Thursday, September 22, 2011

Recent goings-on

Let's get right to it!

That trip I took to Maine with Rad Boyfriend? AWESOME. We arrived in Boston late Friday night and I promptly came down with the worst case of... uh... stomach problems I've ever had. (I blame the airport Chinese food I ate in Newark. I always blame New Jersey.) Things cleared up (for the most part) on Saturday for the wedding of our awesome friends, Nick and Liz. Great times were had by all!

Sunday morning we took a bus up to Augusta, Maine where we rented a car and drove the rest of the way to Bangor. LONG RIDE, people. Not short. But definitely fun =)

Our week in Maine was.... wow. We had such a great time. I would post photos, but alas, they are not on the computer which I am currently using. I can't even begin to describe how beautiful Maine is. Mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, views as far as the eye can see. I don't think I've been anywhere more scenic since... well maybe ever!

We swam, we hiked, we ate delicious delicious lobster, we gift-shopped, we slept, we ate a lot more than lobster, we drank and then we slept some more. I rode a tractor, watched pigs eat RB's boots, walked dogs, chased chickens, kissed a Flemish giant, and tried my hardest not to make a fainting goat actually faint. (We were told by RB's parents that such activity was strictly prohibited. Despite the fact that they have A FAINTING GOAT! I know, right?)

And that's pretty much how I spent my vacation. Good times. Now back to real life, aka decorating our apartment and cooking up a storm. Oh, and we recently purchased one of these because we're getting one of these!!


Monday, August 8, 2011

A proper New England vacation

Next weekend I have the honor of attending what will surely go down in history as the most wicked awesome wedding there ever was. Here's why: for one, it's my good friends Liz and Nick who are getting married and they are perhaps the most wicked awesome couple I know. For another, the wedding is taking place outside of Boston, so I know that the swordfish I've pre-selected for my meal will be fantastic. And lastly, both the bride and groom have phenomenal taste in music and friends, which pretty much guarantees that this wedding will be both wicked and awesome. And here's where the reception is taking place:

If this isn't the cutest venue for a Massachusetts wedding, I don't know what is.

 After the nuptials, Rad Boyfriend and I will be heading north--to Maine!

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Acadia National Park

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but RB is from Maine. I've heard Maine is absolutely gorgeous in the summertime and I am so excited to finally get to see it--with a proper tour guide!

Our short list of things to do includes: hiking, swimming, playing with the animals on his parents' farm, and visiting Bar Harbor.

Oh, and I fully plan on gorging myself on about 10 of these:

Can you say delicious lobster roll? I can. And I've been practicing calling it a "lobstah roll" so that I can properly order one embarrass RB when we finally sit down to eat one.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wherein I rant about something that is supposed to be perfect

I know that it's probably very hot where you are right now. (Unless you live in the Southern hemisphere of our awesome planet, in which case it's winter for you.) And I understand that I live in what most people refer to as the ideal climate: almost never goes below 50, rarely goes above 90, rarely rains, never snows. It's objectively Paradise, I get it.

Only I don't see it that way. And for one very specific reason: I miss summer. I miss it with every fiber of my being. Sure it's technically summer; it is, after all, July. But it sure as hell doesn't feel like summer.

To me, summer means heat. It means getting to wear shorts and dresses and flip-flops for months at a time. It means hanging out on the patio until 11:00 PM in a tank top. It means going to the beach and taking a swim to beat the heat and actually finding it refreshing.

But here in San Diego (at least near the coast), I can't remember the last time I wore a sundress without a sweater. The last time I BBQ'ed, it was in jeans and a  hooded sweatshirt. I stuck my feet in the pool the other day and walked right over the hot tub and turned it on. The last time I was at the beach, I couldn't get close enough to the bonfire because I was FREEZING. I made chili the other week, for god's sake! CHILI! IN A CROCK POT! Which I left on all day while I was at work and the house wasn't even hot when I got home!

Mother nature, his is unacceptable. Please. For the love of this East Coaster who grew up frying eggs on sidewalks and rigging the A/C so that it would cool the whole house instead of just one room, PLEASE bless me with some heat! Just a few weeks of temps over 80 degrees, that's all I ask. I'll even take one week of 90-degree weather. I don't even need it to be that hot at the beach! I just want to swim in my pool without immediately jumping out because it's too cold.... is that too much to ask?

=( Summer, why have you forgotten me?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My foray into prescription drugs: UPDATE

If I had written this post yesterday, it would have been riddled with phrases like "crazypants" and "not in control of my emotions" and "I hate hormones RAAWWRRR!!" But since I am writing this post today--which happens to be a good day, a day on which I do not feel crazy or out of control--it will contain phrases such as "emotional" and "mildly irrational" and "I strongly dislike hormones, ugh."

I started taking a new, low-dose birth control pill on Monday and it KICKED. MY. ASS. I was so tired at work on Tuesday and Wednesday that I actually drew the shades and tried to take a nap at my desk yesterday during lunch. (That was most definitely a first.) Caffeine didn't do anything but give me a nasty sugar crash, and so I felt like utter crap the entire day. Alternatively, in the late night hours after I took the first two pills, I laid awake in bed, wound up and unable to fall asleep, my heart pounding in my chest. It wouldn't have taken a genius to figure out that I should take the pills in the morning instead of at night, but of course Rad Boyfriend was the first one to make that suggestion.

Well, that's exactly what I did this morning and guess what: I feel fantastic. I have energy, I'm in a great mood, and I don't feel like I want to hit anyone over the head with a book or take a nap. And about that hitting thing..."irrational" isn't a strong enough word for how I felt yesterday. "Filled with rage and wrath" might work, but with a bit of "angst and torment" thrown in. There was anger, there were tears, and I may have flipped my boss off behind his back. May have. I don't recall. In any event, I was hating on hormones hardcore yesterday. Today I'm okay with them.

