Jan 28, 2011

An Entirely New Closet

I'm having one of those times when you stare at your closet, sigh repeatedly, and wish you could turn it all in and start over.  Wouldn't that be neat?  If you could get equal credit and constantly recycle your clothes?  Stores and clothing manufacturers are shaking their heads in disgust at me right now. 

It's one of those times when I wish Stacey and Clinton would pop up, show me unflattering footage of my behind, then present me with some rules and $5,000 to buy some clothes.  I adore all of Stacey London's clothes, so I think we would have a lovely time shopping and gossiping about her days at Vogue.

However, I think I have cute style, and Hubs assures me that my behind looks good, so I don't think that WNTW is going to come knocking (although, I'm sure some of you disagree- if so feel free to nominate me!).

So, if I wasn't on a spending freeze, I would pop over to ModCloth and revamp my wardrobe with these dresses-

This one is a perfect winter dress- tweed to balance out the short sleeves and mini length, but flair!  Winter does not have enough flair opportunities.  Bundling weighs down flair.

Back tights and flats for a night out, or bare legs and heels to dress it up.  It would be ideal for Kinger's engagement party this weekend. 

Next up is the Opera which is Valentine's weekend.  Probably the last time I could get away with velvet for the season, but I am in love with this dress.  Red, full skirted, patterned and a touch of gold?  Pretty much right in my wheelhouse.

This one is even more versatile, as it could transition into spring and summer quite nicely.  I do have several rehearsal dinners coming up. . . .with my favorite gold peep toes?  My charm bracelet? It would be darling!  I love the pleats above the tummy- enables me to eat away. . .always a crucial factor when one is toasting and imbibing for long periods.*

Oh, and this one for Cotillion in March.  This sequin number-sigh.  I love it.  It's on sale!  But spending freeze.  Perfect for black tie where most people wear long dresses though.  Short but very formal.  Oh, it's so sparkly with that early 60's silhouette I just adore.

 I think I could rock that silhouette at work too, in this number.  Simple yet fun to wear.

*hubs is baffled when I present dress selections with the caveat that "I can eat in this one".  He insists that one meal does not immediately show in your stomach.  Obviously, men have different stomachs, or he is delusional.  Right ladies?

So there are my reasonably priced choices.  Now, if y'all have any desire to buy me this dress still, I will gladly take it, and wear it to any and all of the above events I can.

Jan 27, 2011

Running to Eggs

On Top Chef Allstars the other night (are y'all watching?- it's Fab-io, get it? hee.), Anthony Bourdain remarked you could put a runny egg on just about anything, and he would enjoy it.  Hubs likes his eggs scrambled to the consistent of dried peas   cooked to death   well done.  I, on the other hand, prefer a fluffy moist cloud of buttery yellow deliciousness.  And fried eggs?  Once I discovered the joy that is sopping up runny egg yolk with the remains of a biscuit, well, I was a goner.  True freedom came when I learned to make eggs by myself- the first food I can remember making without assistance.

Now, with all these creamy vegetable soups, something with a little protein, and a some light crisp is necessary.  A grilled cheese is classic, but I'm out of bread, and needed to get some extra veggies in.  Staring at my fridge this afternoon, I pondered.  Determined to clean out my fridge- I've got a lot of soup in there thanks to Soup Week, I stared and pondered some more.

Then thought of Anthony Bourdain.

Mixed greens topped with a scant spoonful of this wonderful dressing, which tastes homemade, and is ideal to keep in your fridge for lazy or time-pressed moments.  Two gently cooked eggs, yolks perfectly runny (low heat is key, patience, darling, patience), a touch of salt and pepper (always salt your dressed salad green which a touch of sea-salt or kosher).  The egg yolk mixes with the vinegar of the dressing- the same blend of creaminess and acidity which forms hollandaise and mayonnaise.  A deconstructed white sauce, without a profusion of oil or butter- perfect for those with mayo-phobia.

And I felt so elegant, having my tomato bisque and salad with eggs- like a lady who lunches in a chic bistro.  Of course, I was sitting at my old heart pine kitchen table, reading a trashy novel, with a furry blonde Buddy at my feet.   With this simple salad though, my suit became more stylish, my messy bun effortless elegance, and my glass of seltzer a wonderful champagne cocktail.

