Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dreamy little moment

i'm loving this charming video made for kate spade. saw it on rockstar diaries this morning and had to repost immediately.

                Kate Spade "Henrietta Street" Fashion Film from Kinga Burza on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bringing sexy back. Or dry heaving set to music...

Hope you got that reference. No, not the Justin Timberlake one. The Seinfeld reference. It sets the scence so well. Here's my awkward story of the afternoon:

Was just unloading the dishwasher and listening to pandora. You know-normal Thursday afternoon. Well JT came on my pandora station and um, got into the music. There I was "bringing sexy back" which looks eerily like Elaine's dancing except with a lot more booty shakin'. As I'm getting my groove on I spin around towards the kitchen window (holding a pyrex mixing bowl btw) and yup, you guessed it. There's Mr. Creepy McCreeper neighbor watching me do my thang.


 Here's a little visual for ya:

Our fur babies. A (cautionary) tale of love

I thought it might be time to do a little About Us post. Well really, an About the Pets post since they're so darned cute.

Some background: I live with my partner M in Madison, Wisconsin. We recently moved to the midwest from Philadelphia, PA and we're still adjusting to small town life. And owning a car. And shopping at big box stores...

We moved because M finished grad school and received a job offer that he couldn't really refuse (makes us sound like we're in the mob doesn't it? I like it that way... more mysterious). So we packed up our little apartment, I left my job and we road tripped to our new life in Wisconsin with pets in tow.

Which brings me to our fur babies. Baxter is our sweet, if not aloof, domestic tabby we adopted from the Philadelphia SPCA. Actually, we started out by fostering him because he was involved in a legal battle. His owners had abandoned their property leaving Baxter behind and the SPCA and the city govt were suing the owners. Home abandonment and animal abandonment for that matter, were/are pretty common in Philly due to the high unemployment rates and low-income status of many residents. It's sad but true.

Isn't he a pretty boy? And large. Like nearly 20 lb.

And very prim as well.
So Baxter had been languishing away at the PSCPA for nearly six months while his court battle dragged on since no one could legally adopt him. After a particularly bad row one Sunday M and I decided we needed a pet in our lives (still not really sure why our fight lead to us getting a pet but oh well). So off we went to the shelter and home we came with Baxter.

Sleeping on Daddy's stinky hockey equipment.
Baxter and M bonded right away. M is definitely his person and they love each other very much. I think they're so cute when Baxter snuggles up with M on the sofa. They're best buds and M makes up songs in Baxter's honor.

B and I pretty much tolerate each other. Don't get me wrong, he's a got cat but I'm not really a cat person and B is content to pretend I don't exist most of the time. Unless of course I've got some tuna or a really soft fuzzy blanket. Or preferably both. Then he's my best friend. Ah, cats...

B thought my hair might be fun to play with.
And yes, despite the fact that he doesn't have claws, it hurt.
Well about six months after we got Baxter I got that feeling again.. you know the time for more pets feeling. What? You don't get that feeling? Well much to M's chagrin, I certainly do. Enter Dean. We knew that we would get a dog this time around and I started researching adoptable pets in the area. I'm dead set against buying from breeders and didn't want a puppy anyway.

Most of the dogs available for adoption at the Philly shelters are pit bulls and while I certainly don't have anything wrong with these often misunderstood babies, many people including some in our respective families, do. And so pitties were out.

I then started looking at other breed rescues in the area and came across a retired racing greyhound adoption group. I've always loved greyhounds and thought they might be a good match. I'm not going to mention the name of our adoption group because we ultimately had a bad experience with these folks and I'd like to be as polite as possible on the internet.

Fast-forward several months to me convincing M that we both wanted a greyhound and we adopted Dean. And our lives changed forever. Dean is wonderful and he's a very good dog. Now. Over six months after we adopted him.
Dean on his first day home in Philly. They pant like that when they're nervous.
 We didn't know it then...
When we first got Dean he had come straight from the race track to our house. Hadn't seen windows or stairs before. Or bicycles or strollers or any of the million + other things that are constantly around in the big city. And what can I say? It was a rough transitional period for the pup and us alike. D and I bonded right away but he and M took a long time to warm up to each other. It was tough going there for awhile.

