Monday, January 31, 2011

Delicious Dinner Party

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Danial and I were planning a dinner party.  The party got pushed back because of some tough stuff and it quite honestly couldn't have come at a better time.  During the holidays everyone is rushing from here and there and it was great to have everyone together for a causal dinner.

Danial and I were lucky enough to win and host an Annie Chun's dinner party.  When we first found out about the party we were really excited and I'll be honest, we were a little nervous.  Danial and I had never thrown a dinner party before.  I was nervous that we wouldn't be able to pull it off or it was going to be out of our budget to host a party. 
I know a lot of people probably spent quiet a bit of money getting everything together for the party: decorations, invitations, favors, etc.  It was important for us to cook great food, have great conversation, and prove that you can pull of a great party without a lot of money.  (Have a huge box free Annie Chun's didn't hurt. Haha)
We did put up some decorations.  These were Chinese lanterns I had from college.  I had planned to go all out for decorations, but it really wasn't in the budget and to be quite honest, I'm glad we didn't put up any more (because you have to taken them down at the end of the night).  :-)
We had a great goup of friends stop by and Danial's family even made it over.  It is always great when a big group of friends can get together and have great conversation.  It was especially nice because all of the people that were at the party will be a part of the wedding, so it was a great opportunity for Danial's family to meet our friends.  When the wedding rolls around, everyone will recognize a friendly face.
This Gochujang Sauce Korean Sweet & Spicy sauce is the best!!!  It is spicy but not overwhelming.  During the dinner party guests used it with spring rolls, but since the party I have been using it on scrambled eggs and veggie burgers.  If you are a meat eater, there is a recipe on the bottle tag to make burgers with the sauce mixed in. 
On to the important stuff....THE FOOD.
First off, I was so impressed at how easy the recipes were.  I was a little overwhelmed due to the mass of food we made.  We had about 12-14 guests throughout the night and we cooked two entrees: Chicken Chow Mein and Vegetable Pad Thai.  Aside from the large amount of food we had to cook, the recipes were really easy to make.  It is easy to get intimated by the amount of ingredients some recipes call for and I was pleasantly surprised that there weren't too many ingredients for any of the recipes.  Note to anyone else planning a party: chopping and prepping ingredients before you start cooking is key if you are cooking for a large group.)
Another thing I really appreciated about Annie Chun's product is their recipes are on the back of their packaging.  Nothing is more frustrating when making a meal that to hunt down a recipe when you are just ready to eat dinner.  The recipes on the back of the boxes were simple, easy to read, and included ingredient lists.  The website also has additional recipes sorts by diet type, occasion, and time. 
Secondly, the recipes were very easy to alter.  Our group of friends are split pretty evenly between vegetarian and meat eaters.  The Pad Thai recipe on the box of rice noodles was really easy to alter by leaving out the animal ingredients.  I substituted bok choy in the recipe and it was great.  Hindsight being what it is, I wish I would have picked up some firm tofu and added that to the mix as well.  (I wish they had some vegetarian appetizer options.  Since we live close to an Asian market, we picked up some spring rolls to use as additional appetizers.)
Good food fast!  I know I keep saying how surprised I was as I was cooking this meal, but it is true.  The recipes cooked really quickly (even for the large amount of food we cooked).  The thing I liked most about the food was it tasted healthy!  I have made stir fry in the past at home and I have always been knocked out by the sodium content in other brand's sauces.  The Annie Chun's sauces were great because they tasted amazing without being overloaded with salt. 
Annie Chun's = AFFORDABLE!  Very rarely can you afford to make a restaurant quality meal at home, but this Asian cuisine is the exception!  Even if we hadn't received the bulk of our food for free it still would have been an affordable option for a dinner party.  I know without a doubt Annie Chun's will be in our dinner rotation.  The noodles, sauces, and appetizers were all great prices.  We had to go to the store to pick up the appetizers (found in the frozen section) and we were pleasantly surprised at how affordable everything was: sauces, appetizers, noodles, and rice.  Next time we go to Whole Foods I am going to pick up some Seaweed Snacks to try.
While we didn't have the funds to throw an extravagant affair (we are trying to plan a wedding remember?), we did want to send our guests home with a little something....
During our trip to the local Asian Market we picked up some goodies: Haw fruit candy and melon gum.  (If you have ethnic markets in your city, I suggest you go!  It was such a fun afternoon for Danial and I.  We touched everything in the store, smelled things we have never smelled before and bought food we have never tried before.  We will definetly be going back.)  Haw fruit candy is a natual candy made from the Hawthorn fruit.  It was interesting and refreshing after a savory meal.  The melon gum reminded me of Chicklets but was AMAZING!  I may go back to the market just for the gum alone!  We also placed the coupons that Annie Chun's provided us in our guests' mini-takeout boxes.  While you weren't at the party to get a coupon, you can visit the Annie Chun's website to download your own $1 off coupon here when you sign up for their newsletter.
While I hope we win the contest, it really isn't about that.  It was great to be in the kitchen with Danial working on creating a great meal and an overall great evening for our friends and family.  It was also great to cook recipes we normally go out for.  At the end of the night we had already started planning our next party.  Thanks Annie Chun's!  It was a great night!
Enjoy the video.  Danial is narrating and it is hilarious to listen to.  I love the comments of "love" in the background. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Best lunch ever

