Sunday, October 31, 2010

Elfman+Burton= This is Halloween

Although intriguing, I don't think I'm enough of an Elfman/Burton nut to splurge on their 25th Anniversary music box coming out in December.

In addition to 16 newly produced CD soundtracks from each of their cinematic collaborations (with previously unreleased stuff), the music box includes a literal music box, book, DVD and skeleton flash drive (filled with additional goodies).

What I really want? The new CD artwork by Burton - fantastic and maybe a little reminiscent of the other king of Halloween, Edward Gorey?

Head over to the site for more album covers and some creepy music box renditions of Elfman's most recognizable themes.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Manly Cupcakes for Manly Men

Oh yes, Butch Bakery. I spotted these guys on Daily Candy a while ago and was reminded of them while enjoying a decidedly frilly pumpkin cupcake from DC staple, Georgetown Cupcake the other day.

I could definitely get behind "The Driller" - maple cake topped with crumbled bacon and chocolate ganache or one of their boozier options like the above "B-52" Kahlua soaked madagascar cake with Bailey's bavarian filling. Who knew manly men had such good taste in petite desserts - move over lady cakes!! My NY friends can be expecting a box of these on their b-day.

The Beheading of Antoinette

Available on Threadless - designed by Leroy Hornblower

Two things I'm loving, ok three...

1. Owl cupcakes on One Charming Party - Blogger & Salt Lake City event planner, Brittany focuses on kiddos, but I wouldn't mind having these at our Halloween shindig.

Photo from One Charming Party

2. EVERYTHING on EmersonMade - I mean, this is nothing new, but every time I go on her site, I swoon. Her blog, her flowers, her clothes, her pics of little plastic animals. Topping my list right now though, are the old-school straight leg jeans and this awesome flower, the Ungloombloom

Photos from EmersonMade
I mean - those jeans are amazing right?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today DC alternated between brilliant sunshine and complete and total deluge. At one point looking outside I could have sworn it was nearing 7 p.m. when in reality it was closer to 1 - that dark. Paired with the tornado warning D. forwarded from his office and we had a meteorologically exciting day, which was exactly the kind of day I'd been waiting for since my sister sent me these absolutely gorgeous (and totally work appropriate) Burberry wellies for my birthday.

Jealous? I mean, who wouldn't want it to rain everyday with these in their closet. In case you're craving a pair, they're still available on Zappos.

Despite the storminess, temperatures are holding in the 70's - still doesn't really feel like fall.

Getting ready for Halloween this weekend - any fun plans or costumes up your sleeve?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wedding: Invitations & Save the Dates

Photo by Erik Clausen
I thought I'd start our wedding story with what most of our friends and family had as their first glimpse of our wedding.

Photo by Erik Clausen
You may remember my various posts  on different 'save the dates' and then finally inspiration struck (or the self-imposed timeline ran out). What better way to introduce the wedding than with D.'s iconic choice of the top hat. We designed these on photoshop and had them printed at Vistaprint - cheap and easy.

Photo by Erik Clausen
The invitations were a much more involved process after being so smitten by other 'booklet' invites we'd spotted on blogs here and there. We knew a simple bi or tri-fold layout wasn't going to cut it.

Photo by Erik Clausen

Invitation Pg. 1 Detail

The black and white artwork was sourced from istockphoto and the fabulously free clip art directory hosted by the University of South Florida - Clipart ETC  don't even get me started on the anatomical drawings.

Invitation Pg. 2-3 Spread

D. built our map centerfold using a 1950's map of Denver with a few tweaks (including airbrushing out Stapleton). The fonts throughout were sourced from inspirational time suck

Invitation pg. 4-5 Spread

Invitation pg. 7 Detail

Invitation Pg. 8 Detail

Our black linen cover stock and velvet textured pages all came from The Paper Mill Store. Having the cover stock pre-scored saved us loads of time and ensured that the spines were nice and straight. The scalloped labels used on the covers and our black and white striped envelope liners came from Envelopper Inc.

RSVP Card 5   RSVP Card 4

Our RSVP cards mimicked library cards printed on card stock and tucked into actual library card pockets  purchased from, where else, The Library Store.