Dean today. MUCH happier and MUCH more
relaxed as you can see.

Now I think we're finally on the easier side of things and we're all much happier. Plus I think our life in Madison is much more doggy friendly than in Philly (we have a backyard for example) and that helps a great deal.
My handsome boy.

We love both our boys and haven't ruled out getting another dog sometime in the future. Probably another greyhound. They're wonderful dogs and make excellent pets. All my comments above about how stressful our doggy adjustment period was should be taken with a healthy dose of salt. Dean has separation anxiety which makes him a bit more complicated than the average pup.M and I both grew up with dogs but this was our first dog together. That you know, we didn't have our moms to  walk and feed it for us. Plus M was in the middle of finishing grad school and THAT was a stressful time. 

Basically we were noobs who were in hindsight probably way too stressed to get a dog. And our adoption agency was pretty much useless when it came to helping us make the transition from kennel to home with Dean.

But it all worked out in the end and we're all so much happier now with both our boys in our lives. I can't imagine our house without them now. Plus we have his and her's pets which works out really well most of the time. We've agreed though that if we do ever get a second dog M will be the one to pick him/her out since it'll probably be his dog.

Do you have fur babies? If so, did you go through a tough transition when you brought them home? Would you change anything about the way in which you did? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Last Night's Dinner

As promised, although a day late, here is a recipe I recently made for dinner. It's always a bit of a struggle for me to balance healthy, easy to make dinners with M's and my differing taste buds. In all my recipes I'll comment whether we both enjoyed the particular dish or just one of us... or neither... yikes.

I also find that I occasionally run out of dinner inspiration. The same recipes I usually make on a rotating basis start to feel boring and blah. That's when I know its time to hit up foodgawker or tastespotting for some ideas. I also start tolling the archives of some of my favorite sites like Smitten Kitchen (Did you see today's post? Double coconut muffins? Yes, please).

Butternut Squash Gnocchi 
Recipe adapted by me several years ago from a variety of sources
Serves 2-4

There are dozens of butternut squash gnocchi recipes floating around out there. Some use ricotta cheese, others don't. Some call for eggs and some don't. The most basic recipes are simply pureed butternut squash and flour. That's it. My recipe falls somewhere in the middle. This is one of those "little bit of this, little bit of that" recipes which work so well for me. If you're an engineer or scientist type (or just really, really Type A) this might not work for you. But who am I to say?


1 small or 1/2 large butternut squash
whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1-2 eggs

Method: Slice butternut squash in half length-wise and remove seeds and pulp from center section. Place squash halves cut size down on baking dish or microwave-safe dish and add 1/2 inch water to pan. Cook squash in oven or microwave until flesh is soft and cooked-through. Cool.

Squash and egg mixture before adding flour.
Once cool, remove flesh from squash and add to medium mixing bowl and mash with fork. To bowl add one egg, lightly beaten, and stir. Begin adding flour by the 1/4 cup to mixture until dough begins to form. Ideal dough is slightly sticky but workable. Add salt and pepper (or other seasonings) to dough if desired. Be careful to add only the minimum amount of flour necessary in order to keep gnocchi light and airy.

Slowly adding flour to form a dough.

Dough is almost ready. Note it looks less tacky than in the above picture.
Turn dough out onto floured cutting board or kitchen counter and knead briefly, work into an oblong-shaped. Slice dough in half and then slice each half into half again resulting in four pieces of dough. Keep one section of dough on the counter and place the other three sections back in the mixing bowl. Cover with a towel to keep moist.

Gnocchi dough ready to be cut into sections. 
At this point begin heating water in a wide-mouth sauce pan or wok over medium-high heat until water is simmering. You want gentle bubbles rising occasionally but not a full rolling boil. Keep water simmering while you make the gnocchi.

Roll your section of dough out into a long "snake" like shape much like making a pretzel. If your dough is too sticky to roll properly, add a little extra flour to your board and roll the dough to incorporate the flour until dough is more manageable. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough log into pieces a half inch in size or so.

Close up of gnocchi pieces before they've been shaped by the fork. 
Using your fork, gently press the tines into a small piece of the dough and roll the dough over the fork creating a cylindrical shape out of the dough. You should see little tine marks in each piece of dough when you're done.