The best lunch ever has nothing to do with food.  (If you must know, I ate left over Pad Thai from our dinner party over the weekend.  I ate this on my morning break.)
The best lunch ever involves a shop to DSW for a new pair of shoes.

I went to the store looking for something like this:
These are Steve Madden "Docile"
(I bought a pair of Bandolino shoes similar to these in black and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them.)

I ended up walking about with these bad boys (in brown, the same brown as above):

The shoes were 40% off!!!
Now...these shoes on my feet say Steve Madden, the box says Steve Madden, but I can't find them anywhere online, except listed as Aldo shoes.  While this confuses me, I don't really care that much because these shoes are so cute!  I tried them on with tights and they are adorable and I think they will look equally cute with bare legs in the spring/summer.  I'm excited to wear them this weekend for our friend's birthday dinner (weather permitting).

On a side note, as I was looking for pictures of these shoes, I discovered something that really freaks me out: HAUL VIDEOS.  I had to "google it" because I had no idea what these girls were talking about.  Bascially tweens and teens post videos about all the stuff they buy while shopping. 
Watch this video and you'll understand why I'm weirded out (PS. she says "funner" in this video and I almost screamed because she said it 3-4 times).  I think these videos goes way beyond someone saying "hey, check out this really cool thing I got" (Like I have done above).  I think it is promoting the wrong message about shopping and materialistic items. (This is the reason I pray that Danial and I have boys someday.) 
Anything thoughts?  NPR did a story about it and you can read that here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fancy Frocks

After all that engagement session inspiration my eyes have been drawn to lots of pretty dress and unique items for our engagement session. 
Here are some items that have caught my eye...
1) Cooperative Linen Day Dress (Brown) available at Urban Outfitters
2) Polka Dot Dress available at Delias
3) ASOS Shirred Waist Frill Detail Dress available at ASOS (US)
4) dreaming in color lace ruffle dress in mustard available at Ruche
5) Soho Salt & Pepper Dress available at Poetrie

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Engagement Session Inspiration

As our wedding day gets closer I am getting more and more excited for our photography options.  Our photographers, the wonder Ely Brothers are shooting our engagement photos and our wedding.  Not only are they fantastically talented, they are the nicest guys around. 
As we get deeper into wedding planning, I keep coming across engagement photos that I am in love with...
1) Camping Session.
Photos by Shannen Norman via Green Wedding Shoes
2) A Relaxed Session
3) Baking.  (I wish our house was this cute!)
Photos by Hello Studios via Project Wedding.

4) Together.  (Go to Sarah's website to view the rest of these, this couple is so cute.)
Photos by Sarah Rhoads via Brooklyn Bride.

Note to sefl: get more tattoos and cute dresses. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Definition: Fete

Definition: an elaborate party (often outdoors), celebrate: have a celebration.

Anthropologie, you got it right on the money.

I may have to buy this for Spring.

