Friday, April 27, 2012

Ladies Event

Tomorrow is a ladies event at my church.  I'm not really involved in my church, though I would love to be (I have to calm down every time there is an opening to teach a Sunday School class).  When Josh and I attend the second service on Sundays, we're typically late and then we leave when the service is done.  I really like my church, and I like the pastor and his wife.  I have been wanting to make friends there ever since we started going in November of 2010.  Last fall, I attended a ladies retreat.  It was great and I loved the ladies in my room, however I already knew them (two of whom don't attend my church), so I don't think I accomplished my goal of making friends.  I did make a friend crush.  She is about my age, married without children, and super sweet.  I was so nervous to say hello after our group's ice breaker, that I didn't say anything.  I hate it when my shyness overcomes me.  Anyway, I'm determined to make one friend during tomorrow's event. 

Jill, Misty, me, Minna and Angel at the WELL fall retreat

About two months ago, I saw in the bulletin a note that there were openings to decorate tables for the upcoming ladies event.  So, I volunteered to decorate a table.  Since I've never used my talents to do anything other than for work and projects for friends' weddings (and decorating with Grandma Bev every Christmas), I am really looking forward to doing something for a greater good.  Here's a picture of one of the place settings at the table I decorated.  I'm also supposed to make mini pineapple upside down cakes.  I hope they turn out!

My theme is Old Fashion Summer Fun

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kitchen and Bath Love

I worked at a kitchen and bath magazine for more than three years.  In that time, I interviewed a lot of designers and homeowners.  I have some favorites - one of whom is Rebekah Zaveloff from KitchenLab.  I love her style.  It's classic with a touch of modern and always fresh. 

Love the Cararara marble!
I could totally do my makeup while sitting there!
 Here's a link to one of my favorite kitchens Rebekah designed.  I could totally live here...

I wonder if I'll ever be as cool as she is...probably not.  She was just on an episode of Kitchen Crashers.  That makes her even cooler.  Here's a picture of us.  I tried to act way cooler than I was when I met Ree Drummond last year at BlogHer (more on that some other time).  I hope I succeeded in not acting like a complete star-struck moron.  Tomorrow morning we're meeting up at the Merchandise Mart to chat.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

KBIS Update

Today was pretty great, as expected.  I saw lots of product at KBIS.  Saw lots of PR reps.  And my feet hurt.  This is all very typical of any trade show.  The day was spent at McCormick Place, a huge convention center in Chicago.  The night ended with the Moen Spa Event, an event I look forward to every year.  I literally plan every other press event around this one.  Tonight didn't disappoint.  I had amazing food, wine and conversation with some of my favorite PR reps.  Then, I was treated to a neck and back massage, air-brushed makeup, and ended with making my own blend of sea salt scrub.  It was fabulous.  And the best part - I got to meet up with my former boss, Marie, and some of my favorite kitchen and bath editors (who I use to work with for years).  It was pretty amazing overall.  It doesn't get much better than the Moen Spa Event.  If you haven't gone, you're missing out.
Some of my favorite kitchen and bath editors leaving the Moen Spa Event!
We got airbrushed makeup and had to document!
Also, I learned that next year's event will be in New Orleans the weekend of April 19.  I hope I have the opportunity to attend!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Catching Up

Tonight was pretty wonderful.  Michaun and I were supposed to have dinner with some other Chicago-area Kappas, but things fell through at the last minute, and we had an intimate dinner with just the two of us.  It was amazing.  She took me to Farmhouse (no, Emily, not the fraternity we stayed at the summer between sophomore and junior year of college).

The rustic touches and mouth-watering meals make me want to return.
Michaun had the following: Half Roasted Amish Chicken, Baby Cumin Carrots, Roasted Forest Mushrooms, Cracked Pepper Spaetzle and Rosemary Jus.  I had this tasty dish:  Tender Boneless Beef Short Ribs, Horseradish Whipped Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts, Crispy Buttermilk Onions, Natural Braising Jus.  Actually, this is from their menu online, which I'm noticing is a little out-of-date.  Michaun had chicken and I had the short ribs.  The sides were something else.  Detour...  Anyway, being the good Midwestern girls we are, we cleaned our plates.  Ok, I did.  Michaun was polite.

Catching up was fantastic.  The food was amazing, but the conversation was even better.  I may not have all my besties living in the same state, but it sure is nice to visit!  I guess this makes every moment together even more special.  Can't wait to visit again this summer and go on a super cool river cruise!

Tradeshow Fun

Every year since I started working, I've been lucky enough to attend the National Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.  This year, I'm back in Chicago (it's my third time here), and I'm really looking forward to the next few days.  I love Chicago, especially when it's not raining, super cold, or super windy. 