As for the Ativan, that's working out quite nicely. So far it's doing what it's supposed to--relax me--without any gnarly side effects. It's such a low dose that I can take it at work, but the drowsiness is work-prohibitive. So I think i'll be saving it for airplane rides and nights when I can't sleep.

On a completely unrelated side note, I have a funny story for you guys:

I went outlet shopping the other weekend with my friend Erin and bought a dress from Banana Republic on clearance. It's bright orange and has a collar and a belt and is really cute. Since the weather here in San Diego has been hovering around 73 degrees (with indoor office temperatures of about 65) I hadn't really had an opportunity to wear the dress comfortably. That is, until Tuesday. My boss was out of the office and thus the air conditioner wasn't set to CUT GLASS, so I wore the dress. I thought I looked all cute with my brown wedges, bracelet and new haircut; I even posted something on Facebook about how I was "working it!" Around noon, I jumped at the opportunity to drop a file off downtown for my boss because yay for showing off my outfit, right?

So as I was walking to my car, one of my sandals started to feel very loose. Just as I looked down to investigate, BAM. The strap broke. I lost my balance, dropped the file I was holding, and nearly fell into a fence while trying to keep the skirt part of my dress from flying up. All while the owner of said fence was on his front porch watering his flowers.

So much for working it, right? Such is my life...

I tried searching for the dress I bought so I could post a picture, but could not find it. I did, however, find these ensembles and now want to wear orange and turquoise to my friend Liz's wedding in August.

Le swoon!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My foray into prescription drugs

Last we spoke, I was having some angst over hormonal birth control. I'm happy to report that the mood swings and bitchiness got much better as the month went on, but the anxiety did not. And most recently I had breakdown one day after work over my forgetfulness/penchant for not paying attention. This prompted me to make an appointment with my doctor to talk about why the eff I walk into the bedroom with water glasses when the water cooler is in Rad Boyfriend's office FIVE TIMES PER DAY. (Also why I leave the oven on, the garage door open, why I ask the same question 3 times, and why I continue to mess shit up at work.) 

I had my doctor's appointment this morning. I explained my WTF-behavior and my doctor listened patiently. I told him that my said WTF-behavior has gotten to a point where it's affecting my everyday life and that it's time something be done about it. He asked me some questions and we chatted about what might be going on. We both agreed that these were more attention-related than forgetfulness-related, and he thus signed me up to speak to a psychiatrist to be tested for ADD. 

AWESOME. I might have adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I'll let you know how that turns out. 

But in the meantime, I done got myself a prescription for Ativan. Because the constant anxiety over effing up at work is starting to take its toll. I find myself checking and rechecking documents, second-guessing my work, asking my boss the same question three times to make sure I've covered everything. And it's starting to make me look incompetent. (Not that I think I am at all competent to run a law office, but I was faking it pretty well there for a while!) 

So now I have some anti-anxiety meds that are to be taken strictly AS NEEDED! Both my doc and the pharmacist couldn't stress this enough. Those words, along with "habit-forming" and "pill-reliant" were thrown around several times this morning. I am to take them only when I feel very, extremely, super anxious. Umm... have you met me? I'm pretty much a walking ball of anxiety. 

But alas. I must heed my doctor's advice. I know he's right, and I'm sure the pharmacist has seen her share of Ativan-poppers hounding her staff for refills that don't exist. I do not want to become one of those people. And so I've promised myself to only take them when I'm so stressed out that I can't think straight. Or when I fly. Because, really, why suffer in an economy class middle seat from California to New Jersey when you could drift off peacefully into a dream where your seat is in First Class and the flight attendants are all Alexander Skarsgard.....

Ahem. Pardon my digression. Stay tuned for the next Medication Update....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy Chicken Parmigiana

You may think that making anything you have to cook twice would be complicated, and I can't blame you for that. I mean, just look up "Chicken parmigiana" on the interwebs; you'll immediately get 10 recipes that have 20 ingredients and take 90 minutes to make. Who has time for that?!

So here is my easy, quick and down-right delicious recipe for chicken parm. Rad Boyfriend called it the best chicken parm he'd ever eaten, including in fancy restaurants. Clearly he doesn't have an Italian grandmother, but I didn't mention that to him. Instead I said, "I know, isn't it really good?!" I'm so modest.

Step One: 
Beat the meat. You heard me. Procure 4-6 large chicken breasts, wash them, trim the fat, and put them in a plastic bag or under plastic wrap. Then beat the hell out of them with a mallet. (It's fun, trust me.) I suggest doing this atop a wooden cutting board as opposed to a plastic one. Then cut the cutlets down to a more manageable size. Thin chicken is the key to a flavorful dish, so don't skimp on the beating!

Step Two:
Get a small bowl and three large plates. (I prefer paper plates, as I hate doing dishes.) Coat the bottom of the first plate with a mixture of flour, salt and pepper. In the bowl, beat two eggs with a bit of water; this is called an egg wash. In the second paper plate, mix together some seasoned breadcrumbs, chopped fresh parsley, and a generous amount of finely grated Parmesan cheese. DO NOT SKIP THE PARMESAN! This is the secret ingredient. Remember the title of the dish we're making!

Step Three: 
Dip each chicken breast into the flour, then the egg wash, then the breadcrumb and Parmesan mixture. Set aside on the third plate.

