Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buy More at Costco!

When tv season hits, we have a standing Monday viewing party to watch How I Met Your Mother, Chuck, and Heroes. Since our kitchen is done, FI and I offered to host this week's viewing party.

Since we now have an oven, we decided to make a Costco evening out of it and get lots of Costco appetizers and make a meal out of it.

FI's sister (FSIL) also came over early to help out. Here she is cutting French bread up for the spinach and artichoke dip (both from Costco).
For meat dishes, we bought (from Costco) honey barbeque wings and mini crab cakes. Here is FI spreading them out onto baking sheets for the oven.

Here are the crab cakes.

Into the oven they go! Even with our teeny oven, we were able to fit both trays in at the same time, which making cooking a lot more efficient.

We originally wanted to get a pre-made veggie platter from Costco, but it was like 15 bucks and mostly baby carrots, so we decided to make our own from Trader Joe's. We bought baby carrots, sugar snap peas, grape tomatoes, and hummus and we only spent 9 bucks on everything.

I wanted to wash everything and plate it all really nicely in a pattern on a platter. But when washing all of the veggies together, the colors looked so pretty all mixed up that I decided to just plate it that way. The reds and oranges contrast so nicely with the greens.

Here are all of our veggie dishes laid out on our coffee table. From left to right - veggie platter, hummus, tortilla chips, homemade salsa (made by FSIL with her Magic Bullet - it took her 7 minutes, not 3 to make the salsa), sliced French bread, and spinach & artichoke dip.

FI's party speciality is his homemade pigs-in-a-blanket. This was the one meat appetizer we did not get at Costco. He makes his own with cut-up hotdogs and cut-up pieces of Pillsbury's crescent rolls.

Here is FSIL cutting up the hotdogs into fourths.

FI then cut up each piece of crescent roll into quarters and rolled each hot-dog section with a piece of crescent roll. Here is everyone rolling pigs.

FI ended up making 64 pigs-in-a-blanket! 2 packs of hotdogs times 8 dogs each times 4 cut pieces equals a lot of appetizers.

Prior to the oven, FI would cook them in his toaster oven. Today he used both the oven and toaster to make all of the pigs.
After the appetizers baked long enough, we would let FSIL's boyfriend taste them for temperature approval. I kept asking "Does the temperature suit your palate?" He liked everything so we plated all of the meat appetizers.

Here are all of the meat dishes on one end of our work table. From top to bottom, right to left - mini crab cakes, pigs-in-a-blanket, honey bbq wings, and meatballs.
Our friends also brought over soda and beer and desserts - Carvel ice cream sandwiches and green tea roll cake. Everything was super yummy and we finished off most of the food. I think we have 4 mini crab cakes, some bread, and some veggies left.

TV night was fun too...

How I Met Your Mother was hysterical. FI especially enjoyed it because he is a huge burger fan as well and we've been to many of the places they mentioned in the episode. Many of our dates have been FI taking me to his favorite burger places - Shake Shack, Corner Bistro, the burger place at Le Parker Meridien, etc. What was even funnier was everyone's exhilarated comments about how good the burgers were. It's all about the first bite and sigh as you take a moment to absorb the tastes and flavors and textures. It was a little ironic that there was all this focus on the Goliath Neighborhood Bank in this episode just as the whole financial markets system is imploding. But they most have shot this a while back and it was really more about Barney being a walking commercial and Marshall getting a job.

Chuck was its usualy combination of daring spy stuff, funny moments with Chuck and Casey, funny moments with Chuck and Captain Awesome, funny moments with Chuck and Morgan, and just general craziness of the Buy More and Nerd Herd crew. Michael Clarke Duncan did a nice job as the bad guy in this episode. What I always find clever about Chuck is how they use something mundane from Chuck's everyday life that helps him when he's stuck in a spy situation. I also love the chemistry between Chuck and Sarah and really the relationship between Casey and Chuck. You know underneath the toughness Casey is a big 'ole teddy bear!

Heroes was intense. I think I liked this week's episode mainly for the fact that Mohinder and Maya were not in the episode. I like getting more backstory on the Nikki/Jessica/Tracy characters and how they were all "made". I completely believe that the reason Zachary Quinto got the part of Spock in the new Star Trek movie is because of his magnificent eyebrows (although Peter Gallagher's will always be tough to beat). I like how they are using Sylar (the most evil character basically, as comic relief. Mama Petrelli is also totally bad-ass, which is pretty cool.

A fun, fun evening!

Monday, September 29, 2008

They liked mine!

This past weekend we attended the wedding of my college friend Angela and her fiance (duh) Howard.

