Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A shower full of scarfs

Have you ever heard of a scarf shower?

I only learned about this special event yesterday morning when I received an invitation to attend one next week. Of course, not having a clue what a scarf party/shower entailed beside the snap bits of information the invitation provide, I turned to my trusty friend Google for more info. Google actually let me down since it was harder to find information about this topic than I thought. After a few failed attempts, I located some information via discussion board which installed feelings of fear and uncertainty for the event.
A scarf party or hat party that is hosted for a special friend who has been diagnosed with cancer. One of my sorority sisters was recently diagnosed with lymphoma and will be starting her first of many chemo therapy treatments tomorrow.  As she embarks in this daunting journey, our alumnae chapter has gotten together to send her letters of support and affection and decorative scarfs. She is an incredibly beautiful and strong woman and I know she will be able to kick lymphoma’s butt.
I found some great tips when buying a scarf for a scarf party:
·  Cotton is best and the most comfy

·  Try to stay away from anything with scratchy sparkles/decorations

·  Silk scarves are pretty, but not practical (hard to tie)

·  Always keep in mind the person’s interests and quirks

·  Can't find a scarf? Send a fun hat or anything to show your support

So now I am on the hunt for the perfect scarf for a great friend. Pinterest addiction thank you for your support in the scarf hunt!

a great way to score decorative scarfs

This J. Crew scarf is lovely

girly yet suitable for everyday use

I love how even a scarf can be a room statement piece

an easy craft to store away your scarfs in the closet 

how cute is this scarf tying style

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane days

When I was younger, I always wished I lived in a place where kids could have snow days. The idea of having the sporadic day off to play in the snow or stay inside with chocolate and marshmallows felt like a dream. Unfortunately, the probability of  snow days occurring in South Florida are very, very low.

Weather down here is pretty much the same all year around. Instead of having the typical seasons the rest of country experiences; fall, winter, spring and summer, South Floridians embrace summer. If you want to get down to the real specifics, our summer(year) consists of  the wet season and the dry season. Wet season is also known as hurricane season and the rest of the year is dry( as in, it doesn't rain every day but is incredibly humid and sometimes hard to breath).

Thus, snow days turn into hurricane days down here, with a few minor changes.

  1. There is no playing outside while a hurricane is in action. Palm trees hitting you in the face does not sound like a smart idea in retrospect.
  2. when a hurricane comes or is threatening to come to south Florida, it is a given fact that people will lose all ability to drive properly( for a state where it rains all the time, people will never learn to drive well)
  3. even if its a tropical storm, the weather men/women will make it seem as if the world is ending outside.
  4. number 3 leads to all grocery stores and gas stations being depleted of all products 2-6 days before the hurricane hits land, that's if it even hits land
  5. Floridians will complain about the hurricane no matter what the outcome. The hurricane hits= people complain. The hurricane misses= people complain 
  6. hurricane parties will occur so stock up :)

Hurricane/tropical storm Issac visited south Florida this past weekend.

picture courtesy of a friend who actually took a picture during the storm
Erick has a leak on(or is it in) his roof and spent the vast majority of the weekend with me at my parents house. The never ending rain, wind and thunder/lighting welcomed movie marathons and ample time to catch up on my favorite television series. E was grateful for the extra day to read for school and I was grateful for my warm bed that never let me get up. After all whats a good rain day without napping in bed all day long and cookies( cookies appeared in the form of cereal)

Funny Hurricane Picture!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Trending on my pinterest

casual chunky boots perfect for the change in weather
coral hunter rain boots to get my through hurricane season
Sunday brunch: oven pancakes with berries and powdered sugar
a bright pink typewriter for those inspired days
the perfect Christmas gift: homemade vanilla extract for all things sweet

Friday, August 24, 2012

Iowagirleats: cheesy broccoli orzo

With our crazy, hectic and somewhat school driven lives taking over, Erick and I haven't been able to keep up with our daily lunches. With so much going on at work and the university growing so quickly(over 2,700 new students this semester)I have been forced to start eating at my desk while my eyes are glued to the computer screen. Who would have known that as I got older, I would have become my father. Sometimes I worry that I take work too seriously and don't enjoy life too much. But today, all that is about to change! Instead of going from having lunch every day together to never having lunch together, Erick and I have finagled our ways to establish Friday lunches!

I told him I would be in charge of lunch today so I knew I had to go through my trusty list of food blogger and find something that was easy, delicious and could travel well. I love Iowa Girl Eats and all of her no fuss recipes. Her food is to the point, healthy and very tasty! I would definitely recommend everyone stop by her blog, you wont be disappointed.