Step Four: 
Pour a generous amount of olive oil into a large frying pan. Heat until hot, then throw in about a tablespoon of butter. Trust me, this makes the chicken golden and crispy. Place the chicken in the pan and throw some salt and pepper on top. Cook for 3-4 minutes and repeat on other side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Here's where I reveal a dirty little secret about my favorite salty seasoning. I do love me some Lawry's, but this here holds a special place in my heart:

My family has been cooking with Vegeta since I was born, despite the fact that (GASP!) it's chock full of MSG. Yup, you heard me: I eat MSG. And since I've been eating it since I was a wee lass, it's probably shaved several years off my life. (Extra points if you know what's going on here.)

Step Five: 
Moving on...

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Bring a big pot of water to boil for spaghetti. (Did I mention we're eating pasta with this meal? We're eating pasta.) 
  • Chop some fresh basil. 
  • Open a jar of tomato sauce. (Making your own is not that hard, but the goal here is quick and easy. My favorite jarred sauce is Trader Joe's Tomato Basil.) 
  • Either in a bowl or right in the jar, mix the fresh basil into the sauce. Trust me, basil makes the dish so much more flavorful.
Step Six:
Pour enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom of a glass baking dish, up to 1/2 inch of sauce. Leave enough sauce for pasta. Put one (and ONLY one) layer of chicken on top of the sauce. Cut big, thick slices of fresh mozzarella and lay them on top of the chicken.

Step Seven:
Put the dish in the oven on 350 for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the sauce is bubbling. Remove and serve over spaghetti.

Suggestions for side dishes: garlic bread and salad.


Easy Chicken Parmigiana Recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings 4
4-6 chicken breasts
2 eggs
2 tbsp. water
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping)
2 sprigs fresh parsley
6 leaves fresh basil
1 jar tomato sauce (extra if you like lots of sauce on your pasta)
4-6 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
Olive oil for frying
1 tbsp butter
1 lb spaghetti (or less, depending on how much pasta you want)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Wash the chicken breasts and trim the fat.
  3. Place 2 at a time in a plastic bag or under plastic wrap. Beat with kitchen mallet until thin, or each breast is about double in width/length. Cut to desired size.
  4. Place the flour in flat plate, mix with salt and pepper. Beat eggs and water until frothy in bowl. Mix seasoned breadcrumbs, fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese together in separate plate.
  5. Dip chicken breasts first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese mixture. Set aside.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to boil for spaghetti.
  7. Coat frying pan with generous amount of olive oil and heat. Once hot, add butter. 
  8. Fry chicken 3-4 minutes on one side, sprinkle with salt and pepper before turning over. Repeat on other side. 
  9. Chop the basil. Either in a bowl or in the jar, mix the basil into the sauce. 
  10. Coat 11x17 (or smaller, whatever fits 6 large breasts) glass baking dish with 1/2 inch of tomato sauce. Leave extra sauce for pasta.
  11. Place chicken on sauce.
  12. Place one heaping slice of mozzarella cheese on each chicken breast. 
  13. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 
  14. Cook spaghetti to desired consistency. 
  15. Remove chicken from oven and serve over spaghetti. Pour extra sauce and cheese on dish as desired. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The last birthday of my 20's and some TMI (WARNING! GIRL STUFF WITHIN!)

[Most of this post was written last week, before my birthday. I've since edited it.]

It was my birthday on Sunday--the big 2-9. The last one I'll ever have before turning thirty. And for once, I didn't have an had only a minor anxiety attack over getting a year older. In fact, I handled this birthday a lot better than I've handled almost every other birthday in my twenties.Go figure!

As I sat down to write this post, I tried to figure out why I was so much less stressed about this June 19th. Is it because I'm finally at a place in my life where I feel comfortable with myself? Is it because I have such a rad boyfriend and awesome friends and supportive family and spent my birthday at the fair where games were played, competitions were won, fried food was eaten and babies were held? Yes. Yes to all of that.(Baby Scent might be my favorite smell in the world, by the way.)

But also (and this is the TMI part, you've been warned!) I think it has something to do with the fact that I recently stopped taking a certain mediation. A medication that is supposed to prevent a thing called BABIES. No, I'm not with child, and no I'm not "trying." (Despite that thing I said about Baby Scent. Mmm babies...) I stopped taking anti-baby pills because they were making me crazy. Literally. The following is a first-hand account of how birth control has messed with my head so badly that the thought of being back on it scares the shit out of me.

Last year I started seeing an awesome doctor who discussed many different birth control options with me. I decided to try one called Seasonique, the one that's supposed to allow Mother Nature to come a callin' only 4 times per year, because hey... who likes periods EVERY month? But in order to effectuate that process, the pills release an incredibly high dose of hormones into your system--a level I apparently could not handle. They made me absolutely crazy. And I don't just mean emotional, I mean irrational and out of control. I would get angry at friends who didn't tag me Facebook photos. I left stores because I couldn't handle interacting with people or because I got fed up with perky saleswomen following me around and asking if I needed help. I once found myself driving home from work, stopped at a stop sign, tears streaming down my face and pounding my fists against the steering wheel because a pedestrian was crossing the street and I had to wait. See? CRAZY!!

The night of that incident with the pedestrian, I left my doctor the first of two voicemails telling her that I was feeling unbelievably depressed and out of control and that I wanted off the pills NOW. I asked her to please write me a prescription for the birth control I'd taken in my early twenties, a low dose of the tried and true Ortho Tri Cyclen. I started taking Ortho the following month and everything went back to normal. The mood swings stopped, the anger faded, and I was me again. I still had pretty consistent changes in mood and got overly emotional and sensitive, but it was ten times better than the hell I'd gone through with Seasonique.