It was back down in NoVA so FI and I had another road trip. We're getting pretty good at these. We split the driving both ways, I drive the Delware to VA part and he drives the Delaware to NY part. We also have both the GPS and the handy atlas at our disposal so we both know where we're going and how to take alternate routes if necessary.

The ceremony was outside next to the reception hall. We thought we were totally late, but we were rushing in like everyone else. A combination of a mostly Chinese guests wedding and a kind-of-far out location kept everything from starting on time. So we didn't miss anything although we did end up with seats in the way back.

Here's Meime, one of the bridesmaids. Angela's favorite color is purple and it was used throughout the wedding. I love these dresses. They are really flattering and the color looks so rich.

We could hear what was happening during the ceremony, but couldn't really see anything. It was a nice and short ceremony. They had a vibraphonist for their ceremony musician. I'm not sure what a vibraphone is, but it sounded nice.

Here's the happy couple!

As part of their ceremony, their "unification ritual" was a "blending of the sands". They poured in sands of different colors (he with purple and black, she with pink and white) in at the same time to create a jar of layered sand. The final product was really pretty.

Here's one of the flower arrangements. I like the dark purple, white/cream, and pink color combinations she used.

Here's one of the appetizers. It was lightly seared tuna on top of polenta (I think) and covered in black seasame seeds. The other appetizers (which I didn't get pictures of) included ceviche and crab dip.

They did 2 table set-ups. Alternating dark purple and cream, and high and low.

The first table set-up had a dark purple tablecloth with a low centerpiece. The centerpiece was a wide-necked glass vase with water and floating tea lights. Then around the vase was a floral wreath of cream ranunculus(?) and pink roses.

There were 8 tea lights floating in each vase. The center one was dark purple and the rest were white. What was cool was that the tea lights had been lit for a little while so they all melted together.

The other table set-up had white tableclothes with a tree branch centerpiece with rose petals. Hanging off the branches were strings of pink clear beads and hanging pink tealights.

Also the napkins were altering colors too. I liked the contrasting looks of the two table set-ups. Not having high centerpieces on all the tables kept it from feeling like you couldn't see anything.

Here's the wedding cake with purple accents and a double happiness cake topper.

The cake was a shortcake with strawberry and cream filling. Very light and yummy!

Remember how I wrote about creating a fun RSVP card for my friend's wedding? And how I really wanted to win whatever they were giving out as prizes?

They actually had all of the RSVP cards on display at the wedding, in a binder near the guest book. It was really cool to see everyone's work and see some of the really creative (and not-so-creative) ones. The ones drawn by kids were especially cute.

Anyways, back to winning... I won! They picked 12 winners and we each got to keep one of the wreath centerpieces. I gave mine to Mom since we didn't need to lug it back to New York.

My friend Loun-Loun won as well. She did a cool ink drawing in the style of Chinese painting. There's bamboo and a Chinese couplet "Bai To Shei Lao" - basically "together until you are both white-haired and bent over with age".
It was a lovely and low-key wedding, even with 200 guests. It was fun to see some NoVA friends that I hadn't talked to in a while.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homemade McGriddles

This Saturday for breakfast we had leftover pancakes, eggs, and bacon. While FI decided to eat them as a regular continental breakfast, I decided I wanted McGriddles!

Here's my fried egg. FI cooked them pretty long so there would be no yolk oozing out when I cut it up into smaller pieces.

I broke the bacon into smaller pieces and laid them on one pancake.

I then put 2 pieces of egg (cut up into quarters) on top and then placed another pancake on top.

Here are my homemade McGriddles!
They were yummy but a little dry. I realized also the McGriddles say their griddles are "infused with maple syrup" and I didn't put any on. Next time I might try pouring on some syrup before assembly and letting it soak in a bit before eating.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dinner at Tenzan

We had dinner tonight at Tenzan. It was super wet and rainy all day today, so we didn't feel like going too far out.

So we headed to Tenzan. As FI says, "We've got to support the neighborhood economy." That's why we go to Pinkberry too. :)

We first had some sushi rolls. From top to bottom: Spicy Girl, Tuna Naruto, Yellowtail.
The Spicy Girl rolls were spicy salmon, eel, and avocado and lightly tempura fried. They were very flavorful and the spiciness didn't overwhelm the fish.

The Tuna Naruto (not the manga) were our favorites. Basically tuna sushi with no rice and seaweed. In the middle is avocado and thin cucumber strips are wrapped around the tuna. The tuna was really fresh and not fishy at all.

The Yellowtail rolls were yummy too. Very light. A nice contrast to the Spicy Girl rolls.