This week, I think I'm in luck.  The weather should be in the 50s and 60s with no rain (although it says nothing about wind, which is likely in the Windy City).  I'm staying at the amazing Hotel Monaco, and for the first time, I'm on the 12th floor.  I have an amazing window seat with a fabulous view of the Chicago River.
The pictured window seat is where I'm sitting right now.  It's perfectly normal to be jealous.

This is my view.  It's pretty spectacular!

Also, tonight, I'm having dinner with a few college friends.  One of which, is my dear friend Michaun.  I love her.  She's pretty great.  Not that my other friends aren't - they're all wonderful in their own way.  Michaun is one of the nicest people I know.  She's probably a tie with wonderful Joanna.  Spending any amount of time with Michaun is refreshing...even if she's hungover like she was this past December when I was visiting Chicago.  She's just so easy to talk to and makes everyone feel better (which is probably why she's so good working in HR).  So, I like spending time with her and I can't wait to see her later.  I have a framed picture of us in my living room.  It's from our first week as freshmen at Iowa State.  We were wearing our Kappa shirts and eating watermelon at Watermelon Fest, the welcome fest for all the new Greek members.  I made her hold up her slice of watermelon in the photo...and, of course, made sure it made the frame crop.  Below is my most recent picture with Michaun.  It's from this past February when we went to visit Heather and Baby T in St. Louis (and Emily joined us from Minneapolis).  She's my Mexican friend who is married to a Filipino.  I was born in the Philippines, so I feel an even greater bond with her now that she married Rod.

Emily, me (holding Alison), Heather (holding Baby T), and Michaun
I hope to have more updates later this week.  I already learned how to upload photos from my iphone to my computer.  It's the little things in life...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Vacations

Growing up, I didn't really have a summer vacation.  My parents were Ham Radio operators.  Dad's call sign is N0HAN; mom's is KB0MGV.  When I was homeschooled, my mom taught my sister and me Morse Code.  She was upgrading her Ham Radio license and learning Morse Code was required.  I don't remember much (more than SOS), but I'm glad I had the experience.  Anyway, back to family vacations.  Pretty much every summer, we ventured three hours from our house near Larimore, North Dakota, up to Dunseith, North Dakota for the annual Ham Radio Fest.

I loved every year when I saw the giant turtle.  It meant the gardens were just a few minutes away.

"World's largest man-made turtle" was "erected as a novelty" in 1982, welded together from over 2,000 steel wheel rims by, George Gottbreht.
Other vacation highlights included the clock, the sunken gardens, and the Peace Tower.  Every year, the garden is planted differently, so seeing the different flower patterns was truly exciting.  I was homeschooled and lived in North Dakota, folks.  Almost anything was exciting to me.

The Flower Clock plantings change every year.
A narrow channel flows through the center, the 49th parallel, of the formal garden.
Most years, I remember sleeping in our family car for the couple of days we were there.  I think we slept in tents a couple of years.  Once (that I remember), a bear was rumored to be in the campgrounds.  This is probably why I don't like camping now.  Who would want to die on their family vacation by being eaten by a bear?  Not this girl.  So, that's one of my childhood summer vacations.  The others were spent at Family Camp and Junior Camp, camping trips put on by our church.  They were about as fun as camping at the Peace Gardens.  Ok, they weren't.  They were worse.  Even as a little kid, I didn't want to be in nature for more than a couple of hours.  When, in fourth or fifth grade, I took three suitcases to Junior Camp, I should have come to grips with this.  I enjoy the comforts of home and being inside.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We all make mistakes

Yesterday was a weird day.  I have been on my g-free kick for almost a year.  And I had a breakdown.  I wanted to test myself to see if it was still a problem (I know, a day after I was on my pedestal about how awesome g-free is).  Turns out, gluten still hates me.  I had a meeting in Ankeny and thought I'd just swing through the KFC drive-thru to get my favorite mashed potatoes (that's how I got through 18 months of braces in college) and maybe a grilled chicken leg.  I had to wait about three minutes before I could order - in the land of fast food, this is an eternity - and once the little high school kid asked to take my order, I decided to just go with a meal.  It seemed like the grown-up decision:  a leg, thigh, small mashed potatoes (no gravy), and a drink.  Oh...and a tasty, buttery, gluten-packed biscuit.  Shoot.  I slipped.  It was amazing.  All two minutes it took to eat that little delight were heavenly.  The last two hours I spent in pain before bed last night, were not so heavenly.  I hope I learn my lesson.  Or take a sleeping pill after I eat another biscuit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I heart Pinterest

I found Pinterest over a year ago.  One of my friends who works at suggested I join.  I took her up on her invite.  Now I'm addicted.  I design rooms and small projects for work, so it's a lot easier to keep inspiration images in one place (before I had a million bookmarks and printouts - it was messy).  Now, it's all on one handy little site.  Convenient, isn't it? 