Fast forward to about a year later. Time to see my awesome doctor again for my yearly check-up. I'd gotten fed up with remembering to take the pill every day and wanted to try something I didn't have to worry about. I had heard rave reviews about the Nuva Ring from several friends and thought, hey. Why not? I'll try that. And so I did. My doctor gave me two free samples on the spot.

So I tried the ring and everything was going great. I was keeping a careful eye on my moods and sleeping habits, watching out for the wild mood swings and deep depression I'd had while on Seasonique. No symptoms like last time. I was doing great... at least I thought I was.

One day, about a 6 weeks after I'd started the Ring, I was in a pretty foul mood. It was the second or third day I'd felt this way, but I attributed it to PMS or just a bad week at work. Then my roommate asked me how the Ring was working out. Was I feeling ok? Was I experiencing the same symptoms as last time? Was it making me crazy? I started to answer that I was fine, that I wasn't feeling anything NEARLY as awful as I'd felt on Seasonique. But then I stopped and thought for a few minutes. Why was she asking me this question with such a concerned look on her face? Had I changed? I was feeling awfully depressed. I hadn't been in a very good mood for over a week. I was hungry ALL the time and gaining weight. I'd been going to bed at 9:30 most nights. Something was definitely not right.

After some internet research on the side effects of the Ring, I decided to stop using it. The depression, along with some other gross side effects I won't go into, outweighed the convenience factor for me. So I finished out the month and stopped taking birth control completely. I was so paranoid about what the hormones were doing to me that I didn't even want to go back on the Ortho.

That was in April. It's now almost July and I feel absolutely fantastic. Better, in fact, than I've felt in years. No hormones, no pills, and no crazy. I can't remember the last time I overreacted to a situation or felt too depressed to get out of bed. And I just moved in with my boyfriend! You'd think that if something was truly not right with my brain parts, moving in together would have triggered some sort of wild reaction. But nope! I've had one panic attack over a couch, and nothing since.*

*This last paragraph and everything before it was written last week. It was before I'd started taking a new birth control called Tri-Sprintec, a generic version of Ortho-Tri-Cyclen. I took the first pill on Sunday night and woke up the next morning and almost vomited. The nausea was so bad I actually skipped work. I spent most of the morning in bed feeling like I was going to die, while Rad Boyfriend hugged me and brought me water and looked at me with his big eyes and said, "I hate that the pill is doing this to you."

I hate it, too. I've only been on it for 4 days and I'm already starting to feel the side effects. Or at least I've got it in my head that I'm feeling side effects. Why else would I slam doors and cry for no reason? Why else is my first reaction to an invitation to an event sheer anxiety?

Here's another good question: Why did I start taking oral contraception again? If all I do all day is think about how much I resent being on it, if it makes me so damn miserable, why do I do it to myself?

Because I'm now living with my boyfriend and it's the responsible thing to do. That's all I got. It's the adult thing to take a pill to make sex more convenient despite the fact that it's killing me inside.

Does that make ANY sort of sense to you? 

It sure doesn't to me. Which is why I made a deal with myself this time. First, I'm waiting on a call back from my doctor to discuss a low-dose version of the stuff I'm on now. Secondly, despite the outcome of that phone call, I'm giving this jagged wretched little pill exactly one month. And at the end of that month, I'm going to sit down and take a good, hard look at Danielle and her behavior for the past 28 days.That will determine whether or not I continue on any kind of hormonal birth control. If I don't feel like "me," if I'm crying because I burnt dinner or because Ikea refuses to restock the pillow I want, I'm done. No one should have to deal with not being in control of their emotions as a side effect of birth control. No one should be depressed and anxious and feel uncomfortable all the time in exchange for a spontaneous sex life.There are other options. And maybe it's time for me to explore them more thoroughly than a WebMD page.

End TMI.

Here's a picture of a wiener dog to make you smile after this horribly depressing post:

Monday, June 6, 2011

So I moved again

This time, in with the Rad Boyfriend. We are officially living in sin! Woohoo!

To say that life has been hectic lately is an understatement. Work has been absolutely crazy, I've been taking on some other side projects, and moving is..... oh how can I describe moving.... painful (both physically and mentally), time-consuming, and extremely stressful. Do you know that I had a panic attack over a couch two weeks ago? A COUCH! I managed to get myself worked up over an inanimate piece of furniture to the point where I had to please ask Rad Boyfriend to stop talking about the couch. ME. Asking my boyfriend to stop talking about interior design! 


You see, all we'd been doing for 10 days was talk about the couch. It wasn't choosing a couch that make me batty; that part was actually the easiest decision we made: we walked into Ikea and liked the very first one we sat on. Done and DONE. But then came choosing the fabric, aka the pre-made slipcovers that come in 7 different colors and textures and sizes. The fabric that makes you want to pull your hair out when you realize the kind you want is only available for the sofa and not for the chaise you want. THAT FABRIC. 

Internet, you should know something: IKEA LIES. Just because their website says they have something in their store does not make it true. No Ikea from San Diego to Tempe, Arizona has the particular cover for the chaise we wanted. said they had it in Costa Mesa, but they didn't. Then we called a friend who lives in Tucson, who just happened to be driving to Tempe for the weekend, to ask him if he could check the Ikea out there, because the website said they they had it. He called us from the store all, "They have it! Want me to buy it?" To which we responded, "Hell to the yes! We'll pay anything if you can ship it to us!" Immediately following this phone call, and armed with the knowledge that we could get the sofa AND the chaise we wanted in the FABRIC we wanted, we went to our local Ikea. We ordered the sofa, the sofa cover, and the chaise from the helpful salesperson up on the display floor. We went down to the "pick up your stuff here" area, and after Rad Boyfriend's head nearly exploded after a difficult conversation with another salesperson, we got everything we needed. SUCCESS! 