After dozens of mock-ups, thousands of nudges and hours of kerning on photoshop - I handed our files and paper over to the understanding people at Metro Press, a print shop a few blocks from my office. They were the first wedding invitations anyone had brought in, which might have scared a few people. Luckily, picking Metro Press was a good call - small and family run, they devoted a lot of time to making sure that everything was just right and printed out plenty of proofs for me. 

The final printed pages were stitched into each cover - by hand (by me!) with black and white licorice twine from Divine Twine. Then stuck into kraft paper envelopes from Paper Presentation (who also supplied the RSVP card envelopes) which were lined in the aforementioned black and white liners from Envelopper Inc.

Outer Envelope 1

I'll also let you in on a little secret - if it wasn't already obvious. That's not my handwriting, but a great choice of font, printed and traced painstakingly.

Our return address stamp and the library date stamp were both purchased on Rubber Stamp Champ, where I'm getting ready to order a new version for "The Watsons."

P.S. Thanks to blogger friend Julie for noticing the new layout around here. If you can't tell, I'm looking for graphic design activities.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Are you Happy?

I love this print from H/34

Green Chile

I know I promised wedding posts, and I'm working on it - although at this point, I'm sure you're so saturated with my wedding that you can't wait to get it over with and move on to what? Christmas cookies?

Soon enough my friends. But for now, what can cure my threatening head cold and flavor every ice cube in my fridge by sheer power of proximity? Oh, it is green chile season.

Photo from Flash in the Pan
For those of you who did not grow up anywhere near the southwest and think I'm referring to jalapenos, I'm sorry. For those of you still living in an area where road-side stands are perfuming the highways, count yourselves lucky and pick up an extra bushel for me.

Nothing could be more fall than the smoky heat of roasted green chiles - and how lucky am I that D. brought a massive cooler-full back from his trip to NM last week.

So here are two of the many green chile recipes we will be trying out over the next few months. Although they are also excellent on a sandwich or a drive-thru burger.

Green Chile Dip
1c. cream cheese
1c. sour cream
10 roasted green chiles, skinned, seeded & chopped
garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste (you could also use 1-2 cans of hatch green chile)

There are two ways to go about this dip.
1. Chop up the chiles and mix them with the other ingredients - eat!
2. Put the chiles and half of the sour cream into a food processor or blender. Process and then fold in cream cheese and remaining sour cream. Season - eat!
The second method makes for the most flavorful dip. Let it sit overnight in the fridge and it's even better the next day.

Green Chile Pork
1 1/2 lbs. pork (the original recipe called for shoulder or butt our grocery had neither so we used tenderloin)
Salt & Pepper
2 c. water
1c. chicken stock
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
3/4 lb. tomatillos - husks removed
7 roasted green chiles, skinned & seeded & chopped
Shredded Mexican Cheese

This is a little involved for a weeknight, but definitely worth your while!

Cut the pork into 1" cubes, season with salt and pepper and brown in a little bit of canola oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Depending on the size of your skillet, you might do this in batches so pork isn't too crowded to brown.

In a separate sauce pan, bring water and chicken broth to a boil. Add cilantro, garlic and tomatillos - all whole. Boil until tomatillos are tender, depending on size 5-10 minutes. Drain off the liquid and put the vegetables into a food processor or blender. Puree until the consistency of a light gravy (you may need to add a little more chicken broth).

Add pureed tomatillo sauce and chopped green chiles to browned pork. Stir well and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered for 25-30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. 

Serve with tortillas, lime, cheese and sour cream!

If you're in the neighborhood and need some chile, stop by, our freezer is stocked!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Wedding Featured on Ruffled

Our wedding is featured on fabu indie wedding blog, Ruffled today. Go check it out! I will be blogging about it here as well in the coming days.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part IX - La Grande Finale

Day 8 -  Our grand finale also included an appropriately "now or never" breakfast before we headed out to the Opera Garnier walking past the Palais Royale (mostly enclosed in covered scaffolding for renovations) and then a surprising Japanese district hidden away on Rue Sainte-Anne on our way.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand FinaleHoneymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale
Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

The Opera is undergoing some renovations of its own, and I was concerned that they might impact our visit. Luckily no - the Opera Garnier was as magnificent as ever, from grand staircase to petite bibliotheque with set models embedded into its bookcases with glass windows for viewing the tiny operatic worlds.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Post-Opera, we dedicated ourselves to some shopping - we were in Paris after all and just around the corner from Galeries Lafayette and loads of other stores. With successful purchases in hand, we tried to make a late lunch at La Cordonnerie - Trip Adviser's #1 restaurant in Paris - unfortunately only open for dinner. We made plans to return  but needed to seek out sustenance in the meantime.