I would also need a few of these (remind me of Fergus), and these to give as a wedding gift later this year, this sweater for spring engagement photos, and these cuties just for good measure.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The tough stuff

This week has been tough. Really tough.

A friend passed away this week. You see tragedy on the television, you hear about it through the blogosphere, but it never really feels the same until it hits close to home.

This situation was extremely hard because we were just celebrating his wedding this past summer and now he is gone. The moment Dan told me, I couldn’t stop thinking about his wife and the day they got married. I remember watching him looking at her and thinking to myself, “Everyone should have this.” I cried that day, as I have in the recent days. He had such a good heart and loved the people around him, it was easy to see. He lived life to the fullest. He filled up a life, which was too short.

It is hard to find just the right words or to know exactly what to do or feel in situations like this. I kept picturing this man and his beautiful bride on their wedding day...
I took down my pen the day after we heard the news and wrote this letter to Dan. It’s sad that such tragic events cause us to have feelings and thoughts that we wouldn’t have otherwise.


I can’t wait to marry you. I can’t wait to call you my husband. I can’t wait to kiss you the first time as my HUSBAND! I look forward to making beautiful babies with you—I hope they have your lips, my eyes, your compassion, and my determination. I can’t wait to teach our little people how to build blanket-forts and learn to skateboard. To appreciate The Beatles, The Flaming Lips, and Johnny Cash. I can’t wait to teach them about black and white movies and introduce them to Legos. Most importantly, I can’t wait to teach them how to live a good life: be good to those around you, don’t be afraid to lend a hand (or an ear) when you can. To try new things and to love without fear. To say “I’m sorry” and “I was wrong.”

Until then, until those great memories etch their way into our hearts and souls, I pledge to live our lives with more passion and adventure. Too often we wait for something bad to happen and wish “I would’ve…” I don’t want us to every say that.

Let 2011 be the year for US. We are only in this moment once—let us live it up. (Year from now, with our little dark haired babies asleep in the next room, I don’t want us to say that we should have done more before they came into our lives.)

I know we are limited by money (and free time) but we aren’t limited on creativity and love. This year, let’s get out and try new things—explore the places (and people) around us. Let’s allow life to sink in. This may mean slowing down a little and taking a breath and feel the moment with everything we have.

Sitting here in the silence, with Fergus warming my feet, I realize all our blessings. We have built a great life together (on our own, on our own time): we have a dog, a house/home, amazing friendships, good jobs, and a love for each other. Our little slice of Earth. To think, we have it all because you took a chance on me. If you think about it…it’s pretty amazing we ever found each other. We really are the luckiest.
All my love, for always,


All I can say is, squeeze the people you love extra tight tonight.  Kiss them often.  Tell them you love them.  Show them you love them.  Love with all you have.  Take this life and make it whatever you want it to be: it's yours to make.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dinner Party: Planning

So, I've been mentioning that Danial and I are throwing a dinner party.  I guess its about time to give you more details about the party.

Danial and I were lucky enough to win an Annie Chun's dinner party.  Annie Chun's sent us a huge box of their natural Asian cuisine products: rice, noodles, and sauces.  The "party box" also included receipe options, chopsticks for our guests.  I was excited just opening the box.

So, not only do we get to throw a party for our friends and family, but we also get a chance to win $500.  This has got to be the easiest contest I've ever heard of: throw a dinner party, eat great food, have fun with your friends, and take pictures/videos.  Count me in!

It has been great to collaborate with Danial on this party and come up with some great ideas.  One of the first things we did was create our guest list and our invitations.  We used to create the e-vites.  I really loved this website because it allows you to edit their current templates to your color choices.  It was also easy to add guest lists and keep track of who is coming and who hasn't even looked at your invitation yet.  (Pretty awesome stuff.)

Here are the e-vites that we sent out:

I will be doing some additional posts about the dinner party and the days leading up to it.  Next post will be decorating and organizing for the party.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Not-So-Funday

Sundays have become the day where I try to shove 3 days worth of stuff into one day.  Truthfully, its about 3 days worth of stuff in about 8 hours.  (Danial and I like to sleep in on Sundays.) 
Today's agenda includes, but is not limited to:
- Asian Market for decorations and goodies for our dinner party (more to come0
- Homework.  I am a huge procrastinator and I have one paper to write, a quiz to take and some online presentations to work out.
- Laundry.
- Clean and decorate house for dinner party
- Grocery store for food for the week
- Spend time with Danial.