Perhaps eggs are good for your imagination?

Jan 26, 2011

Deep Breathing and Ulcers

When I first moved back to Knoxville, I took the bar, dealt with a major family upheaval/shift/crisis, planned a wedding, renovated a bachelor pad condo, and practiced my first year of law. 

And picked up an ulcer along the way, unsurprisingly.

I feel like right now I am about to pick up another one.

This time instead of several major life events, it's a multitude of little things- work, volunteer obligations, and social stuff.

Now, I've never been one to let party planning stress me out, but being out of town every weekend from here til June can get a sister a bit tense.

As part of my ulcer fix, I was told to manage my stress.  Hmmpphh.  Easy to say.  Tres difficult to do.
Exercise helps- and I loved leaving work before six to catch a kick-boxing class- "Doctor's orders!"

Tra la.

Now, yoga is supposed to do wonders to tame the never-ending chant of  "need to do _____" that is on repeat in my brain.  However, I need to bounce! Holding myself upside down while being told to relax, is the least cathartic thing I can do.  Don't misunderstand me, I like yoga, (especially when it's over) but I don't find it relaxing.  Kicking a punching bag, or pelvic thrusting in Jazzercise on the other hand. . .

So, I am going to stop freaking out and hiding my head in the sand.  I am going to tackle to my to-do list, and work through it slowly and surely. 

And Zumba*. Or something.  It is better to hit punching bags than other people right?

*Have y'all done this?  Is the music annoying?  I have no rhythm- is it possible for me to participate?

Any tips for me? 

Jan 25, 2011

Creamy Green for Gray Days

Rainy days I like to come home for lunch, and sit and watch the rain with Buddy.  He loves to stare at the window at squirrels, birds, and his nemesis- ba, dum, dum- the black cat who lives across the street.  I love to be driving down our street, and see his perked ears and bright black eyes in the window (ruff! ruff!).

While he patrols the trees, I supped on some Cream of Asparagus soup, from Pam Anderson's weight loss cookbook.

6 c. chicken broth

2 t olive oil or butter
1 medium onion diced
1/2 t tarragon
2/3 c instant rice
2 lbs asparagus (I used 2 bunches), trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
1 c. light sour cream
Parmesan to top

  • microwave broth until hot set aside
  • heat oil in dutch oven over medium high heat
  • add onion and sauté until tender and translucent
  • stir in tarragon and rice
  • add asparagus
  • add broth
  • bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered until asparagus and rice are tender (about 7-8 minutes)
  • either pour into blender covered with a dishtowel and puree or whip out your immersion blender, and blend baby!
  • take soup off heat and stir slowly in the sour cream
  • salt and pepper to your liking
  • Top with freshly grated Parmesan
This soup is creamy from the rice- I used whole-grain white rice, but unlike a lot of cream of [fill in the blank] soups, this one tastes primarily of asparagus, not gunk.  If you don't appreciate asparagus, you should not make this soup.  Or you could substitute another vegetable, such as broccoli. . . let me know how it goes!

The other issue one must look out with this tasty green concoction?


Forewarned is forearmed my friends.

Jan 21, 2011

Some Whine With My Cheese

Random things I strongly dislike doing:

1.  Hanging up clothes.  Throwing them on the guest bed is far more efficient, no?

2.  Listening to voice-mail on my cell phone.  Sorry- I currently have 14.  If I have not responded to you in the last couple of days, that is why.  I'm sticking my head in the sand and ignoring you.  Not intentionally though. 

3.  Putting up silverware.  Cups, plates, bowls, I will put away without complaint.  This is not helped by the fact that Hubs is very upset that 2 sets of stainless silverware have gotten mixed together.  He mentions this every time he puts away the clean silverware (emptying the dishwasher is normally his chore).  I have explained that mixed silver does not bother me.  Therefore, I am not going to take the likely 15 minutes it would take to remedy this problem to actually fix it.  Apparently neither is he.  Hmmmm, possible Valentine's Day present?  "Honey, I sorted the silverware!  Love you!"