I found her Cheesy Broccoli Orzo recipe and new it would be a hit.

Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Serves 3-4
1 cup orzo
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 cup 2% milk
Add orzo to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes then add chopped broccoli and cook for 2 more minutes, or until orzo is tender. Drain well (broccoli florets are notorious for holding onto water) then return to the pot. Add cheeses, butter, and 1/4 cup milk then stir well and add more milk if needed. Season with salt to taste.

With all the ingredients waiting for me at home, I was excited to dash out of the office and get to it. All the photo's are courtesy of Iowa Girl Eat's post regarding her cheesy broccoli orzo. She is a much better food photographer than I ever hope I can be. I often find that the more pictures a recipe has the easier it is for me NOT to mess up.

Once the water comes to a boil, I added a little bit of salt to the water and added a cup and a half of the orzo pasta. Next time, I plan to add a lot more orzo since, my dad and Luis gobbled down all the left overs really quickly!

After the orzo has been cooking for a little while, add as much broccoli as you want. the recipe calls for a cup and a half but I added a lot more. I also made sure to cut the broccoli into smaller pieces since I was afraid the broccoli would be too big compared to the tiny pasta.

After i drained the pasta and broccoli mixture, I returned it to the pan to add the final ingredient.

Unfortunately, I didn't have 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, so I added more grated sharp Cheddar. stir everything well to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated and add seasoning to taste.

 Disclaimer: this recipe, pictures and idea all below to the Iowa Girl Eats blog. All credit is given to her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cross two of the list! Part 2

Saturday night’s experience was amazing compared to Sunday’s lunch.

My parents frequently mention that I don’t spend enough time with them especially compared to the amount of time my brother spends with my dad. So when Sunday’s lunch came around, it seemed only logical to make plans with my parents since my brother was out of town.

I was told we were going to go to a local burger joint in our neighborhood for a no fuss meal with the potential of a movie afterward. This did not happen! Instead, we found our way to the Village of Merrick Park- an upscale shopping, dining and entertainment location. There we decided to have lunch at a restaurant called Crave.

My dad will tell you that this is when we should have known that our experience would have been anything but atrocious since there might have been only two people sitting at outside section of the restaurant.  An empty restaurant is always a bad sign, especially at an upscale location like Merrick Park.

When we finally were seated inside, we received one bad experience after another. It took our waiter 25 minutes just to take our drink order. After they brought us water, he forgot about us again. It wasn’t until he was flirting with two young women at a table relatively close to us, that I was forced to call his attention in order to place our order. It took us roughly thirty minutes to receive our appetizers. By this moment, we were extremely hungry and the restaurant does not offer bread to snack on as you wait for 55 minutes since being seated to get something to eat. Our appetizers were brought to the table at different moments, forcing everyone to wait until everyone had their food. What was surprising was that my mom and dad both ordered the same appetizers and it didn’t arrive together? My garden salad was anything but memorable, overdressed (even the plate had dressing on it) and under ingredients.

For a restaurant that made us wait almost an hour for food, I was surprised that we weren’t even done with our appetizers when the main course arrived. This time, everyone got their food at the same time, except the server couldn’t remember who got what and when we reminded him he still gave us the wrong plates. It was very strange. The portions were what we expected, and the food was good. The burger was very juicy and seasoned well. My mother ordered the apple, brie and chicken flat bread and it too was seasoned well and tasty.

The desserts also called mini indulgences were very, extremely disappointing. They tasted nothing like they were supposed to. The tiramisu was the best to say the least and it tasted like cacao powder. The strawberry shortcake was all whipped cream and the blueberry cheesecake was the worst dessert I have ever tasted in my life and that’s a statement!

If I had to grade the restaurant I don’t think an F would do it justice so a letter grade of a Z should do the trick! The service was dreadful; the waiter didn’t realize we were clients. The food was subpar. The location was nice; however, the bathroom (which the restaurant had a massive bathroom sign with an arrow pointing in its direction, so that you never miss it, even visually impaired people could see it) was right next to the kitchen. It was a logistic mess. You could see the waiters coming in and out of the kitchen, I even saw a sushi chef give another sushi chef a massage behind the sushi bar/area. It was an open concept restaurant so you could see the line cooks and the waiters picking up food. The acoustics of the restaurant were also ghastly. It was as if you were invited to overhear everyone’s conversations.

