Friday, December 31, 2010

my new favorite winter snack

Photo taken with the iPhone.

Roasted Grapefruit, per previous entry about new year's breakfast. See recipe and rant here.

new year's eve breakfast

Since Sharon has to leave early tomorrow (New Year's day) morning, we decided celebrate the new year with a New Year's Eve breakfast while we are still together. We ate, had a reading, sang a song, and shared prayer requests and visions for the new year.

The Menu

*Chicken quiche with sour cream,green peppers, and swiss and cheddar cheese
*Buttermilk blueberry pancakes (recipe from smitten kitchen)
*Fruit plate - kumquats, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, watermelon
*Roasted Grapefruit with mint leaves
*Coffee and Orange Juice

My favorite thing by far was the roasted grapefruit. It's a misnomer because the grapefruit isn't really roasted, just slightly glazed on top with a sugar that hardens. It's how the grapefruit is served at Pulino's Bar & Pizzeria in Manhattan (Soho), and I was excited to try it. When the sugar melts in the pan, you place the grapefruit face down in the sugar mix and coat the top, and then sprinkle with finely chopped mint leaves. We couldn't find the muscovado sugar that it calls for and used brown sugar instead, which worked fine.

The first attempt (which is what is pictured here below) was not as successful because the sugar melted and hardened before we got it on the grapefruit, but we got the idea and it was delicious. The second attempt was much more successful (once the sugar melts, you gotta act quick!), and is pictured here. The mint leaves with the grapefruit is GENIUS. The flavors of the mint, citrus and caramelized sugar is oh-so-perfect. I've included the recipe for it below.

Roasted Grapefruit

Adapted from Nate Appleman, Pulino’s Bar & Pizzeria, Manhattan

Time: 15 minutes

1 grapefruit

1/3 cup muscovado sugar

2 teaspoons finely chopped mint.

1. Cut the grapefruit in half and thoroughly loosen all sections with a knife. Dry the cut surface with a paper towel.

2. Put the sugar in a 10-inch heavy skillet and place over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar melts and darkens slightly, about 2 minutes; do not let it burn. Spread it across the pan (it will not coat evenly) and immediately add the grapefruit halves, cut sides down.

3. Move the grapefruit in the pan to coat the surface. Using tongs or two spoons, transfer to serving dishes, cut sides up. Sprinkle with mint and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

our DIT (Do-it-together) wedding

Looking back, there are several reasons why 2010 was a great year, but one of the coolest things that happened was that I got to marry my best friend! Now we live together, share the last name, and I cook more.

I figured out how to make the pictures appear bigger on this blog so the plan is that I will share photos and also a documentation of how the wedding came together. When I remember 2010 I want to remember the fun we had planning and having our wedding.

Date: August 28, 2010; 6PM
Place: Duck, NC
Bride's outfit: Dress handmade by friend's mom and shoes from
Groom's outfit: Jos. A. Bank and Cole Haan
Flowers: Harris Teeter and flower warehouse ($120 TOTAL)
Hair & Make-up: I did my makeup, and my sister did my hair
Food: Culinary Magick

It was important for us to have a wedding that was meaningful, comfortable, and true to who we were as a couple. If this was going to symbolize and encourage us into our life of marriage, we wanted it stock it full of real and good moments.

We decided on the location early on – Outer Banks, NC – and once we finally decided on the venue (thanks to my sister-in-law, Amy!), I started to get excited about the details. I knew I had wanted to have it outside, near a tree, in an enclosed space, in close vicinity to the beach, and the event house was perfect. True, I had a bar exam to worry about, and few other things got in the way of the planning, but we somehow pulled it all together in the end. The power of hope, creativity and help, combined!

