Will you accept this rosé?

2014-07-30 10.42.03

Friends! Countrywomen! Put-upon spouses and partners who have had their TVs hijacked every Monday for many weeks! That time is upon us – Bachelorette Finale night. Or “finally” night*, for those of you who are sick of Bachelorette-related crap important news and happenings infiltrating your homes for more hours in a week than you’d care to say. We had to delay our viewing party by a day and the suspense almost killed me. Apparently the rest of the world got the memo that it was going to be Josh a loooong time ago, but some of us are just not that on top of reality news…ahem…

I would LOVE to pretend that I am above The Bachelor franchise. That I don’t care about it, that I don’t watch it, that I feel dumber by participating. But only one of those is true – that I feel a little dumber every time I turn it on. And then Andi puts on another scarf and tells somebody to staaaaaaappppp it and I settle in, uncaring that there are important! world! facts! about Syria or Russia or Prince George or the conflict in Gaza that are being pushed aside in my brain to make room for the Josh v. Nick debate. It’s getting very Flowers for Algernon** up in here.

The only thing I love more than Bach drama is having people over, and when the two collide. WELL. You’d better hope you’re here for the right reasons, is all I’m saying. Or the wrong reasons. I don’t really care. GET IN MAH HOUSE. Because that’s where the party at, yo. Yes, my dear friend Eliza and I threw a Bachelorette-themed evening, much to the confusion and mockery of Le Fiance. Deets are below!

The Mood:

Small bouquets of roses were placed around the house, along with many a flickering candle. Flickering candles are the essence of ro-mahance, don’t you know.

The Food:

Appetizers: The Suspense is Kale-ing Me! (kale chips) + (Will you accept this) rosé

Main: Tuscan Stuffed Chicken (though legs, thighs or butts would also do) served on a bed of brown rice

Dessert: Baked Bourbon Vanilla Peaches over Ice-Cream, as a nod to the Andi’s Atlanta roots

 

Did you watch? Did you have a viewing party? Are you over The Bachelor/ette or still totally into it?

 2014-07-29 18.48.37

 

*The first of a few bad puns. I make no apologies.

**Who is Algernon and what do the Algerians have to do with The Bachelorette, you ask? Don’t ask me. I’m already too much dumber to answer (see above).

 

Tuscan Stuffed Chicken

2014-07-29 16.09.37

First disclaimer: this dish perhaps cannot be called “Tuscan” in a strict sense of the word. What is Tuscan cooking specifically, as opposed to our sanitized American version of Italian food? I’m not totally sure. Frances Maye’s fabulous Under the Tuscan Sun would have me believe…not this.

This dinner originated from one of those, “I have a lot of random in the fridge – what can I do?” kind of moments that make cooking so great. And what I found was that the earthy flavors of the mushroom, combined with the bloomy blue cheese (or bleu cheese, if you’re into pretentious spelling) and the garlicky sauce all combine to make a hearty dish that recalls long days hiking the hills, sun warmed cobblestone streets, and un bicchiere di vino at the end of the day.

What do true Tuscan people eat? I have no idea. What I ate in Tuscany (pizza/pasta/wine/repeat) is not sustainable for a nice long life, unlike this dish I’m about to share. But there is something about this dish – it’s rusticity, it’s simplicity – that makes me think (or hope?) that calling it Tuscan isn’t too far off the mark.

TUSCAN STUFFED CHICKEN (serves four)

Ingredients:

. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

. 2 tablespoons each feta cheese and blue cheese

. 1 large handful of fresh spinach, chopped or chiffonaded

. 1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms

. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

. 1/2 cup red wine

. 1 jar of prepared marinara sauce OR equivalent amount of homemade sauce

. EVOO, salt and pepper

. Optional add-ins: dried shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, glug of balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes

2014-07-29 15.56.58

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 425, then coat the bottom of a glass pan or baking dish with EVOO and a little bit of marinara sauce. Just cover the bottom so the chicken won’t stick.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the feta, blue cheese, mushrooms, spinach, Italian seasoning and any of the add-in ingredients you’d like. Cover everything with 1/2 cup of marinara sauce and a small glug of EVOO. Mix well until it’s all combined.

3. Prep the chicken by trimming any fat and making two slits down the middle. I cut mine all the way through so the stuffing mix can really cook in.

Prepped chicken breasts

4. Lay the chicken in a pan and stuff away!

2014-07-29 16.07.54

5. Layer extra stuffing mixture on top. The cheese will melt in and the spinach will wilt nicely, so don’t be dainty about it – use it all, as the top photo shows.

6. Cover the pan with more sauce (you can be more or less saucy based on personal preference) and then add some red wine over the top and around the sides. The wine gives it a subtle depth not unlike chicken marsala, though less heavy handed.

7. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes covered, then the final 10 uncovered. If the liquid in the bottom is bubbling and the chickens are simmering slightly, you’ll know you’re done.

8. Serve over a bed of quinoa, brown rice, pasta, or just eat!

2014-07-29 20.11.10

Weekly Menu: July 28

Royal Blue on Regent St

{Royal Blue on Regent Street – From last week’s adventure to London!}

With summer, pool days, the wedding and a trip to Hawaii all coming up, Le Fiance and I have started to have more serious conversations about health and fitness. Not just our usual, which is like, “We totally shouldn’t eat these cookies, NOM NOM NOM.” And then we maybe run around the block once. No! We are getting serious over here.  WE WILL NOT EAT YOUR COOKIES NOSIREE!

I even resisted putting this on the menu for this week, which I feel both brave and sad about, for obvious reasons. I mean seriously: read this recipe, then tell yourself no, and then tell me you don’t feel a little sad about it.

Because of all this health and fitness business, this week shall henceforth be known as the week of greens and protein. We actually eat like this most of the time anyway, for the record. We don’t buy processed foods or things that can only be cooked in the microwave. We don’t even have a microwave, like the rogue hippies you’d expect us to be. BUT! Ohhh but. And it’s a big but (ha!) Our love for ice-cream and homemade baked goods and wine knows no bounds. Especially me (wine) and especially when I’m traveling. So this week is about getting some bounds. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Monday – Seared filet mignon + homemade chimichurri and sweet potato wedges
Tuesday – Stuffed Tuscan Chicken (recipe coming up next week!)
Wednesday – Baked fish + brussels, carrots, tomatoes
Thursday – One pot faro with tomatoes +  jalapeño sausages
What are you eating this week?

Pool Side!

Pool Side!

We are fortunate enough to be going on a little wine country weekend in a few days. It’s the perfect chance to swim, read by the pool, eat a gourmet dinner and have a glorious sleep in without those oh-so-special city sounds waking us up in the middle of the night.

We have a neighbor with a blender that sounds very much like Jason and his chainsaw and a trash man who relishes nothing more than waking us all up at 5 a.m. because he’s awake too. Or so I imagine. Maybe the trash man really is just enjoying the hell out of his morning and banging cans brings him great joy? We’ll never know because I will never ask him. Mostly because that conversation would go like this:

Me: grumblegrumbleGRUMBLE! 5AM! Grumblegrumble

Him: BANGBANGBANGBANG !!!

Me: OHFORGETITGRUMBLEgrumble

My two most important beach bag categories are sun protection and reading material. Pale nerds, unite! As long as I have SPF 45 (aka, liquid snowsuit), lip balm with sunscreen, a hat, and about seven books loaded on my nook, I’m all good. Cute sandals, trashy magazines, and face wipes that keep me looking like a dainty lady are all bonus. Even the swimming suit is a bonus, really. I’m very content to lay about reading in whatever outfit, this is what a bad style blogger I am.

In real life, I’m going to load up my trusty monogrammed L.L. Bean bag with an assortment of things. But in blog life, I thought it would be fun to design a beautiful dream beach bag.

What do you put in your beach bag? 

The Bachelorette Finale!

Andi

GUYS! The night has arrived! Bachelorette Finale night! Who is she going to pick? For the first time ever, I think it’s going to be a surprise, which makes it way more fun to watch.

I’m Team Nick all the way. Not because I like him though – I just think that’s who she’s going to pick, however ill-advised it may be. Josh is a derp and Nick’s an even derper derp and it’s probably best if we all just move our attentions forward and start promoting #MarquelforBachelor and Chris for handsome neighbor/farmer eye candy next door. Window shopping is totally allowed when the goods on display have a megawatt smile and understand about threshing wheat from chaff and working the land and oh my Lord the Steinbeck fantasies are just too much to handle.

Josh or Nick – who do you think?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, wherein we shall have all the deets about our themed viewing party here in SF. Rosé puns need not apply because I used ‘em all up already.

Wardrobe Update + The Lean Closet Movement

Classic fashion, Jackie style{Jackie Kennedy, the ultimate curator’s inspiration! From oxfords to cigarette pants to classic dresses. Cat not included?}

One of my biggest New Year’s resolutions this year was around shopping. My goal was to curate instead of collect, something we discussed here. I also vowed to floss more, but nobody needs that update, I’m sure.

Despite the lack of outfit posts and personal photos on my blog, I love to shop. The problem is that my love of shopping directly counteracts my love of saving money. Yep, you read that correctly: saving money. My spirit animal is an old Lutheran lady who’s been wearing the same lumpy cardigan since 1976. She also eats a lot of donuts and occasionally bites.