We were pretty full by then but I had also ordered an Oyako Don. This one was brown rice with chicken, onion, and veggies.
It is super colorful. The picture (taken on my blackberry) doesn't do it justice. We each had a small bowl since we were so full. The chicken and veggies were good, but the best part is the rice! Japanese brown rice is shorter than your normal white rice and it's soft and chewy and is a little less than q.q. (to quote a Taiwanese expression). So so good.

We'll have Oyako Don leftovers tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jam is back!

We stayed in last night to watch The Office season premiere. It was a one-hour episode, but it didn't feel like it was padded at all. It was quite funny and there was a lot going on.

I think it helped that the episode covered an entire summer of action. I liked how pretty much everyone got a storyline. Except Meredith... I don't think she said anything or had a TH (talking head) the entire episode. And did anyone notice her face during the 1st or 2nd weigh-in? It was really red and shiny, like she had a chemical peel. I guess we'll have to wait until the Season 5 DVDs' deleted scenes to find out what happened.

Things I loved:
- Jam! (That's 'shipper code for Jim and Pam) Yay for Jim for just proposing, instead of trying to plan the perfect moment. At least he didn't ask her about his shoes. :)
- Andy becoming the needy Groomzilla. I liked all the places he looked into for a wedding (Scuba brides! EPCOT Center! Hot air balloons!).
- Michael Scott doing his Michael Klump impression.

Things that made me laugh:
- Michael and Holly doing the rap and beat box. I especially liked how Holly rubbed her lapels together to make the shushing noise at the end of a record.
- Kelly's TH while she's on the master cleanse.
- Dwight trying to grow a goatee (Go-tees!)
- Realizing that everyone knows what she weighs when Pam got off the scale.

Things that made me sympathy-cringe in embarrassment:
- Holly realizing that Kevin is not "special".
- Michael ripping up the Counting Crows tickets.

I love how Steve Carrell is playing Michael Scott. He's super annoying and stupid, but then he's such a sweet dork around Holly, that you're feeling bad for him and cheer him on to ask Holly out. Then he goes and rips up the tickets! And tells her he can't pay her until the next day. Stupid Michael! Arrghh!

Oh well... yay Jam!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

An IKEA Adventure: Our Bookshelf

After the finishing of our kitchen, FI and I started working on the rest of the apartment. We made a Sunday afternoon trip to IKEA. We headed out to the Brooklyn IKEA in Red Hook, which took just a speedy 20 minutes. We did a lot of shopping and bought some fun stuff (which I'll reveal in further posts).

One of the items we wanted to get was a tall bookshelf. It would go in the corner of the studio between our windows. The bookshelf could only be so wide (to fit between the windows) and only so deep (since we were going to put a long table as our workspace between the bookshelf and the tv), so we measured and had the numbers with us when we went shopping.

Our original choice was the Billy bookcase. We liked the simple and clean style and the price wasn't bad. However when we went down to the first floor to pick up one, it was pretty heavy, so we decided to pick a lighter one. We decided to go with IVAR shelf system, bought it, got it all the way home, started building it, and realized... it didn't fit! The measurements given by IKEA only measures the shelf space for storage, not the full width of the shelf. So we turned around and went right back to IKEA (thank goodness it was only 20 minutes away) and checked out some other bookcases.

We finally settled on the KILBY bookcase. Not only was it sturdier than the IVAR and lighter than the BILLY, it was cheaper than both by a lot. We doublechecked the measurements and took it home. Then we started assembling it...

First thing, we moved all of the stuff that was in the corner and moved it... well, basically anywhere else in the apartment. And then cleaned the floor. And then stacked the bookcase box in the corner.

Here's all our stuff from the corner. You can see the little bookcase in the foreground and my plants (on top of my craft boxes) in the background.
Now to start assembling!

Here's the unpacking...

We've laid out all of the pieces.

We sorted all of the attachments and make sure we have the right number of each. I always like laying the little pieces out just like the diagram so I know which ones to grab.

We first attach each shelf to one sideboard with wooden pegs. Here's FI hold the shelves while I take a picture.

Then we stuck the bottom cover piece on.

We put pegs on the other side of the shelves.

Then we attached the other sideboard. We had some old allen wrenches (from previous IKEA pieces) so we were both able to put in bolts at the same time.
Then we flipped the bookshelf on its back and put the backboard on. We then had to hammer in nails around the sides and across the middle. I wanted to go all Mr. Miyagi and try and hammer them in all at once, but having tried that before with my dresser, I knew that wasn't a good idea.

Here's some of my handiwork.
We then stood the bookcase up and moved it to the corner. It fits!

The KILBY is a very light bookcase and we didn't want it to tumble over onto anyone, so we attached the safety strap as well.

Then we put in little metal rods on the insides of the sideboards and laid the other shelves in. FI said, just stick them in anywhere, but I was like, no, we must count and equally allot the holes so the shelves are the same size.