Things I do like:

1.  A hot bath with a stack of fresh new magazines.
2.  Coming home to a clean house that I didn't clean.
3.  When other people make me sandwiches- they always taste better.

Looking over this post, I can only come to one conclusion. 

I'm incredibly lazy.  I just would rather be laying in bed with a book.  Is that so wrong?

Jan 20, 2011

White Chili for the Soul

Yesterday was a rotten day.  I was tired, overwhelmed with cramps, and someone was mean to me (waaaahhhh).  Today I had creamy white chicken chili for lunch.

Today was a good day.

I love soup week.

Jan 19, 2011

Toe- MAY-toe Sooo-PUH!

I love tomato soup!  Hubs even gave me a tomato soup ornament last year, because I love it so.  I inhale vast quantities of Pacific Reduced Sodium Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup- I keep small containers in my office for tomato soup pang emergencies.  It's wonderful.

Even better?  Homemade tomato bisque! 

Even better?  Homemade tomato bisque that is good for you and takes about ten minutes to make!

This is a Pam Anderson recipe.  Do you have any of her cookbooks?  If not, you should.  They are wonderful.  This is so delightful in that it's 125 calories a bowl, but doesn't taste "lightened".  At a certain point, I gave up all that stuff that was supposed to taste "just like _____, only healthy"  I would rather just have the real thing (along with a ton of veggies to balance everything out of course).  There are exceptions- lower fat cheeses, sour cream and milk don't bother me.

Anyway, this Tomato Bisque is delicious and rich.  And so easy.

  • 1 medium large onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 5 ox can evaporated milk
Chop the onion and sauté in it the olive oil for about 5 minutes.
Add the curry powder and cook another minute
Add the tomatoes and baking soda
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes
Add the milk and evaporated milk
Here, you can either transfer everything to a blender (covered with a dishtowel to prevent a tomato soup explosion) or whip out your handy dandy immersion blender and puree away!
Bring back to a simmer to meld all the flavors completely, and you're done!

This took me ten minutes last night. Add a grilled cheese, and it's rainy day heaven.

Add a small cup with your sandwich at lunch, and you're one veg closer to that 7-9 goal!

Jan 18, 2011

Soup Week Begins!

So when the weather is frightful for days on end, sometimes you begin to get a little stir crazy.  When you start dressing up your huge dog in your own clothing. . .well, it's time to take preventative measures.

Like gumbo!  Stirring a roux to a perfect chocolate brown conclusion is a time consuming but productive way to spend a half hour.  And the result (preferably enjoyed snuggled up in front of the fire after a day of sledding) is soo worth it!  This recipe makes a ton, so there is plenty of gumbo yumminess for your freezer.

Snowy Day Seafood Gumbo (adapted from here)


2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 bunch celery, diced
½ head garlic, minced
2 bay leafs
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper, thyme, and oregano
½ tsp cayenne and white pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup flour
4-5 cups okra
2 packages andouille sausage (I used chicken and turkey andouille- don't tell Hubs)
1 pound crab meat
1 pound shrimp (about 34 to 40)
16 ounces crawfish
1 cup diced can tomatoes (14.5 oz can, drained)
6 cups chicken stock


  • Cut vegetables and set aside.
  • Mix seasonings and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan (a large dutch oven is perfect) until it begins to smoke. Slowly add flour, whisking constantly on medium heat. Continue to stir until the roux becomes dark, almost chocolate brown (this takes about thirty minutes of constant whisking. Be patient.  If you burn it you have to start all over!  So put on some tunes, and stir.  Patiently.
  • Stir in half of the vegetables, switch to a wooden spoon if necessary, cook for 1 minute then add the rest of the vegetables.
  • Cook 2-3 minutes and add seasonings and garlic.
  • Cook 2-3 minutes more then add stock in batches.
  • Meanwhile, slice your sausage and sauté it in a splash of olive oil until it is slightly browned.
  • Bring to a boil and add okra, tomatoes, and browned sausage.
  • Bring back to a boil then turn heat down and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off any fat that comes to the top.
  • Add all the seafood, bring back to a simmer and serve over rice with crusty French bread. Serve with Tabasco to taste.