Making lists used to make feel good, these days lists do nothing but make me anxious and make me want to throw in the towel.  But then....I watch this video and realize tomorrow is another day and tomorrow laundry may get done (or not).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quick questions....

I have so much homework to do this evening (on top of the 5 loads of laundry that have been piling up for two weeks now).
So in lieu of a quality post, I have a few questions that have been floating in my head all day.  I would love to hear your opinions.
As Babs would say, "talk amongst yourselves."

1) The Knot.
Normally I ignore The Knot, as most people should, but today it was impossible.  Their question today was, "Would you fiance wear an engagement ring?"  I almost spit my coffee out of my nose when I read it on my phone this morning.  (Please take no offense if your man is wearing an engagement ring.  Or as they called it, a "man"agement ring.)  The feminish in me was so apalled by this question.  My gut response was "why would he wear an engagement ring?!"  And then I though, why do I wear an engagement ring?  First off, I love my engagement ring, it is my grandma's engagement ring.  She wore it everyday since she was 16 and wore it up until the day she gave it to Dan to give to me.  However....I don't NEED an engagement ring.  I don't even NEED a wedding band.  Its not the little metal band on my finger that proves I have a committment to Danial.  It is the day-in-day-out that proves I have a committment to him.  It is staying by his side when things are good and when they are ugly.  Really ugly. 
The rings on our fingers are merely an outward symbol of what is in our hearts and minds.  But...why do we really need a symbol?  I feel like many people would want their man to wear an engagement ring because it proves that they are "off the market".  (Many women said this on Facebook today).  My thought it, if you have to mark your man to prove he is off the market, perhaps he shouldn't be your man?  I mean...if your man is approached at a bar, the grocery store, or wherever.  Shouldn't he have the balls and COMMITTMENT to you to say, I'm flattered, but I'm engaged or married, or whatever it is?
I don't know why, but this whole idea really pissed me off.  I am committed to Danial and no metal on my finger proves that to anyone.
Now...don't get me wrong.  I wear an engagement ring and I will wear a wedding ring.  The thing that really got to me was the fact that some of these women commenting were really pushing the fact that they wanted to show their committment to others.  Shouldn't the only person you have to show your committment to your partner?
What do you think?  Would you even want your man to wear an engagement ring?
Am I out in left field on this one?

2) No kids at the wedding/wedding reception. 
As our big day gets closer and closer I am getting really anxious about telling our friends and family that our wedding will be an adult only affair. 
Don't get me wrong.  I love kids.  A lot goes into their decision.  Our venue requires that we hire a baby sitter if we have more than 10 children at the wedding under the age of 12.  Most of our friends have kids, so more than likely we would have to hire a baby sitter.  Additionally, we have to pay per plate for kids meal (regardless if the children eat the meal or not).  Also...I want our friends to enjoy our wedding and not worry about a fussy baby.  We are having an evening wedding that will probably last well into the evening and I would hate to that our friends had to leave early to get their babies home. 
Is it wrong to have an adult onlky wedding/wedding reception?
How would you announce this to the family?

3) I am getting sort of overwhelmed with this wedding planning business.  The wedding is now 9 months away and I realize that we haven't really planned anything aside from the dress, the venue, and our photographers.  People ask me tons of questions about the wedding: who is doing your hair, how will you wear your hair, what types of invitations will you have, etc.  My answer to everything has been "I don't know." All I know is that I can't wait to marry Dan.  I would marry him tomorrow without any of that bridal stuff. do I get excited about this wedding planning stuff without getting too overwhelemed?  What is a nice way to tell people to stop asking me questions?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bridesmaid dresses

This weekend I picked up my wedding dress and I also picked out some bridesmaid dress options.
It was really important for me to try the dresses on and make sure I felt comfortable in the options.  I woiuld never want my girls to wear dresses that they didn't like or feel comfortable in.
I can honestly say that I would 100% wear either of the two dresses I selected.  I still haven't decided on a color yet.  I tried the dress on in a navy blue, but they also come in dark plum color.  I think I may have the bridesmaids where the navy blue and my maid of honor wear the plum color?  What do you think?
1) Bill Levkoff, Style 380
2) Bill Levkoff, Style 675
With this option, I would have the seamstress cut that little drapey thing off and just make it a one should strap. 