Venue: The event house, called Saltaire House, had us jaw-dropping at every room when we first saw it. Ron, the owner, had put together the house with a fantastic attention to detail that made it a gorgeous wedding event house and bed and breakfast. The house had a living room, dining room, kitchen (where the food was prepared), a pub room (where the drinks were served), a downstairs bathroom, a foyer (where the welcome/gift table was set up), a wrap-around porch, a pool, a gazebo, grassy backyard (for both our ceremony and reception), five upstairs bedrooms (including a bridal suite), one bedroom downstairs with bunk beds, and a game room in the basement. Needless to say, we didn’t need too much convincing. I wish I had taken more pictures of the house itself. You can find out more about the Saltaire House here.

Dress: After hours of searching, deciding, de-deciding, trying on, the perfect solution came in the form of my friend’s mother. She had made her own wedding dress and was willing to make mine. I had an idea for a dress in my head but never imagined that I could actually have one custom made. The fabric I chose was ivory organza and dupioni, the design altered from a dress pattern of a casual 1940s dress, the flower from Tigerlily (thanks to my sister), and the ribbon (for the belt) from Michael's. I loved my dress (thank you Mrs. Cobb!) and I ordered pink peep-toed shoes from Groom’s outfit: White dress shirt, tan and red suspenders, and blue bow tie all from Jos. A. Bank, thanks to their helpful sales folk. Khaki pants from Banana Republic, and splendid leather shoes from Cole Haan.

photo by maya lee

The ceremony: We asked my old youth group pastor and friend, Eric, to officiate, and didn’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen. My sisters, Ken’s sister, and Saena helped as the wedding coordinators, Soonie, Jaina, Care, Em and Hilz all pitched in on the weekend of, Ken had some of his buds- Mike, Eugene, Shih-wei, and David- come down early to help prepare, welcome, and usher, and we each walked down the aisle with our parents. Ken walked down his mom and waited at the front while my parents walked me down the aisle. Our very talented friends Nic and Megan sang and played music before and during our ceremony. I'm so glad we got to walk down to “Somebody Loved” by the Weepies! They also played “O My God” by the Mars Hill band for contemplation, and “See What the Lord has Done” for the celebratory end-of-ceremony song. We selected three readings to be read by our friends: an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity (Richard), an excerpt from a love letter by Rainer Maria Rilke (Tucker), and a poem from the movie, ‘Before Sunrise’ (Hilary). Ken and I wrote and said our own vows, and when we walked back up the aisle together our guests celebrated by blowing kazoos and bubbles!
Food: The event house had a sort of in-house caterer, and they made it easy for us. We picked a couple of appetizers (seared scallops and eggrolls), a couple of entrees (salmon and rib-eye), and they came to the house the day of to make the food, set it up, and serve the drinks. Ken’s mom prepared the salad and fruit, Ken’s dad brought the spicy tuna concoction, and Eric brought the rolls and alcohol. We brought additional drinks and alcohol, with the help of more friends (thanks Chris), and rented a snow cone machine and cotton candy machine for dessert. For favors, we set up a candy buffet table. I wanted some refreshment to be available before the ceremony, so DJ and Anne helped concoct a delicious spiked lemonade and ice tea mixture (along with a superb sign) that ran out too fast.
Flowers: 96 white roses from a wholesale flower shop for the centerpieces, and a dozen antique pink roses from Harris Teeter for my bouquet. (Cost: $120!)
Music: We put together a song-list for the cocktail hour and dinner time, and Eugene lassoed up some music for the dancing (using an internet connection that was wholly unreliable and fending off male mosquitoes all the while). Charles excellently put together a compilation of the two dance-numbers that was supposed to be our first dance, that we didn’t get to do because we ran out of practice time, and Charles also brought down the speakers that was used for the whole event. Diana and James provided us with extra mics and stands and Ron had extension cords for us to use.
Photography: We have many talented friends and I had had my eye on a couple of them to do our photos for the wedding. Thankfully, Sang and Norman obliged, were willing, and did such a fantastic job capturing all the essential moments. They are, in my opinion, the best. We are also very lucky for all our other friends who took many and shared their pictures with us.
Videography: I had wanted some video footage of the event, but had abandoned the idea because it was going to be too expensive to get a videographer. Fortunately, Eunjee had a DSLR that could capture video and was willing to take some footage for us, which she did beautifully and then also edited into a 30 minute segment with music and bokeh and everything.