It often feels like bloggers – and random ladies on the streets of San Francisco – LOVE spending money and shop constantly. I mean, I love the rush of it, the thrill of the chase, the conquest when you find that elusive item. I loooovve that feeling. It’s like modern day lady hunting and no cheetahs are harmed in the process, which is awesome. But then I get home, cram that all-hallowed thing into my already full city closet, make apologetic eyes at the person who has the misfortune of sharing said tiny closet with me, then regret and buyer’s remorse set in.

Where so many of us lack the funds to be purchasing big-ticket designer items, we make up for it by spending a lot over time at lower-end chain stores. Those lower-end items end up fraying, losing their shape, breaking, or otherwise just looking bad after a wear or two, and we’re right back where we started: with a closetful of stuff and nothing to wear, then feeling like we need to rush out and buy something – anything! – to look a little better. My goal for this year was to change this mentality by saying no to this cycle.

Chanel quilted bags

I’ve been somewhat successful with these new goals. I’ve added a pair of Michael Kors cheetah flats to the repertoire, an Arcadia handbag that looks similar to this in shape, the new jeans mentioned here, and a white linen sheath dress that will be perfect for summer vacations for decades. And the biggest purchase of all – my wedding dress – was also purchased with this new ethos in mind. I can’t say anything about it yet, but the goal was to find something that looked timeless; as at home in 1960 as well as today and I feel really good about what I’ll be wearing.

As I’ve been on my mission to curate, so has Cuyana, a beautiful shop that creates quality handmade goods built to last. Their Lean Closet Movement series continues to inspire me to take a careful look at what I’ve brought home these last few months and continue on my mission to shop slow, ask the right questions, and really take care of my purchases. The idea of looking and feeling good every day is worth every penny.

 

More resources to help you shop quality:

Cuyana (for those in SF, the shop is in Union Square)

Everlane

Sunhee Moon (for those in SF, the shop is on Fillmore)

 

Purchase list for the next six months or so:

A simple, beautiful tote that can withstand rigorous globe trotting

A classic trench that will last for decades and can handle San Francisco’s notoriously rainy winters

A pair of these wedges. I have them in black and they are the only shoe I can stand in for a full 12 hour day of coaching

Simple, comfortable plain leather ballet flats

A camel colored pashmina

Is this something you subscribe to? How do you shop? I’m so curious – I’d really love to know what you all do!

 PS – this is not a sponsored post! I just really like Cuyana and what they’re all about!

Jeans for Tiny People: The Secret

Lolita

Why not call it like it is? This post is all about jeans for those of us not quite proportioned like adults. And while I’m not tiny in the sense that some people are – I still have curves and a bust – I am hopelessly short and finding jeans that fit off the rack is like an exercise in withstanding medieval torture. I’m not even being dramatic – jeans shopping makes me want to both run 12 miles and eat my feelings in frozen yogurt simultaneously. Up until two weeks ago, I had ONE PAIR OF JEANS that fit and that I wore regularly. The rest were either outdated and gathering dust or had been given away to Goodwill. Things were getting dire.

When my sister-in-law suggested hitting up a certain ye old high school shopping spot for jeans, I was skeptical. I mean, does anyone still shop at – wait for it – The Buckle? Have we not progressed past this place? Apparently, we have not. And as she pointed out, they basically only sell jeans. If there’s anywhere that’s going to have a multitude of options, it’s them. And so, with bowed head and tears in my eyes, I once again pilgrammaged to The Buckle, feeling every bit the 14 year old girl I was the last time I shopped there.

A lovely casual sales guy gave me the eye as soon as I walked in. “‘Sup,” he said, looking me up and down. Normally I take umbrage at being sized up (taking umbrage is one of my favorite activities) but since I needed this man to size me up and dress me, it seemed only appropriate.

“Hey. I’m 5′ 2″ with extra shorty legs, curvy, and really hate jeans shopping. Can you help?”

This man gave me two more seconds of stare, and then pulled a pair of jeans right off the rack. “Try these,” he said. I took them and prepared for the litany of issues that inevitably crop up the minute I wiggle my tiny legs into pants. Only…that didn’t happen. These jeans fit like a glove. They made my butt look good, my legs look normal length, and didn’t make me want to run to the nearest fro-yo establishment.

“Sir! How – HOW – did you do this? These are the first off the rack jeans that fit that I’ve EVER tried on!”

He chuckled, complimented me on my ass (again – going with it) and then said, “Um, that’s because they’re capri pants!”

Indeed, reader. If you look at the inside of my new jeans (two new pairs, thank you very much) it says right on the tag: Lolita Capri.

And you know what? I don’t even care. Because this is the first time ever I have not had to have my jeans tailored, and if that means feeling a little special every time I put these jeans on, then I’m not going to take umbrage – I’m just gonna go with it.