Our rambling walk took us by Place Vendome and a previous Paris stay at the Park Hyatt, then onto the Grand Cafe on the Boulevard Capucines for their "tea hour." Tea hour came with a special of any coffee or tea drink with a dessert of your choice. Definitely a French Happy Meal. D. thought this to be a great plan for implementing at home - skip lunch and eat a giant dessert instead.

Our giant desserts were superb. Dan ordered a grand assortment - featuring a miniature version of every dessert on the menu. I stuck with a strawberry tart. All was thoroughly enjoyed before stepping out for even more shopping.

As shops began to close, we hiked back over to La Cordonnerie for a dinner we could already smell wafting out of the kitchen and down the street. Unfortunately there were no tables available that evening. No tables! So that dinner we were smelling wasn't ours.

Thus commenced a long walk through Tuileries and across the bridge to Cafe Voltaire which we had tried earlier in the week (ferme) but knew to be open now. D. made a reservation for us at 9, and we walked down the block for two beers while we waited. The sunset over the Seine was spectacular.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Dinner back at Cafe Voltaire was a grand finale to say the least. We began with a cassoulet of escargots - snails removed from their shells and bathed in a soup bowl of butter, garlic & parsley which we heartily slurped and mopped up with every crumb of bread in the basket.

For our plat - a côte de bœuf for deux (2). Elaborate, extreme a dish out of some mid-century restaurant preserved only in France - essentially the perfect honeymoon choice. The beef was grilled with thyme and arrived at our table perfectly medium rare and meltingly tender. Along with it, sides of grilled butter-coated mushrooms (also sprinkled with thyme), a small dish of mashed potatoes and another of pureed carrots along with a crispy mound of pommes frites and a side of bernaise (our special request - we like butter on our butter). I ate and ate and ate. I ate until I was nearly sick, and then ate some more. We split an earthy burgundy, Chateau Panet from the year we met and savored every drop and every morsel as boats passed by on the river below.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Our ambition gave out before the steak was finished and when the waiter came to clear it away, our request for two cafes became for two cafes and chocolate mousse for deux, which was presented in a large china bowl with a silver spoon and a side of assorted cookies. The raspberry meringues were my favorites.

This meal was epic - we'll never forget it - and it required a long walk back to the hotel to even begin to temper its effects.

Although I wish we could have dropped of into a happy food coma dreamland, our early flight necessitated staying up and packing before catching a cab to Charles de Gaulle at three a.m. This may or may not have been necessary or reflective of our correct flight time, but I'll leave that to my husband to sort out.

This trip was fantastic - the wedding and the week leading up to it; divine. I'm still not quite sure how to re-acclimate to normality after three weeks of complete and total joy. I know life will pick up and move on, but I hope to hang on to the perspective given by rising to such heights and use it to point us towards our next adventure.

Honeymoon - Day 8 Opera & Le Grand Finale

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part VIII - Le Louvre

We didn't wake up earlier. The grey sky and rainy day made sleeping in even more irresistable before grabbing what we referred to as our "now or never" breakfast in which we literally rolled out of bed and directly downstairs to buffet before heading back up to the room to get fully ready for the day. I'm sure the other hotel guests loved us.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

Finally ready to roll, we hit the Louvre along with every other tourist in Paris inspired by the rain to spend the day inside. The place was a zoo to say the least and we bumped and bustled through the halls, hitting the highlights along the way - the foundation of the medieval Louvre (always cool) along with some Greek antiquities and probably a little too much time in Ancient Egypt.

