the police officers of the jail paris hilton is staying at. should i ask him to get an autographed black and white striped jumper? an autographed ball and chain?
at 5:06 PM
i just got this $35 print for free via thumbtackpress.com by advertising on my blog for 3 months. woohoo, who new blogging about art and design could have such fun perks. thumbtack press is seriously THE best place to buy prints online. this piece friggin cracks me up everytime i look at it. it's by gianluca foli and titled "kuma dansu".
i also recently acquired two paintings! i fell in love with vietnamese art while gallery hopping in hong kong several years ago. i couldn't find any prints that i liked but i did discover a company in hanoi that internationally ships artist reproductions. this kind of stuff is REALLY common; there are entire areas in indonesia and vietnam devoted to repros of famous paintings (i bought one in indonesia). if you want the company info, let me know (margaretlee (at) gmail.com). these paintings were $60/$45 which is really a preposterous deal. here are the paintings in my apartment element:
two musicians by nguyen thanh binh
(i am obsessed with this dining set. a fantastic craigslist find from a woman who collects mid-century furniture from estate sales. i <3 vintage walnut furniture)
fishing season by dao hai phong
(this is the most comfortable sofa-bed in the world...from crate and barrel. i'm not a huge fan of the design but it sits in my husband's office/ guestroom)
at 2:13 PM
i hosted a bridal shower for my dear friend this past saturday. i’m her MATRON of honor (i still can’t get over the whole “matron” thing) and had a blast putting together the party with the other bridesmaids. we held a brunch, in honor of the bride’s love for breakfast foods, in a gazebo located in my apartment complex. it was my first time throwing a shower- it was A LOT of work (i basically pulled an all-nighter making all the desserts) but totally worth it! i’m not really a pink girl, but even i wasn’t overloaded by all the pink. ☺
we toasted and cheered the bride's entrance
the gazebo in action
a close-up of the tissue pomanders. they made such a difference in the party ambience despite their time-consuming creation. these are basically a huge version of the tissue flowers i made (though i didn’t make these).
the menu: swiss and mushroom quiche, spinach and jack cheese quiche, scrambled eggs, sausages, mini cream cheese and lox bagels, mini cranberry tuna melts, two fruit platters, berry parfaits, white chocolate raspberry chocolate cupcakes, green tea cheesecakes, french vanilla panna cotta with mango coulis, and cinnamon streusels
hehe, here’s my husband briefly crashing the party for some food. the gazebo is actually about a 5 minute walk from our apartment, so he helped transport some of the heavy items.
harney and sons wedding tea! i bought this in new york 4 months ago for this specific purpose.
i’ve always wanted to make these little food flags at dinner parties but i knew at least half the guests (ahem, the boys) wouldn’t appreciate them. they were really easy to make!
this chafing dish comes in super handy! SO worth the investment!
these plastic wine glasses were 50 cents each! i should've bought real glass ones from the 99 cent store.
pink drinks, of course!
place settings- with my favorite anthropologie napkins!
one of the bridesmaids bought all the flowers at the downtown flower mart and did an amazing job of arranging them. the vases are actually leftover ones from my bridal shower last year!
one of the bridesmaids bought this tablecloth at the FIDM scholarship store for $1 a yard! it was actually my favorite element of the shower. :)
the favors. the boxes contained thong underwears and the sugar cups contain japanese milkys candies. we had a fun time showing off our cute (and a few really trashy) thongs. wish i had some pictures of them!
here’s my present that i wrapped. halfway through the flowers, i totally regretted making them since the small flowers are hard on your hands, but it was worth it in the end- we used the flowers for her rehearsal bouquet.
the bride and i. we told her to put the wrapping on her head.
with her rehearsal bouquet
bridal party photo (minus one bridesmaid).
having fun with the pomanders.
at 1:12 AM