But then.... then. Then we got a phone call from our friend in Tempe who was still at Ikea. He informed us that they did not in fact have the chaise cover we wanted. Our reactions went something like this: 


Are f*cking kidding me?



Assurance that this fabric is a new item and Ikea will be getting a new shipment shortly. 


So. Now we have a couch in the upholstery we wanted, and a naked chaise lounge attachment thing in a box waiting for its cover. Not that it matters, as we still have a lot of decorating and purchasing to do, and a half-couch is not the biggest of our concerns. What matters is that we have someplace to sit and watch TV. 

So that's the story of the couch that gave me a panic attack. Now let's talk about how the blinds in our east-facing bedroom don't work, causing the sun to shine in at 5:30 every morning (and possibly allowing some neighbors to see me in my birthday suit, not that I really care). 

But I digress. I love our new apartment. I love my walk-in closet, I love the pool and the hot tub and the gated parking and the price of our rent. I'm sure we'll eventually get all the bugs worked, and I'm sure it'll feel more like a home with every personal touch we add.

And you know what I love most about my home? Who I share it with. All the stress and back pain I went through these past few weeks? TOTALLY. WORTH IT =)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Monday shuffle (and a fantastic website I just discovered)

There really should be a song with that title. That [the] Mamas and the Papas song doesn't really do justice to how dull and pedantic Mondays are. Are everyone else's Mondays filled with such hate and general dragging of the feet? Are there people out there who actually enjoy their Mondays? If so, can I do what they do?

My usual Monday:
  • Wake up cranky and in a bad mood. Spill my coffee, forget my breakfast at home, yell at someone who hasn't realized the light has turned green. Maybe chuckle at a morning radio show bit. 
  • Get to work at 8:30, spend a half hour ignoring my Outlook inbox in lieu of reddit, Pinterest (more on this fabulous site later) and Facebook.
  • Have a meeting wherein we follow up on everything we did last week, dwell on all the things we didn't do, then make promises about all the things we'll do this week.
  • Sluggishly see to things requiring my immediate attention. 
  • Go home for lunch and debate going back to work. 
  • Begrudgingly go back to work, spend another half hour on the internet, then sign off of everything that will distract me. Actually get some work done. 
  • Watch the clock count down to 5:00. Decide my workday is done, but decline to sit in traffic only to make myself angrier. Spend 30 minutes filing, organizing my desk, and making up for all that time I spent on the internet earlier in the day.
  • Sit in traffic, despite my best efforts to avoid it. 
  • Go grocery or Target shopping. 
  • Go home, take pants off. If it's after 7:00, I immediately make myself a cocktail while I cook dinner. If it's before 7:00, I take my pants off and lay in bed until it's time for a cocktail.
The remainder of my recent evenings have tended to involve old episodes of Twin Peaks (holy creepiness, David Lynch... your mind is a maze full of bonkers) and the aforementioned website Pinterest.

About Pinterest: If you love design and fashion and cooking and DIY projects and furniture and anything remotely creative, you will absolutely love this website. It's a site where members submit links of design ideas, photos, artwork, Etsy products, cooking blogs, everything creative on the internet. Then other members can "pin" those ideas to their own "boards." It's kind of like a virtual bulletin board or clipboard. Just to give you a taste of what it's about, here is a link to my Fashion board and one to my Home style board.

Screenshot of my Fashion board

I use Pinterest as a way to keep track of recipes I want to try, books I want to read, and ideas for home design and fashion by "pinning" links and photos of these things to my boards. You can create as many boards as you want for anything you find on the site: artwork, photography, inspirational quotations, wedding ideas, etc. I implore any fellow design-aholics to check this site out!

Alright, gang. The time is now 1:26 on Monday afternoon. I've spent a good portion of my lunch hour writing this blog post, and thus I must eat my lunch at my desk instead of going home and browsing Pinterest. Le sigh.

Happy Monday shuffle, y'all!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The most amazing stuffed mushrooms ever

One of my favorite cooking activities is to perfect a recipe that I've tried making several times, but can't get quite right. [See: every attempt at garlic bread I've ever made, ever.]

My most recent project was stuffed mushrooms. I tried a recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs and it came out just.... blah. The flavor was off, it tasted bland, and I wasn't impressed. I tried it again over Christmas, this time with my own variations, and holy wow... those suckers were freaking fantastic! I made them again for a family get-together at home of Rad Boyfriend's Dad and they were ever better than last time. I impressed even myself, which is pretty difficult to do. Here's the recipe, if anyone is interested in the most fantastic stuffed mushrooms ever. Note: it looks long and complicated, but it's not. I just like giving detailed directions =)  