Don't worry if all your gnocchi don't look alike. They'll still taste good.
Working in batches drop your newly shaped gnocchi into the simmering water. Simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the gnocchi begin floating to the surface of the water. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels or a baking pan to dry.

Remove another section of dough from your mixing bowel and begin rolling and shaping more gnocchi. Each time you shape the dough you'll get a little bit better and making even gnocchi but as long as they're all roughly the same size they'll cook just fine.

Gnocchi drying on a pizza pan.
I've found that I have just enough time to roll out and begin shaping one piece of dough before the previous batch of gnocchi is finished cooking. This means that there are a few minutes during the process each time that the water is simmering empty. That's a good time to check your water levels and make sure your pot is boiling dry. Also, I've found that by your 5th batch or so your water might be overly startchy and gloopy so its a good idea to add a little bit of fresh water to the pan every so often (when there isn't any pasta cooking that is).

And that's it! It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Give them a try. I love these little guys. If you're making these ahead and then serving the pasta later, you'll want to reheat them very briefly in simmering water before adding to your sauce unless your sauce is hot enough to warm them through.

I served my gnocchi with a pesto cream sauce this last time. I've also gone the more traditional route with a browned butter and sage sauce which is also very yummy. M isn't a huge squash fan so he only thought these were okay. I, on the other hand, ate two helpings.

Close up of the finished product.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A few recipe favorites

A snowy hello from Madison this morning! We got a light dusting last night and since we seems that winter has abandoned southern Wisconsin this year- it was a welcome sight. Or at least for the pup and I who love our morning walks in the quiet, snowy morning light. Alas for the dog and I, the temp is already above freezing and I doubt our snow will stick around.

I'll be back later today with a recipe post but this morning I wanted to link to a few new recipes I've found around the interwebs that I'm dying to try. 

If you've tried any of these recipes do let me know what you think!

Harissa Chickpea Stew from A Cozy Kitchen -M and I are big chickpea/garbanzo bean fans. We love them in stews and chili, homemade hummus and all sorts of other applications. Doesn't this stew look amazing? And I bet it smells even better!

Seared Bitter Green Salad from The Kitchn (Apartment Therapy's cooking site) -I'm a sucker for any sort of salad that incorporates a bitter or peppery green, some stinky cheese, fruit and/or nuts so this recipe appears to be right up my alley. And ohmygod how I love beets too. M is not much of a beet fan so we'll see if I end up making this just for my own lunch instead of dinner or I just convince him to give it a go. Either way this will be in my belly sometime very soon.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes from Canelle et Vanille -a dear friend who moved to Australia (!) last year just sent me this recipe and it looks scrumptious. I have two giant sweet potatoes sitting in my cupboard right now just waiting for the right recipe. This might be it. M doesn't really care for quinoa (sensing a theme here? While I don't want to make him out to be picky eater, I'm definitely a fan of more foods than he. I'll eat anything. Seriously.) but I think I'll give this recipe a go anyway and maybe add some goat cheese on top as a way to entice his taste buds. I'm loving this blog by the way. Her photography is nothing short of breathtaking! 

I'll report back when/if I make any of these recipes but for now I'm off to enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast. As I've typed this post I've been eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (with my finger no less) and I think that's a sign I need some real food...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Have a wonderful weekend! Over here at casa sunny side we're planning to take it relatively easy this weekend after our busy week. M will play some hockey, we'll both read way too much and eventually go grocery shopping since we're currently running out of food.

Speaking of grocery shopping, I've recently started clipping coupons. God, I know. I sound like your grandmother. But seriously, I think coupons can certainly be worth your time. I promise I haven't gone all crazy like those extreme coupon women (and occasional man) on TLC. But I do think I'll be able to cut my grocery bill by 30% this week with all the coupon's I clipped from our local paper. Awesome.

Here's tonight's dinner recipe. It was inspired by this cute blog I ran across the other day.

I'm loving Liz in her red and pink outfit for V-day! I've been following Liz's blog for awhile now and girl knows how to do office appropriate yet fun work wear. Rock on Liz.