I was one very unhappy customer and would definitely never go back! I normally would take pictures of the entire meal to share with you guys but in this case, I didn’t see the need.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cross two of the list! part 1

This weekend sure was focused on trying new places and eating our weight in food. On Saturday night, Erick and I went to a Miami spice restaurant named Mercadito in Midtown. During last year’s Miami spice time, I kept coming back to this restaurant on the website and wished that I had enough time to go. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out last year but timing was on my side( especially since Erick feels as if he has to spend every waking minute with me that he isn’t in school, to balance out his new busy and nerdy lifestyle- I AM NOT COMPLAINING J )

The restaurant was quite a drive from my house, roughly 20 miles away. That’s not really far in Miami but it doesn’t mean I like it. Being in cars for a long time, especially if I am not the driver, freaks me out. I get really nervous and suffer from some strange and inexplicably high amount of anxiety thinking that people suck at driving and will inevitably crash into me.  I know, strange thoughts but everyone has them! The restaurant was very full and the atmosphere was very relaxed and pretty awesome. They have both outdoor seating (think lots of twinkly lights and bohemian outdoor seating) and indoor seating. Erick selected indoor seating so we had to wait a little for our seats, which gave me loads of time to scope out the place and pay attention to the smallest details. 

From the menu, it seemed that Mercadito is centered around family style/ordering loads of small plates/small bites/ tapas type/you might go hungry of restaurant.  As a disclaimer, I must confess that I dislike frufru restaurants where the food is smaller than a utensil and they make you feel as if you left hungrier than when you arrived. I was deeply afraid for the restaurant. Fortunately, Erick had pizza a few hours before we got there and I just had finished a post run protein shake that we weren’t ravenous and hungray( being mad because we are extremely hungry- this is an Erick word, I did not make it up)

The ordering process was a little bit tedious since you and your dinner partner have to select the exam same thing to eat because you have to share everything( I told you it was strange!) After you order your drink, you select two types of guacamole, we selected the elote( with corn and cheese) and the traditional one. The chips that came with the guacamole were very delicious. It reminded me of Stacy’s Pita chips except these were warm and had no salt.

The guacamole was followed by a second appetizer of melted cheese topped with wild mushrooms and served with a spicy sauce and four small warm corn tortillas(  yes, we had two appetizers. This was also very good. I love cheese and you can serve it to me any way and you’ll never hear a complaint from me.

The main course of meal were a selection of three types of tacos( two came per serving) that you shared, that way each of you gets to try a taco. We ordered Taco’s Al Pastor, Carne and Baja Style. For sure, hands down, the best taco was the Al Pastor. It was the perfect combination of spicy from the chipotle sauce and sweet from the roasted pineapple. Erick isn’t a huge fan of pork but these tacos were amazing. The Carne tacos were somewhat disappointing and lacked flavor and substance. I also thought it was strange how they had potatoes in a taco. The Baja Style tacos were enjoyed solely by me since Erick wasn’t feeling the fish. It was beer battered and fried to a crisp and topped with a refreshing coleslaw that had excellent crunch.

After our main course, we received our side dish of macho plantains which consisted of sweet plantains with a jalapeno ginger sauce. Now, please don’t ask me why we received our side dish after we ate our tacos because three days later, I still don’t know. The sweet plantains however, were very very good. Im a huge fan of fried sweet plantains(although when I ordered this dish I would have sworn on my life that I ordered fried green plantains also known as tostones and not sweet plantains but oh well)  I actually also enjoyed the jalapeno ginger sauce much more than I ever thought I would.

Dessert was also a pleasant surprise, to share we had a cheesecake with passion fruit and hibiscus syrup. I didn’t care for the cookie part of the cheesecake but the passion fruit and hibiscus syrup were AMAZING.  Perfect combination of sweet and tart and all yummy.

Overall, I gave the restaurant a B grade. Beautiful decorations filled the large open concept of a room, the atmosphere was welcoming. However, the food wasn’t anything I would recommend someone MUST try. If someone told me they were in the area I would recommend they stop by. The one thing that I wasn’t crazy about was the 1468138746974 little food on huge plates and the small portions of food. I consider myself a practical person so I never understand why restaurants are obsessed with bringing your food in large plates and never fit on your table. At one time in the evening, Erick and I both had our individual tasting plates, two glasses of water, our fancy water bottle(that we did not request but did pay for), my margarita glass, erick’s beer, and 3 large taco plates. We barely had any space to breath. The waitress also forgot about us for a little which made for some perfect staring competitions between Erick and I.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

La dolce vita

On Wednesday, my office celebrated our associate director’s retirement after 35 years of commitment to our university and her favorite two things: eat and talk. Talk about a long and dedicated career! The best way to celebrate a person is always through loads of Italian food, Italian desserts and great music. An open bar didn’t hurt either ;)