Centerpieces: Ron provided us with the tables and white linens. I wanted to create centerpieces on top of these that had a nostalgic feel with eyefuls of beautiful things, so I gathered together a combination of pictures, vases, knick knacks, real flowers, paper flowers, and decorative fabric.
1) We picked different fabric patterns and Ken’s mom and grandma cut and hemmed all of them into 16X20 mats for the center of the table. 2) I went thrifiting all summer and collected various bottles, vases, jars, candle sticks and whatever else I loved and matched the theme I was going for. Each of the tables turned out different and unique. 3) For the table numbers I printed out twenty various 4x6 photographs that reflected moments from our past, painted numbers on the picture with black oil paint, and got 20 picture frames from the dollar store to frame the pictures to be set on each table.
4) I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get real flowers, so I came up with a back-up plan. For paper flowers, they looked so realistic! And luckily, friends came over and helped me make jarfuls of them. Since everything else on the table would be colorful, I went for classic and simple flowers. Most of the paper flowers were ivory, and the real roses we eventually ended up getting were ivory. 5) My friend Martha is a collector of pretty blue bottles and offered to let me borrow some to add to the table. My mom and I made another kind of paper flower with paper from a book (a volleyball how-to book from a used book store that I found for $1) and put one flower in each blue bottle.
6) The caterers provided the dishes, glasses and silverware, and I found some paper napkins with colorful prints from a paperie in Richmond, VA. 7) The kids table is where I would have wanted to sit, because they got extra on their table: coloring books, crayons, lollipops and animal-shaped bracelets. Oh, to be a kid again. (The kids colored us pages out of their books and we have them hanging on our fridge.)

photo by maya lee
Decorations: I had an idea of a sort of crafty-fancy-vintage theme, and it would incorporate a lot of antique pink, dusty turquoise and ivory, but welcomed other colors, too.
photo by maya lee
1) I found a how-to for fabric poms that were easy to make and came out looking pretty regal. Friends helped me make pink, ivory and grey poms, and they were used as hanging aisle-runners for the seats during the ceremony. 2) I had some craft paper left over from a crafty bridal shower where girlfriends came over to help me make things for the wedding, and the patterns made me want to use them for something awesome. I figured out how to make different sized paper wheels that went above the entrance of the gazebo to create a kind of archway.
3) Instead of a slide show, I printed some baby pictures of Ken and me to frame for the welcome table and also string up inside the house. 4) We weren’t sure if there was going to be enough light once it got dark, so we had tiki torches set up around the periphery of the reception area and then also had a string of lights set up on one side, behind our table – thanks to the hard work of Ken’s henchmen. I believe home depot, cement, and wooden poles were involved. Recycled candles were also brought out for each of the tables when the sun left.
5) I had to come up with a quick table seating chart last minute, and decided on writing out the names with a sharpie on a thin sheet of wood that was set up on an easel. 6) The welcome table was a compilation of various ideas. We nixed the idea of programs early on, and handed out animal-shaped bottles of bubbles and kazoos (for the end of the ceremony) instead. Instead of a guest sign-in book, we asked them to sign squares of fabric that will hopefully be turned into a quilt someday. We used an old suitcase to hold the fabric squares and a borrowed birdcage to hold the cards.
Reflection: When the ceremony was about to begin, I got kind of nervous, but once it was underway and I had Ken’s hand to hold, and I got a quick look at everyone sitting behind us, I felt peaceful. Peaceful and joyful and grateful. Exactly as I’d hope I’d feel during my wedding. The ceremony was meaningful because it was true and it was about us, and the reception was wonderful because it was about all our other relationships showing their support for us. During the reception I was overwhelmed and tearful at seeing everyone all together, loving us, wanting to celebrate with us.
I know I may have said thank you individually to some but wanted to say it again collectively: the guys that came to celebrate with Ken for his bachelor parties, the girls that came over to help me make things and gave me pretty panties, ALL the offers to help with the preparation, the folks that came out and hung out with us on Friday the day before, both our families for unexpected financial help, Amy for finding the place and for being so supportive in every way, my parents for making the trip across the globe and helping me with the unforeseen details, Sharon and Eunice for being extensions of myself. And for everyone who came down all the way to the house on a remote strip of beach down in North Carolina – it meant so much to us that you were there.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ladies at Can Can Brasserie