Goat Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms 
24 oz. (3 packages) white mushrooms 
10 oz. goat cheese 
2-3 oz.cream cheese
(or 12 oz. goat cheese and no cream cheese) 
2-3 oz. Parmesan cheese, plus extra for topping 
1 egg 
3/4 lb. bacon, diced
2 large shallots, finely diced  
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced or zested 
3 tbsp. of finely chopped fresh parsley 
olive oil to grease the baking sheets
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the egg and all of the cheeses from the fridge and let sit for 20-30 minutes. 
  2. Rinse the mushrooms and pat them dry. Remove the stems and set them aside. Carve out the inside of the mushrooms with a butter knife to make room for the stuffing. Discard the insides. Finely chop about 2/3 of the mushrooms stems and set aside. Discard the rest.
  3. Stack 3 slices of bacon at a time and trim the fat. Cut the bacon into small pieces. Repeat until all of the bacon is chopped. Set aside. 
  4. Finely dice the shallots and set aside.
  5. Cook the bacon in an un-greased frying pan until it just starts to turn brown. Don't let it get too crispy, as the texture won't meld with the rest of the stuffing. 
  6. Remove the bacon from the frying pan using a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan. 
  7. Throw the shallots in the bacon grease and cook on medium-high for about 3 minutes, or until they start to turn clear. Add the chopped mushroom stems and stir until the mushrooms start to soften and turn brown. 
  8. Zest 3 gloves of garlic into the frying pan and stir for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is soft. (You can also finely dice the garlic instead of zesting it.) 
  9. Empty the entire contents of the frying pan into a medium-sized bowl, grease and all. Stir in the softened goat cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and egg. Add the bacon and stir. *If the mixture is too salty for your taste, add some more goat cheese or cream cheese to cut the salt.
  10. Add the parsley at the very end and stir. 
  11. Generously fill each mushroom top with a tablespoon.*There will likely be some leftover stuffing. The amount left over will depend on how deep you carve out the mushrooms. You can fill as many mushrooms as you have with the leftover stuffing, or fill one giant Portobello mushroom with the remainder. 
  12. Grease 2 baking sheets with olive oil. 
  13. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the greased baking sheets and generously sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. 
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, or until the desired consistency of the Parmesan cheese topping is reached. Some people like it to be crispy, other like it melty. For crispy tops, turn the broiler on for 2-3 minutes or until the tops are brown.
    *Another way to achieve a little crispiness is to add panko breadcrumbs to the stuffing mixture. I would recommend about 1/2 cup. Follow the rest of the recipe as written, then make sure to turn the broiler on for 2-3 minutes for a crispy top.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Things things things!

Why hello there, Internet! It's been a while, hasn't it?

There are THINGS! going on over here in The City of Awesome, THINGS! that shouldn't be discussed in such a public forum, other THINGS! that are still too premature to even be considered THINGS! No, I'm not with child, and no, I'm not getting married. These are THINGS! that have to do with work and family, aka stuff that shouldn't be broadcast on the internet. I know, I know, BORING. But such is my life =)

What I can discuss is the fact that the Rad Boyfriend and I are moving in together in June! We decided to do this a long time ago, but now that it's almost April (holy crap, where did the time go?) and we'll start to look for apartments soon, I figured it was a good time to let the cat out of the bag.* What does this mean for our relationship? Having all of our contact lens cases and toothbrushes in one place. Also, lots and lots of home cooked meals. You should see Rad Boyfriend in an apron... ;-)

I will eventually explain these other THINGS! to which I allude, but not yet. Certain other, smaller things must happen before these more important THINGS! can be discussed. And that's all I have to say about that.

In the meantime, be well! Be healthy! Love each other, and most importantly, be happy!

*Speaking of cats, we may or may not be adopting one. I really, really want a kitteh, and I know RB does, too. But right now, our priority is finding a livable dwelling out of which he can work and I will get plenty of sunlight. If that place happens to allow cats, fantastic! If not, we'll just have to wait until the next place. And mark my words, that next place will absolutely, positively allow these little guys.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vacation: putting some Spring in your Palm

Let's hear it for vacation hair! And vacation appetite! And vacation.... well.... let me stop there.

Needless to say, Palm Springs was a blast. The Rad Boyfriend and I had a really really REALLY good time over the long weekend. We ate, we swam, we slept in, and we ate. Did I mention the food? Because we ate. A lot. Mother Nature must have heard my plea because it only rained on Saturday night.The rest of the time, it looked like this:

The amount of snow on the mountains behind our hotel was breathtaking. 

 Living Desert. Totally worth it.
There are two words that describe this hotel: cool and hipster.

 What road trip is complete without a hilarious sign?

And now I must get back to the real world.... the one that doesn't involve room service and margaritas at 11 o'clock in the morning. A world where fine dining is reserved for special occasions and sitting poolside is not an inalienable right. Sigh. I would've made a really good rich lady.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dear Mother Nature

Please stop. I know what you're doing and it's working. You're messing with the weather on the one weekend the boyfriend and I will be going away together, alone, and not to attend a wedding/family function/graduation/work-related gala. And it's really bumming me out.

You see, Rad Boyfriend and I have never taken a trip together that didn't involve some prior obligation. Sure we've traveled together and stayed in hotels together.... there was the time we went to Vegas for a wedding (and had a super fun awesome time); there was the time we went to Florida together to visit my dad and attend a wedding (also super fun); then there was the time we spent together with my family in New York over Christmas, when we met up with friends and drove 4 hours down to Washington D.C. to celebrate the new year and surprise a friend for his birthday (again, a lot of fun). But do you see a recurring theme here, Mother Nature? None of that was for us

We had plans with some friends to go to Vegas this coming weekend. We were super stoked about it, as we had such a fantastic time with them last year. But when said friends canceled (for very legitimate reasons) we jumped at the opportunity to take a trip together, alone, just the two of us. To a hotel in Palm Springs we'd been meaning to go to since last year. Yay for romantic getaways! 

Except that you, Mother Nature, are making it not as awesome as it should be. Because while the weather in Palm Springs has been sunny and between 70-81 degrees for 10 out of the last 15 days, you've chosen this coming weekend, the one weekend we'll be in Palm Springs, for it to rain. And not only will it rain, but temperatures will be in the 60's. There go our plans of shorts and sundresses, of swimming and laying out in the sun, of partaking in the amenities of a hotel that has "Swim Club" in its name.