All in all, I really loved these dresses and could see all my girls in them.  I love my bridesmaids and above all, I want them to feel beautiful and comfortable on our wedding day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My head is spinning

Okay, so I'm back to blogging, but getting back to the gym was a little harder than I expected it to be.  Let's just say that attempting to get to the 5:45 am spinning class is probably not my greatest idea.  I'm not going to give up though, there are two more early morning classes this week, so I will give it another shot later in the week.
It is only Janurary and I realize that this year may be one of the most challenging years yet.  This week my Internet Marketing class starts (only 4 more classes left until graduation #2).  This weekend I have a baby shower to attend.  Next weekend Danial and I are throwing a dinner party (more on this later).  Also, we realized that we need to book a DJ for the wedding soon and we also need to finalize our wedding party and start thinking about Save the Dates. 
You will notice a few different changes happening here over the next few weeks.  I am slowly learning HTML and bloggy design.  S-L-0-W-L-Y.  Please hang in there as these changes are made.
I stole a picture from my friend's Facebook page of Danial and I on Halloween.
Danial: Grease Monkey    Lindsay: Frenchman
This photo is the prime reason one of my goals for 2011 was to take more pictures.  I don't want to depend on others for my memories.

2011 Goals

Every year I create "New Years Resolutions."  Last year I even wrote these down and posted them in the kitchen.  Instead of providing encouragement and inspiration the poster served as nothing but a nagging reminder of how pathetic my self control and will power is.  I ripped said poster in shreds by February 1st.
This year there will be no condescending poster, no "resolutions".  Instead, I am creating "2011's 11 Goals".  Somehow I think by calling them goals, I won't be so hard on myself if by April I haven't reached by goals.  Goals are flexible and forgiving, resolutions...they just aren't.
Without further delay, here are my 11 goals:
1) Entertain friends and family at our home more often.
2) Cook more meals (frozen pizza does not count).
3) Make time for myself: read books for fun, reward myself for hard work, spend quiet time alone, decompress more. 
4) Be good to my body.  Not only because I am vain (like most everyone else), but because it is the right thing to do.  Danial and I plan to make babies sometime in the next decade and I want this body to be in tip-top baby producing shape.  Until then, I would like to look as good as I can in my skinny jeans and in my wedding dress.
5) Pick up the phone more.  Texting has started to rule our world, but it doesn't have to.  I promise that in the new year, rather than texting, I will press "send" and have a conversation with friends and family rather than attempting conversations in 160 characters or less.
6) Get married and have a great marriage.  In short, I don't want to get sucked into the wedding "day" I want to get immersed in a marriage.  So far, so good.  I just want to do the damn thing already!  I can't wait to be a Mrs.
7) Give back to the community.
8) Do more with less.  This year I am going to participate in Kendi's 30 for 30 challenge.  I currently buy about 30-40% of my clothing at thrift stores.  However, I do agree with the philosophy that creativity is born through limitations.  Watch out world (and co-workers), I'm about to wear the same three pairs of pants for 30 days. 
9) Get outside of my comfort zone.  2011 is already holding a lot of new things: marriage and a second degree.  I want 2011 to be the year of "new".  I am going to try new foods, new experiences, new music, new friends, etc.  I know that I may not like some of things I try, but at least I can say that I gathered the courage to try.
10) Explore more.  (This sort of goes along with #9, but since it involves traveling, I'm giving it its own number.)  Ohio has a lot to offer and in 2011 I plan to get out and see it all.  I want to explore tiny towns and find some gems in the big city. 
11) Capture life more.  Danial and I have tons of pictures from the early years of our relationship, not nearly as much from the last few years.  2011 is going to be the year I start to capture my life in flim and paper.  I want to keep track of experiences and people in my life. 

What are your goals for 2011.  Did you reach any goals in 2010?
Related Posts with Thumbnails