Oh my word, y'all this is tasty.  If you don't like seafood, well. . .you are just missing out, because the shellfish is pretty much integral to this gumbo.  However, there are plenty of non-seafood gumbos out there, so check them out.  If you are half-vegetarian however, you could leave out the sausage- just be sure to add extra spice while cooking with the addition of hot sauce or more pepper.

I doubled the okra and left out the file powder for this recipe.  Both act as thickening agents for the gumbo, so you do not need both.  And after all, we're trying to get those veggies in, right?  I'm dying for another bowl right now.  There is a possibility that I might turn into a crawfish with the amount that I have consumed lately.

So have y'all gone stir crazy in the snow?

Jan 14, 2011

Resolutions and Losing Weight

I didn't make any resolutions this year. Sure, I want to be conscientious about being more organized and be better about watching my moolah and saving, but those have been constant personality change projects I have been working on since becoming an adult.

Tron's resolutions were "to accessorize more, and to buy clothes of higher quality fabrics."  These are the kind of resolutions I can get behind!

The dawning of January brings then end of the holidays, the promise of spring, and resolutions to lose the weight.  Emily and I were talking the other day about her white dress-wedding diet.  What I did before my wedding (and still do today) is a really simple way to lose weight without dieting.  Em said I should put it on the blog, and Shelley concurred.  I'm sure I will regret telling y'all my secret instead of making moolah with a best selling diet book, but here it is . . .

Eat 7-9 servings of fruit and veggies a day.

Easy peasy right?  Do it (and a little walking or my personal favorite- JAZZERCISE), and you will lose weight.  Only 14% of Americans eat five servings of fruit and vegetable a day.  That's kind of gross really.

You have to consciously pack all those vegetables in, so you don't have stomach room to eat a large amount of crap.  I eat whatever I want, exercise 4-5 times a week, and stay about the size I want to be.  Don't get me wrong, I'd love to lose five pounds, but then I would have to diet.  Blergh.
Example- pizza, and a ton of sauteed spinach and roasted broccolli.

Y'all know I love to eat and cook (and eat some more), so this really helps me keep everything in check.  For example- yesterday I had

3 eggs and 2 clementines for breakfast (2)
Big bowl of homemade gumbo for lunch and a couple cookies (2)
Wasa crackers with marinara and cheese for snack (1)
Smoked salmon pizzetta with arugula and tomato soup (3)
hmm, another cookie and a couple of Hubs' fries.

Every meal or snack, I have to get in some vegetable or fruit. And apparently some cookies (I'm nipping the cookie thing in the bud, as I do have all these weddings coming up).  If my pants are getting snug, or I want to slim a little, I just tighten up on my junk- like ht cookies and the fries.

Another positive aspect is that making sure I get seven to nine servings of vegetables and fruit means that I am eating more "whole".  There aren't a lot of processed vegetables.  You can't get asparagus in a cardboard box on the cookie/cracker aisle. 

I always fought against my enormous appetite and tried to starve it into submission, leading to late night cookie and brownie raids.  I started getting my act together in law school when I started lifting weights- more muscle- I could eat more!  With the 7-9 "lifestyle" (hee), I eat tons, yet have gone down a few sizes!  My skin has cleared up a lot too. 

I'm not counting calories, points, carbs, or anything that makes me nuts and obsessive.  I just keep a little tally in my head- "Okay, had chick-fil-a for lunch, so I need a veggie plate for dinner to get up to my 7-9".

Also, I snack on veggie soups a lot.  Next week is soup week on the blog, so get ready!

Anyway, that's my effortless weight loss tip.  If you are wanting to drop a few or "get healthier", give it a shot!  Let me know how it goes- I love vegetables, but I'm sure it's harder if you don't.

What's your way of fitting in your clothes?  I do have a number of bridesmaid dresses in my future, so I am all yours!

Jan 12, 2011

New Project- (dreams of grandeur and laundry)

So Hubs and I have decided to really redo our laundry-mudroom area.  Earlier we had discussed knocking out the laundry closet, adding some built-ins and leaving the basic room intact.  Well, in what seems to be the normal route of thing, we are now planning on knocking out walls, reorienting the powder room, adding a utility sink, and new floors.