Will this stop us from having a good time? Absolutely not. Rad Boyfriend and I are TOTALLY still stoked to be going away. We're even dropping some extra cash on a room with a fireplace on the patio, which, as it turns out, was great forethought on our part.

Very much looking forward to this

But still. Rain? Really? In the DESERT? Come on, Mama Natty. Throw a sister a bone here. Change your mind about the precipitation. Let me fully enjoy the one vacation RB and I will spend alone this year. Let us swim in a warm pool and sip Cokes shoot tequila while we lounge in hammocks. (Yes, they have poolside hammocks. HAMMOCKS!) I promise not to complain about any rain and/or earthquakes we might get this summer.* Please?

Eternally and forever your faithful peon,


*I promise not to complain too much. I'd still like a warm summer =)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When life hands you lemons, PART 2

So. Valentine's Day plans were kaput. We lamented over the inconsideration of the restaurant for about three minutes, then started thinking about alternative plans. We decided on getting take-out from a local and delicious Thai restaurant and watching a movie at home.

Which, as it turns out, will now be our Valentine's Day tradition from here on out.

The day before, upon learning that our extravagant plans had changed, I went to Target and picked up some things to make the evening more special. I bought a heart shaped plate on which I planned to put cupcakes from our favorite bakery, some candles, and a jumbo package of heart-shaped Reese' peanut butter cups, RB's favorite.

I came over to Rad Boyfriend's apartment early with a plan: get him out of the house to pick up the food and some champagne while I set up my surprise. I set the table with candles and napkins that I'd cut into hearts. I put four irresistible-looking cupcakes on the heart plate and placed it on the coffee table with candles all around it. And then I arranged the 30 individually wrapped peanut butter cups on his kitchen counter to spell out "I <3 YOU" with candles all around it.

As I write this, I can't help but think what a dork I am. What guy appreciates romantic stuff like that? Isn't that stuff better saved on the ladies? What girlfriend goes through all that trouble for a dude? Well Internets, I DO. And let's just say that it was very VERY much appreciated.

Best Valentine's Day ever =)

When life hands you lemons, PART 1

Several weeks ago (like back in January) I made reservations at a romantic Italian restaurant for Valentine's Day. I'd heard good things about this place, and one look at the menu told me we wouldn't be disappointed. It looked romantic, it was decently priced, and the Rad Boyfriend and I had been jonesing for some authentic Italian cuisine since before the holidays. In fact, we'd been jonsing for this particular restaurant's Italian food for quite some time; the only thing that had stopped us from trying it earlier was the fact that they don't take reservations. And if I'm gonna get all dressed up to have a nice dinner, you better believe I'm making reservations!

But, ever the optimist, I called them anyway to see if they were making exceptions to their no-res rule for Valentine's Day--and they were! Hooray! Delicious Italian food! Plans made, we began discussing what we'd order, if we should bring our own wine and pay the corking fee, what we would do afterwards, etc. RB must have mentioned how much he was looking forward to finally trying this place at least a dozen times since I made the reservation. We were stoked!

On Sunday morning (as in The Day Before Valentine's Day), as we leisurely sipped our coffee and talked about how much we were looking forward to this week, I received a call from a strange phone number. Never one to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers, I let it go to voicemail. Upon checking it several minutes later, this is what I heard:
"Hi Danielle, this is Jenna calling from --- ------ confirming your reservation for tomorrow night at 7:30. I also wanted to make sure that you knew about our 5-course prix fixe menu that we're serving for Valentine's Day. It's $70 a person and......" 
I stopped listening at that point. She could have told me it came with a basket of kittens to keep us company during dinner and I wouldn't have cared. Why? BECAUSE NO, I WAS NOT AWARE OF THE PRIX FIXE MENU. There was no mention of it on their website, nor did anyone tell me about it when I made the reservation. No way were be about to drop $200 on dinner just because it happened to be February 14th.

I was pissed. Not so much about not having dinner plans, but about someone informing me that I was expected to spend at least $140 the following night whether I liked it or not. There is nothing I hate more than feeling like I'm being taken advantage of. RB and I talked it over, and it was sort of a no-brainer: we canceled the reservation. And in an awesome twist of fate, it turns out it was the best thing that could have happened to us.

[Stay tuned for PART 2 later today]

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A three-hour tour

Guess what I did over the weekend? 

I got on a boat...

And went dolphin/whale watching!!

 Needless to say, it was really really cool. 

 We saw literally HUNDREDS of dolphins out in the open Pacific, just off the coast of San Diego. 

I will not make a joke about whale's vagina....

Friday, February 4, 2011

On eating healthy and doing yoga

The other night, I put on a pair of jeans that I hadn't worn in a while, mostly all because they're my tightest pair. And man was I in for a pleasant surprise: they were actually LOOSE on me! Internets, that hasn't happened since my second year of law school, otherwise known as the Dark Period. REJOICE!

How did I do it, you ask? What's that, you want to hear another story about how a complete stranger shed a few pounds and now feels ten times healthier? Why I'm glad you asked....

First of all, you should know that the goal wasn't to lose a bunch of weight and look like a waif. I'm a curvy gal and I like it that way; the goal was for my clothes to fit a little better in the tummy and thigh area. The second thing you should know is that I really didn't try very hard. I just changed a few things about my lifestyle and diet, and viola... several pounds were shed within 10 days. (I don't own a scale, so I can't tell you how many.)