If you're in the mood for a little more red & pink inspiration (they say color blocking is still trendy right now) head on over to Everybody, Everywhere and take a look at the reader submissions for their last outfit challenge.

These donuts and this wedding remind me of the six months I lived in Portland! I love that city and would happily move there in a heartbeat. Not that there's anything wrong with Madison of course. But Portland is well, Portland. And I'll leave it at that. Check out the bride's awesome blog as well!

Loving Lisa's ensemble here. Lisa is another lady who knows how to bring style and personality to the workplace. Plus since she lives in the south (the ATL to be exact) she's automatically cool. I think I need to find a striped dress ASAP!

And last but not least, I'll leave you with a picture of our Dean I snapped awhile back. This is his typical napping pose. Isn't he just the biggest ham you've ever seen? Greyhounds are just the funniest dogs.


My mother, love her to death, is not very domestic. When my brothers and I were growing up she didn't work outside the home for a variety of reasons (that I won't be delving into here) but that didn't mean she spent her days cleaning and cooking and decorating our home.

My mother cooked because her family had to eat. Likewise she did laundry because we needed clean underwear. She didn't subscribe to Better Homes & Gardens nor did she actually garden. And that's okay. My mother is her own person. But growing up, especially as I reached adolescence, I began to want to acquire some of those domestic skills and talents I never saw my mother perform. I idolized the mother of one of my childhood friends. Her house was immaculate, we ate hot cereal for breakfast anytime I slept over not cold cereal like at my house, and she was always making all of her meals from scratch. No kraft mac and cheese for them.

M's mother by the way, is a domestic queen. She's taught me a lot about cookware and the proper way to pronounce mache. Heck, she taught me what mache was. I digress...

Freshman year of college I subscribed to Real Simple magazine. Yes, you read that correctly. While all my suite mates were reading Cosmo and Seventeen I was devouring the pages of Real Simple. I loved all the organizational tips and tricks. I drooled over the "How to make a gourmet meal that your kids will actually eat in 30 minutes" articles and positively went nuts over features like "Ten basics every mom needs in her working wardrobe".

I was (er, am) a bit of an odd duck. Martha Stewart was my hero. Until she went to prison that is... but even then I forgave her. Because she taught me fifteen ways to use an old dryer sheet around my home... well my dorm room.

This isn't to say that I wasn't all "I am woman hear me roar" in college. I was. Women's Studies 101 changed my life. I mean that literally. I was raised in a very conservative, evangelical household in the Bible Belt south. In college I poured over the writings of Betty Friedan and her compatriots and became a staunch feminist.

One who liked to organize her bathroom tissue rolls. If I, at times, felt or saw anything contradictory about those roles then, I certainly do not now. I see no reason why I can't celebrate my organizational and domestic prowess while simultaneously pursuing gender equality in my relationship and a successful career outside of the home.

Which brings me to these past couple months (nearly three!) of unemployment/fun-employment/forced domesticity I've been living. It's been tough. I won't lie to you. At first, as with all new things, it was exciting! and fun! and relaxing! But recently it's become well, long. And somewhat tiresome.

Please don't see this as me complaining. Because I'm not trying to. I recognize how fortunate we are that I could leave my job in Philadelphia and we could afford to move to Madison together rather than having to do long-distance (again. ugh.) because M's salary wouldn't support us both. Plus the dog and cat of course.

But I'm so very ready for a new challenge. More specifically a job. I would love to be back in the workplace learning new skills and working long hours and worrying over meeting my first six months probationary goals. Would love it. Perhaps it would be different if M and I had children. Then I would see my work in our home as actually contributing to some greater, noble thing. But we don't. Hell, we're not even married. Which makes me that woman. You know, the one who lives off of her boyfriend and doesn't work. Yeah...

If I thought I actually had readers I'd see this post as something of a pathetic job wanted ad sent to the cosmic void that is the internet. But because I'm safely a little "nobody" in the bloggy world I feel alright putting this all out there.

So come on Madison, let's find me a job!

Happy Friday! I'll be back shortly with a round up of things I've been digging this week.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stress and some current crushes

Oy vey. Yesterday was not a "sunny side" sort of day. It began with a 5am wake-up call and ended with me sleeping on the couch so I didn't wake M up as I went on a late night crying jag for no apparent reason.