Yay! Our finished bookcase! Now it's ready to be filled with our stuff!
I'll post about our complete workspace soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dibbly awesome outfits...

To continue on the books of my youth post, one of the most influential was The Baby-Sitters Club. I bought each new book every month and every single super special and spin-off for about 6 years.

These books made me want to be a baby-sitter and wear the crazy outfits that Claudia wore and be as cool as Stacey. However, now looking back, I can see how ludicrous some of those plots are and how silly the narration was.

But still... I loved re-reading them and I was sad when I donated all my old books to Zoe for her to enjoy. However, I am glad they get a 2nd home.

When we were in SF last winter, I found these awesome BSC comics! They were awesome and they follow word-by-word the dialogue and draw everything exactly as Ann M. Martin described.

I also found these hysterical blogs...

For awesome recaps of all the crazy outfits Claudia wore - what claudia wore

For snarky reviews of BSC books (and their companion series) - BSC Headquarters

I stayed up way too late reading both of them and remembering Claudia's outfits and the random storylines. The clothing descriptions were some of the best parts of the series!

Monday, September 22, 2008

How I Met Coupling...

I am super excited about tonight's season premiere of How I Met Your Mother. I've been watching the show diligently since the first season. And I can't wait for start of season 4.

I love the fact the show doesn't run in a linear fashion. There are flashbacks, flash-forwards (I was about to write "forward-backs" there for a moment), and flash-in-betweens.

The episode "Lucky Penny"was told in reverse as Ted and Robin tried to figure out who's fault it was that they missed their flight to Chicago. What was cool was looking for the little visual clues that something had happened and then going back one scene to find out what had happened.

The episode "Ted Mosby: Architect" was told from multiple points of view. So not only was it funny to see each person's interpretations, but there was a cool twist at the end that made me want to go back and rewatch the episode to look for clues.

It reminds me of Coupling (the far superior British version) in both the characters and storytelling. Coupling used non-linear storytelling as well, with multiple viewings of the same scene from different viewpoints, flashbacks from each character that piece together the story, and seeing how 2 different storylines converge. There was also a whole discussion on the Television Without Pity forums where they likened each the characters on How I Met Your Mother to characters on Coupling.

Ted is like Jack, the main protaganist and sort-of anal voice-of-reason.

Robin is like Susan, brash and confident.

Barney is of course, Jeff, the crazy friend with weird soliloquies and random asides.

I'm not sure I can equate Marshall and Lily to Sally and Patrick, but they're both nice couples. :)

Anyways, can't wait for tonight! I hope Stella is the mother!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Earning status as a plus-one

Over the course of the relationship, the FI and I have been going to a lot of weddings and getting invitations to them too. And each time, I've been addressed differently.

When we first started dating and his friends started including me on the invite, I was the " & Guest". Totally understandable. I was the added-on guest after they had met me.

Then in the last few months, they've been "Mr. FI FirstName LastName and Ms. Junage LastName". So now they knew us as a couple.

Earlier this summer we got the invitation for FI's cousin's wedding. It was simply "FI & Junage", no last names. I guess I'm in!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Renovating the Kitchen Part III: Hurray for Pancakes!

For the beginning of the story, here are Part I and Part II...

The one piece of equipment we didn't get through our contractor was the stove. Given the poor shape of our previous stove, we wanted to find a really nice, new, shiny stove that had a window in the oven so I could see what I was baking. The stove area is pretty small (22 inches, I think) so we had to make sure we got an oven that fit. We also wanted one that was black and silver so it looked modern.

The stove was delivered on a Tuesday. I took the day off to wait for the delivery. There was horrible weather that day so the delivery time kept getting pushed back, from between 9-11 to 10-12 to 11-2. It finally showed up around 1:45pm.

Here it is, still all in its styrofoam and plastic packaging. We still had to wait a few more days to complete the kitchen because while the stove was delivered, they didn't hook it up. We had to wait until Saturday when the contractor could come to hook it up.

During the week, we continued unpacking and consolidating 2 kitchens worth of stuff into one. We figured out what stuff to keep, what stuff to give away, and what to put in storage. Then we had to wash everything since it had all been packed away in the living room for a month.

Saturday finally came around and our contractor came for the last time. He hooked up the stove and added cabinet doors (on the cabinet above the microwave shelf).

And on Sunday we celebrated a completed kitchen! We made our favorite breakfast food - pancakes! And pancakes with fruit (this time it was bananas). We love making silver dollar ones (about 3 inches in diameter) and eating stacks of them.

I especially like making the little ones because I never got them as a kid because Mom thought it took too much time to make them.

So yay for pancakes!