The first thing I did was get back into yoga. It may seem like an easy workout, but it's not. The amount of strength it takes to keep certain poses, the amount of energy you exert while stretching and bending is actually astounding. Add some extra crunches and leg lifts to the workout, and trust me.... it's an exhausting hour. Try it if you don't believe me!

The main thing I did was change my diet. My biggest problem with food is that I only cook for myself*, and so I only buy things I can keep in the freezer or cupboard. I cook fresh, from-scratch meals so rarely lately that when I do, it's usually something really delicious and really bad for you. Like this:

Baked ziti alla vodka sauce. Oh. Em. Gee. 

My happy medium has been to eat smaller, healthier meals throughout the day instead of a giant lunch and big dinner. I usually have 2 Nutrigrain waffles on my way out the door in the morning, which never fills me up. I sometimes make myself a bowl of oatmeal at work around 10 or 11, which fills me up until about 1 or 2. Instead of going out for lunch, I've been making myself turkey and goat cheese sandwiches on high-fiber bread with a few dollops of low-fat salad dressing.

I use this one. It tastes sooo good with turkey!

I've always had that 4:00pm snack time craving, but instead of chips or candy, I have yogurt. Target carries a brand of food called Archer Farms, and their low-fat yogurt is TO DIE FOR. It's thick and creamy and comes in flavors like strawberry cheesecake, honey almond, and cherry pomegranate. (Note: most non-fat yogurt has aspartame in it instead of sugar, which is really bad for you. My advice? Buy low-fat. It's the difference between a few grams of fat and possibly getting cancer.)

A healthy dinner is hit or miss for me, which is why I've been trying extra hard to eat healthy during the day. If I'm making food for just myself, I usually default to things like Trader Joe's frozen falafel with Tzaziki sauce, risotto with mushrooms, soup, simple pasta dishes, bean and rice burritos, salads, etc. If I'm cooking for me and the Rad Boyfriend, I usually let him pick the dish... and it's never tofu and broccoli.

As for snacks.... well... I won't lie. This is the one area where I let myself eat whatever I want. I do, however, have a strict snack policy: only one sweet thing and one really-bad-for-you salty thing allowed in the house at one time. Usually it's brownies and potato chips (hey, I'm only human) but I try hard to stop at one brownie or one handful of chips. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I also keep lots of tea and ginger ale in the house when I really need to satisfy a sweet craving. Popsicles and pudding are also great alternatives to brownies and cake.

You'll notice that there isn't much dairy in my diet. That's mostly because I'm lactose intolerant, but also because dairy generally has a lot of fat. Have you ever looked at the nutritional facts for Brie cheese or a frozen pizza? It makes me wonder how the French stay so healthy.

So there you have it. Yoga once or twice a week plus oatmeal and high-fiber meals many times per day, minus greasy pizza. I'll let you know if this regime still works when I'm 35, but so far, so good!

*Rad boyfriend and I don't live together. Not yet, anyway.... ;-) Stay tuned for further news in that department.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


For the truly awesome man in my life. It's not our anniversary or Valentine's Day or the half-anniversary of the second time we kissed, it's just Thursday. And I love him.

Even when he wears his step-mom's 1984 sunglasses

Monday, January 31, 2011

Shout-out Slash Admonition to Ginger's parents

Last week I was walking from 711 back to my office and spotted a loose dog ahead of me on the sidewalk. At first I thought she was tied to a lamppost or bike rack, but quickly realized she didn't have a leash. She stopped when she saw me walking towards her, then picked up her pace and started walking in my direction rather quickly. That's when I noticed two things: 1) she had a pink collar, and 2) she appeared to be some sort of pit bull mix.... aka the ONLY breed of dog that I am somewhat, even a tiny bit afraid of.

Background: When it comes to dogs, I am THAT girl... the girl that walks up to strange dogs and pets them, the girl who doesn't cross the street when an angry dog barks from behind a fence, the one who's first on her feet to break up a dog fight. I strongly believe that if you don't show a dog fear, he won't be aggressive toward you. I am definitely not afraid of dogs....except for pit bulls. I know it's not fair to blame the breed, and that not all pit bulls are aggressive or mean, etc. It's just that I've seen too many stories about some thug gangster breeding his dog to fight, or how a little kid walking by an open gate got mauled, and all I'm saying is that it's never a Golden Retriever doing the mauling.

So. I was walking down the street and this dog in a pink collar started coming towards me. I didn't stop, I made sure to keep walking so that she would have to follow me if she wanted my attention. We got to the parking lot of an Italian restaurant where I first spotted her, and I asked a delivery man if he'd seen where she came from. He said no, and suggested I look at her collar for a phone number.

At this point, I wasn't afraid of the dog anymore. She was clearly very friendly, and when I bent down to read her collar, she let me without flinching. I saw that her name was Ginger and told her to sit, which she did. Then she started licking my hands and my face, which of course melted my heart. As I started calling the phone number on her tag, a guy sitting at a Starbucks across the street ran over and said he knew who the dog belonged to. He said that she's gotten out before and that this would be the third time he's had to bring her back. He said her owners work out of their home and that they leave their door open. Not a problem, he said, until someone opens the gate to their complex and Ginger gets out.

Ginger's owners, I have two things to say to you: 1) thank you for raising an awesome pit bull mix. Ginger seems like she's an obedient, well-tempered, sweet dog. You did a great job. And 2) CLOSE YOUR DAMN GATE!

Monday, January 24, 2011

I won't be mad if you hate me

Because I'll be too busy walking to lunch from my office in short-sleeves and shopping at the farmer's market in my flip-flops.

(Just so you know I'm not completely cold-hearted, I do feel bad for all of y'all who are suffering through 4 degree weather right now. I remember it well. But I do not miss it.)