Putting together this retirement celebration reminded me of my collegiate years and sorority recruitment. I woke up early, work comfortable clothing ready for heavy lifting and getting messy with decorations. Picked up both of my supervisors and drove the event location. Our goal for the event was to create a family style reception where everyone felt comfortable and at home! I think we were pretty successful.

the tables were ment to look like little italian restaurant tables

mason jars full of garden flowers

a dessert bar: mini cannolis, cassata cake and mini fruit tarts

a dessert bar

ricotta cheesecake, tiramisu and cookies
The lovely gift we gave our Associate Director to remember us by

The memory table, we invited people to leave their recipes for the sweet life

our recommendations for kathy


unfortunately, steph blinked but its our only picture

my boss and me! together we make the University of Miami's colors

Our office team

Steph, Jo and me

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grades and School

Woohoo grades came out today and I actually did a whole lot better than I expected.

I have this horrible, terrible, really awful habit of worrying myself about school and especially grades to the point of illness. I'm pretty sure that all the stress from finals and work during the last two weeks manifested itself into gastritis and my stomach does not appreciate it at all. unfortunately, due to my stress levels my coffee habit had to take the back burner this week. I limited myself to a tall cup of coffee twice this week only.

When I saw this imagine online I couldn't help but laugh.

On the plus side, Erick finished his first week of law school! So far, its a lot of homework, reading and hours in class. He actually let me take a picture of his going to his first class on the first day. You can tell he wasn't thrilled but, he cant blame me for trying to capture the memory!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cibo wine bar

I can finally cross of a restaurant from the Miami Spice list I created a week or so ago and boy was it fantastic!

My Top 16 Restaurants to Go Broke At

Peacock Garden Cake
Mercadito in midtown
Jaguar Ceviche Spoor bar
Amalfi On the Beach
Café Sambal
Armillary Grill
Angelique Euro Café
Cibo Wine Bar
De Luca Food and Wine
Seasons 52

Because I barely ever drive, I hadn’t noticed that Cibo Wine bar was actually at the center of Miracle Mile and in front of the parking garage we always use. Small world full of lovely restaurants. We went for lunch and I was surprised that we were the only ones there at that time. We were greeted in a warm manner and the young lady who was our server was very attentive and very personable.

The restaurant reminded me on the small little whole in the wall Italian restaurants that Erick and I visited while we were on vacation last winter. It was warm, inviting and smelled of freshly baked bread!
our booth

the view from where we were sitting

my dad, mom, me and Margaret

We, of course, wanted to try everything on the menu and that is exactly what we did! I’m a huge fan of caprese salad( fresh tomato, mozzarella and basil drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar) and any time I see it on a menu, I HAVE to order it. The servings were huge and the mozzarella was creamy and fresh.

the restaurant actually called this salad :mozzarella di bufala

My mother and Margaret both ordered the Caesar salad which was tad heavy on the anchovy paste but equally delicious.

loved the overload of cheese

My dad’s appetizer might have been the best after my salad; he ordered the meatballs in tomato sauce. It was served in a large bowl accompanied by loads of fresh bread!

meatballs! sorry for the blurry picture, my dad didnt want to take the picture

Our main course selections were also very tasty. This time, Margaret and I ordered the gorgonzola gnocchi. Light little balls of potato goodness accompanied by a sauce made of gorgonzola cheese. To my taste it was a tad salty.

My mother ordered the seafood pasta and wasn’t impressed. I didn’t try her main course so I can’t comment on it.

My dad too was unimpressed by his main course of chicken with spinach and other veggies. He said it was a little dry and nothing special that he can’t make at home.  

blurry picture again thanks to dad!

Desserts at Cibo are the most wonderful and decedent treats I have had in a while. I am in constant search for a tiramisu that can top the one from the restaurant Erick took me on our first year anniversary dinner. The one at Cibo came in pretty close. It was cold, creamy and had a lot of chocolate powder sprinkled on top.  I wish it would have had more coffee but beggars cannot be choosers… well except in in the search for the person tiramisu.
dessert one

 The second dessert of the meal was a chocolate bomb which to me tasted identical to a Ferrero Roche chocolate, except ten times better! I would go to the restaurant just for that chocolate ball, their bread with extra virgin olive oil and their appetizers. The Ferrero Roche look-alike dessert had a cookie bottom filled with a chocolate filling and covered with more chocolate. I really cannot find the words to describe how amazing it was! If you go, even if it’s not during Miami Spice, please please try this dessert! You will not be disappointed, I swear!!!!

The Ferrero Roche chocolate bomb!