So I present my pictures to Hubs and our contractor. (most are from Southern Living or  My Home Ideas).  They spluttered and laughed- apparently my mudroom ideas will result in the laundry room being the nicest area in the house. 

Well, why not?  Men!

These are what I'm really aiming for- I love the green, and think it could really make stock cabinets look interesting.  The piece on the right is where I would build in my desk organization area (a place to put my mail- what more could a girl ask for??)

Well, maybe a laundry organization island.
I think I would actually like to do laundry if I had this thing. I could iron on top!

Oh, who I am I kidding?  With my propensity for clutter, especially clutter of a clothes related nature, I wouldn't see the top of this thing much.

I still want one though.

And a utility sink.  So I can cut flowers from my (currently dead) garden.

The biggest proponent of this new mudroom?  Buddy Bear, of course!  He thinks that his room should most definitely be the nicest in our house!  After all, he is the dictator in training (I joke with Hubs that when we procreate and have a bunch of blonde kiddos running around, we will stage a blonde coup d'etat, overthrow Hubs as our leader, and Buddy will become our benevolent blonde dictator.  Obviously, Hubs thinks I am insane).

So we are waiting on the estimates, which I am sure will likely nip this in the bud.  Until then I will consult with Buddy and add more things to our mudroom wish list- Viva la Revolution!

Jan 5, 2011

Before and After- Party Version

So in the interest of honesty I am going to show y'all what my house looked like an hour or two before my guests arrived. If you attended the NYE shindig, avert your eyes! My house is always perfect, I promise!


 My fridge is full of sliced potatoes sitting in water to prevent browning. And pork. And cheese.  A pretty tasty fridge, although I had nothing to eat for lunch.

I want to thank you readers for all of your wonderful charger suggestions.  I ended up buying 2 dozen from J.C. Penney- $9.99 for a set 12.  Get thee to Penney's and buy you some on sale!  Cheaper than Wal-Mart with the added bonus of not having to go to Wal-Mart.

 The chargers looked lovely with my julep cups, cheap metallic glass candle holders from Cost Plus-World Market, burlap runners, and gold ornaments.
The living room was filled with two square card tables, each sitting four, and two long tables seating six.  I rented the chairs (the same ones I rented for the park party this summer), and ended up renting the silverware.  That was a stroke of genius!  Instead of counting the silver for 30 people, and scrabbling together a few sets, fretting whether a piece of my good silver got thrown away, I simply had to rinse everything in prep for the party rentals place dishwasher.  And it was about $25!

Mama brought me over some nandina and holly from her yard, which we stuck in my julep cups for the dining room table and the tables in the living room.

We sat down to eat around 10 PM (so continental and glamorous, no?).  My potatoes were a bit al dente, but I took a big gulp of wine and forgot about it. Well, not completely, as I just got irritated with myself thinking about it.  Bygones.

I'll be back with more pictures, and recipe reviews. Here's a spoiler- melted cheese is always a hit. . .

Saving Faith

I don't normally do this, but Shelley and I were laughing about how if I got all my reader to donate 75 cents, y'all could buy me that pink polka dot Milly dress I covet, when I received this e-mail-

As I write this email, she is being looked over by neuro specialists at UT Vet Hospital. We are hoping they can save her but it will cost at least $2500 or more. We need your help. Even if it's $2.00, $10 or even $100, any amount will do
Adopt a Golden is the rescue organization from which we adopted Buddy.  If you have a spare dollar, please help save this little girl.  You can visit Adopt A Golden's website for more info-
Okay, I'll be back tomorrow with recipes and such!

Starting 2011 in Shambles

 I have plenty to report on with the party- it was a hit (even though my potatoes were underdone).  However, in the resulting mess, my house looks like above.  It has slowly been put to rights, although my living room furniture is still scattered about the house.

Image from A Charmed Wife.

Resolution- be more of a cleaner, and don't procrastinate.  Oh, and I gave up Chick-fil-a yesterday.  Until my brother's wedding, (except on road trips).

I firmly believe that now I will magically lose five pounds before appearing in Kingsley's wedding.