Here are a few of my favorite pins lately...
 This Too Shall Pass 8x10 Print by NanLawson

It's one of the lyrics from Tenth Avenue North's song You Are More.

Delightful Lemon Mousse with Raspberry Sauce

Monogrammed Locket (I love mongrams!)

Gluten-free isn't (always) gross

I began a gluten-free diet June 1, 2011.  After nearly 15 years of pills and way too many "tummy troubles" to count, I decided to take the advice of Dr. Cassie B. (my best friend from high school) and give up gluten.  I was doubtful it would really make me feel better, even after reading Elizabeth Hasselbeck's book The G-Free Diet.  I'd given up dairy and pop a few years back, and it didn't really help.  But, I figured I'd take her up on the two-week trial and see what happened.  And the best news - nothing happened!  I didn't have ANY tummy troubles!  I was sold.  No more gluten for this girl!

Over the past year, I've tried a few recipes (gluten-free is expensive, so I plan frugally).  Some recipes have been awful (a balsamic flank steak I found on Pinterest that I probably made wrong), while some have been amazing (the recipe I'm sharing below).  I can make my co-workers think gluten-free isn't awful when I bring these tasty bites to the office.

Blueberry-Orange Scones
from Gluten-Free Made Simple

2 c. Domata Living gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 T. grated orange peel
1/2 cup very cold, unsalted butter, cut up
1 cup dried blueberries (I had cranberries, so that's what I used)
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 recipe Orange Frosting Drizzle

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Set aside. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add grated orange peel and mix well.

Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly, resembling small peas. Add dried blueberries and buttermilk, stirring until just moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead five or six times.

Pat into an 8-inch circle. Cut into eight wedges. Place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool. Drizzle with Orange Frosting.  *I adapted Ree's technique, making my scones smaller, which yielded 16 wedges.

Orange Frosting Drizzle
In a small bowl stir together 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon grated orange peel until creamy and smooth. Place in a piping tube or a small plastic sandwich bag; cut off corner of bag. Pipe or squeeze frosting onto scones.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

30 before 30

I remember my mom's 30th birthday.  It was a food shower at our church (long story - more on my childhood later).  I was eight years old when mom turned 30.  Thirty seemed SO old to me back then.  It's not looking so old nowadays.  I turn 30 on October 9, 2014.  Before I reach this milestone, I'm determined to make the most of my life, challenge myself, and try a few new things.  Below is my list (in no particular order).  I'll document every item.  Wait for it... 

30 before 30
  1. Pay off a student loan
  2. Learn how to do my eye makeup
  3. Go to Alaska
  4. Catch a fish
  5. Go skiing
  6. Make a quilt
  7. Sip wine in Sonoma
  8. Visit all five Great Lakes
  9. Sail on a sailboat
  10. Learn how to play chess
  11. Read Pride & Prejudice
  12. Go to a zoo
  13. Run a 5K
  14. Run a 10K
  15. Eat lobster in Maine
  16. Build a sandcastle
  17. Drive down the California coast
  18. Try paddle boarding
  19. Build a snowman
  20. Donate 10" of hair to Locks of Love
  21. Venture to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  22. Learn how to square dance
  23. Grow a garden
  24. Wear my size 27 J.Crew jeans
  25. Visit Yellowstone National Park
  26. Go ziplining
  27. Be in more than one place at once
  28. Ride a day of RAGBRAI
  29. Enter a contest at the Iowa State Fair
  30. Spend a day helping someone else

My BFF's baby

One of my best friends used to live about 5 minutes away from my house.  Then, her husband got transferred to St. Louis.  That's not exactly in my neighborhood.  It's actually 309 miles from my house (unless I drive some random way thanks to Google Maps).  Anyway, I hate living so far away from her.  Especially when she had Baby T.  He is probably the cutest little nugget I've ever seen.

What a dreamy little guy!

These are more of his newborn pictures.  I keep a tab open on my computer so I can see what he looks like at any given moment.  I miss him (and his mommy and daddy).  I hope someday we can live in the same hood again.  Those were the days...

Someday is Today

I've been putting this off for years.  Seriously, who writes blogs?  Um, everyone!  I used to write every day for work, so writing in my free time didn't seem like a great idea.  Then, I went to graduate school (while working as an associate editor full-time), and wrote ALL the time.  So, again, blogging seemed like a terrible idea.  Then, I got a new job where all I do is make super awesome projects and create spaces and projects for photo shoots.  So, writing seems to fit back into my life now.  I'll see how things go.  It could be awful.  It could be amazing.  We shall see...