Well, in reality the reason was stress (And hormones. Gotta love those bad boys). Stress that's been building up over the past weeks and all came to a head yesterday with a M having a crazy busy work schedule, a day-long job interview for moi, and the pup's first day of doggy daycare. The baby was fine of course and had a lovely day but that doesn't mean I didn't worry about him all day while simultaneously trying to come across as witty and charming and bright for my interviewers. Not sure I actually accomplished that at all but at least I didn't spill anything on my clothes at lunch.

After the hot mess that was yesterday I decided to indulge in a little fantasy online retail therapy. Below are a few items I'm currently liking. I might actually try a few of them on in person this weekend but no new purchases for me until this whole jobless situation is rectified.

Pieced Colum Dress- Anthro

It seems the blogosphere is quite polarized by this dress. You either love it or you hate it. Personally I think its cute and would probably work quite well with my curvy (read: somewhat out of shape) figure. I'd like to try this one on at my local Anthro store over the weekend. I'll make sure to post a fitting room review if I do.

Spindrift sweatshirt- J. Crew

This seemingly simple sweatshirt from J. Crew has a lot going for it in my mind. First, its striped which is always chic and also quite trendy right now. Second, its a lovely shade of blue that is perfect for both late-winter and early spring wear. Third, it fits quite well with the layering look of blouse topped by tissue sweater or sweatshirt I've been rocking lately. Totally stole this meme from Linda by the way. She rocks this type of look all the time on her blog and always looks so effortlessly chic. A bonus to the whole sweatshirt over blouse dress code: M loves it on me for some reason. He's often less than thrilled with some of my sartorial choices (though he's often gracious and complements me anyway. A good man...) but this look he digs.

Slim cropped refined pants- Gap
I'm loving the slim cropped silhouette that seems to still be popular this spring. And these cute cropped skinny pants from the Gap are certainly more affordable than J. Crew's très popular Minnie pant. Although to be fair to J. Crew the Minnie pant does come in many more colors. Yeah, yeah I know what Angie from You Look Fab says about cropped pants but frankly I think she's completely wrong. They can work for LOTS of different types of women. You don't have to be rail-thin with long legs to work this look. Adding heels helps a lot of ladies and those of us with naturally long legs (and thus short of torso) can get away with wearing flats with these pants as well. Plus, you can essentially turn these babies into four season pants if you tuck them into tall boots in the fall and winter. A win-win for the budget-conscious folks like me.

Okay, these are just a few items I've been drooling over lately! I thought a happy fluffy little post might help brighten the mood over here at casa sunny side and I was right! Now if only I had the dough to score a couple of these items for myself... ah a girl can dream. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

OOTD 2.10.12

OOTD 2.10.12

In real life the skirt is more of a taupe and black stripe. This one that Dea
from the Dea Diaries is wearing here. She makes the outfit look so cute
I had to try it for myself. Spruced up my plain jane crew neck Gap
sweater with a skinny belt that matches my boots. While the skirt looks
suuper short on the forever21 model mine hits me at a nice right-above-the-knee
length. And its very stretchy so even though I'm much curvier than Dea, it doesn't
cling inappropriately. Never thought I'd say that about an article of clothing
from f21 but thankfully in this case it's true!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Came down with a bit of a cold yesterday afternoon and it proceeded to get worse (and more annoying) as the night wore on. As in I woke up at least 15 times last night... Feeling pretty yucky so today's post will be brief. 

M was such a darling this morning! He got up early because he's super busy at work this morning but instead of popping in the shower and then on his way he took the dog out, made me coffee, brought me meds and some water and was just generally the sweetest thing! Because of all his generosity he ended up leaving later than ever for work... I hope he made it on time. He also took a hodgepodge of a lunch today as I managed to drag myself from bed long enough to throw a few things in his lunch box for him... Hope it's edible.

Anyway, as I lie here in bed snuggled up with our fluffy comforter and the cat I thought about things that always make me feel a bit better when I'm sick. A steaming beverage in my favorite mug, cute little tissues, slippers for chilly feet. Things like that. Somehow when I'm sick the little details (like finding my best coffee cup) seem to make me feel a little better.