Life feels different and special these days because all the ladies in my family are in one city for the week: mom, sharon, eunice, moi. There is an excessive amount of talking over good food, and things are as they should be. This morning we spent our time at Can Can, a favorite place to go hang out for coffee and morning pastries.
Can Can is glorious for both its food and ambiance. It is exactly as a brasserie should be.
See fantastic menu here.

For today, two thumbs up to their french press coffee, goat cheese & fig croissant, and apricot scone!

Speaking of glorious foods: go here to see pictures and hear sound clips of the restaurant critic for The New York Times, Sam Sifton, describe the 15 best things he ate around town (NYC) in the past year. The pictures of the food along with the narrative make for a compelling and mouth-watering documentary of food appreciation.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

recycled art: dictionary paper

Enamored with these prints on recycled dictionary paper. So enamored that I got myself four of 'em as a late xmas present to me. You can find them here and right now if you buy three, you get one free! I had a hard time choosing just four.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

speaking of xmas, one last thing.

Looking through some of last year's pictures, I ran across these.
This was my Christmas last year, Curacao 2009.
I post these pictures as a contrast to the snowy picture in the previous post. Also, because I like remembering the warmth and my time with these lovely ladies.

So much has happened since then!

the day after xmas

It started snowing yesterday, and even though I don't like snow, it was pretty. Also, I can't help getting a teensy bit excited for snow because Rusty loves it so. Here he is on the balcony taking a break from his snow dance/prance.

This Christmas season, more than anything else, I am truly grateful for my family - original family, new family, new husband. We had both sides come together, there was good food, we had a tree, there was snow, and there was presents. For some reason I just couldn't get into the holly-jolly, red-and-green razzle dazzle, jingle bells kind of spirit this year, but who cares? I am so grateful and I am at peace, and that's really all that matters.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

website of the week: the sartorialist

To take a quick break from christmas-related posts, I thought I'd share about one of my favorite blogs, the Sartorialist. It is a blog by Scott Schuman, fashion photographer, who takes photos of fashion on the streets of big cities around the world. The photos are interesting, eye-opening, inspirational, and timely. Sometimes there is a story. For me, this blog is mostly about abstract inspiration and attitude. Like Schuman says, its not about trying to imitate what you see, its about thinking of contrast and color and shape and texture, and maybe being inspired in a total different direction.

Being inspired influences the way you feel about yourself, as well as your self-expression.

This is what Schuman says about what he is trying to do:

"I thought I could shoot people on the street the way designers looked at people, and get and give inspiration to lots of people in the process. My only strategy when I began The Sartorialist was to try and shoot style in a way that I knew most designers hunted for inspiration. Rarely do they look at the whole outfit as a yes or no but they try and look for the abstract concepts of color, proportion, pattern mixing or mixed genres. I’m always really happy when I meet a designer and hear that they use some of my photos for their inspiration boards. At the same time I’m also really touched when I get emails from everyday people who say they have been inspired to see themselves and others in a new and usually more accepting way. "

If you scroll back far enough you can see posts that where he shares old vintage photos that readers have sent in of their fashionable grandparents and great-grandparents. LOVE.

Pictures from the Sartorialist.