What makes you feel better when you've got the sniffles?

Isn't this tissue box cover DIY I found on Design Sponge just lovely? If you're gonna be availing yourself of tissues ALL DAY long like I am might as well keep them in something eye-catching and pretty! If you're not feeling too under the weather this might be the perfect project for a sick-day.


M and I have a lovely set of white dishes that my Nana generously gave us shortly after we moved in together (over a year and a half ago!). We use them everyday and they're pretty enough to use for company as well. They've solid dishes, oven safe and I think we'll have them for years to come. Each place setting came with a coffee cup and we use them on a daily basis as well. But my favorite coffee mug is a big bowl-like contraption from Starbucks that I swear holds at least 12 ounces of hot beverage with room to add milk. I use this mug when I'm making a big cup of tea to last me for awhile or when we're having "French inspired" breakfasts (think good bread with creamy honey, yogurt, etc) complete with café au lait. Its more of a bowl than a coffee mug which is why it's so great. You can use it for soups and stews, late night cereal attacks, etc. My mug is similar to the one below- except bigger.


In my opinion one of the most important things you need when you're sick are comfy pjs. Somehow having your warm (and cute!) jammies makes you feel a little better. My current set of pjs looks nothing like these at all but here are a few I'm lusting after:




Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Can we all (and by "all" I mean me of course since no one else reads this) just ignore that last post on the South Beach Diet. Turns out I really like eating things other than eggs, string cheese and celery. I also really HATE sugar substitute products. Slash, I think they'll probably give us all cancer one day... So I stopped the SBD. And instead I'm trying to focus on conscious and conscientious eating. Meaning, eat when I'm hungry, don't binge/emotionally overeat. Eat healthy food primarily and allow some room for un-healthy foods lest I go completely crazy.

Today, for example, I had half an english muffin topped with sauteed spinach and an egg for breakfast. Couple cups of coffee with a little almond milk. It was absolutely divine. Lunch was more of a grazing affair. A couple of clementines, some string cheese (Still like it. Just don't like it to be such a huge part of my diet like it was during the four days of SBD-induced hell I participated in), and some roasted wasabi seaweed snacks. YUM.

Dinner was an assortment of roasted veggies including THESE babies. My newest obsession and completely amazing in every which way. It's like eating candy. I swear. Finished dinner with a cup of sugar free hot chocolate (with a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powdered added to darken it up a bit. I like my chocolate on the bittersweet side) and a splash or two of soy milk. I may or may not have also eaten a dark chocolate lindt truffle. Hey, its that time of the month-- if you know what I mean.

And I'm completely satisfied and full from the day's meals. When I felt peckish, I ate. When I didn't, I didn't. I think grazing is good for me because I tend to opt for healthier food choices throughout the day rather than forcing myself to sit down and eat a huge salad or something for dinner so I can meet my nutritional goals. Plus the SBD is really freakin' annoying in it's focus on protein. I've never eaten that many eggs in my life and I never want to ever again. Plus, who said carbs are ALWAYS bad? Last night's dinner was a lemon spinach pasta with spicy shrimp. Plus a little parm and non-fat greek yogurt for creaminess. It was great. AND healthy. Even with the carbs.

I've found that denying myself certain foods or food groups is the fastest way for me to binge eat and fail at a diet. Like with the SBD I simply caved one afternoon and ate three M&M cookies slathered in peanut butter with a side of honey nut cheerios. Something I'd never do normally. But by forcing myself to not eat carbs or sugar I went a little nuts. So no more of that.

I'm reading up on the Mediterranean diet and loving what I've read so far. Speaking of which, here's a cool blog I found a few weeks ago. She follows a mainly med eating plan and her recipes are wonderful.

In summary: SBD is out. Healthy, non-restrictive approach to food is in. Which is great because we moved to WISCONSIN. As in, "America's Dairy Land" according to our license plate. They take their Friday fish fries and burgers pretty seriously too here. And home of the craft brew. Although, I do think Philly might challenge Wisconsin for that title. We love our beer in Phila too. Come to think of it we do in Portland as well... Hmm... I'm beginning to sense a theme with my cities of choice thus far...