I was surprised by how much I'd forgotten standing in front of the large-scale neoclassical paintings in the grand hall, home to my many classes in the Louvre. Whereas I once knew the full story behind each painting, I found myself struggling with artist names and historical details, all causing me to lament the current lack of art history in my life.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

Well, we've landed. More than landed - we're back to DC & have been for a couple days. Reality bites and there have been meltdowns aplenty soothed only by margaritas with friends and tonight's re-release of Avatar 3D IMAX. I see you Jake Sully. But, before waxing poetic about the blue people of Pandora - I have a story to finish.

So as noted, my art history expertise is certainly not as sharp as it once was, which is sad, but it was while lamenting this that D. came up with super-genius plan #1.

Should D. decide to do a little grad school a la Sorbonne, A. could become a tour guide and spend her days studying and educating others about the artistic gems of Paris - fantastique! Right? Only my Borat-French would need major improvements and my clients would have to be paying top dollar if we were to have any hope of living in Paris and not on one of its stoops.

This plan hatched mid-Louvre inspired many discussions throughout the day.

We grabbed lunch in the musee cafe; quiche salad for two as we marveled at the most exceptional mullet topping one of the garcons.

Post-lunch, we made a pilgrimage to the far end of the Richelieu wing to check out the Napoleon III apartments, something neither of us had seen.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

These rooms dedicated to some government ministry and connecting the Louvre with the Tuileries (How, I'm not entirely sure) are preserved in all of their ornate glory. Incredible salons, hallways and dining rooms in flocked velvet, crystal and gold. It's like a mini-Versailles or Fontainebleau right in the middle of the city.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

With the Louvre fermé for the day, we scouted out ice cream bars from a tourist cafeteria on Rivoli and enjoyed them while reclining fountain-side in the Tuileries.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

Again we lamented the state of American parks, noting a distinct lack of chairs, especially comfortably reclined models like these. They would be lovely around the reflecting pool.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...

For dinner, we ventured to Montparnasse and deco landmark, La Coupole for dinner. The oysters were fantastic, the main courses, not so much. The famous lamb curry served since 1927 was hardly worthy of any fame and D.'s scallops with raviolis boasted very little scallops.

For dessert, we passed at La Coupole and hit up the crepe stand across the street for Citron Sucre and Nutella & Banane. They were enjoyed with ridiculous commentary as we made our way to the metro.

Honeymoon - Day 7 Louvre etc...
"Je suis un super plus grand crepe." "Merci."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lune de Miel - Part VII - A Perfect Picnic

Day 6 - It was hard to make it out of bed. Our wedding and Paris marching exhaustion was catching up to us, and we were le tired. No hotel breakfast - we slept straight through it.

Instead of our usual spread of cheeses, breads and D.'s 5-6 pain au chocolats, we had the best lunchtime fare Paris could offer. Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you L'As du Fallafal!!!


Only a few blocks from our chambre at Pl. Vosges stands a monument to the greatest of street foods. We visited this favorite spot several times during my last stay in Paris, although we were never quite sure how we found it in the winding streets of the Marais. D. and I came prepared with map and found it quickly as the crowds in front of us started to build.

IMG_6371Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A PicnicIMG_6367
We were told to get in line (as VIP's) where we ordered two shawarma with everything plus hot sauce (picant). Our wait was rewarded at the window where I was handed a fond memory of France in the form of warm chewy pita bread overflowing with shredded meat from the kebab, tender morsels of fried eggplant, mountains of purple cabbage and green cucumber slaw all topped with a heavy drizzle of tzatziki and a dollop of red pepper sauce that was really more flavor than heat.



Heaven. We stand off to the side devouring our pita pockets of joy and then fight impending food comas as we slowly shuffle towards the metro and off to Les Invalides - a Parisian landmark I'd yet to visit.

I believe it was Louis XIV who began construction on Les Invalides as a sort of hospital/barracks to house wounded veterans from his wars. The formula was a mix of religious and military where soldiers could heal while working in workshops, attending church and in a way, extending their military careers.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic
The barracks and workshops have been converted into a museum of French military history, and the grand church which once allowed king and soldiers to pray together by entering on two different sides of two churches joined together by a glass wall at the apse to create an impression of unity - is now a tomb to Napoleon and Napoleon III along with many other military greats and family members from the man who gave rise to the term "nepotism."

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic
Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

We spent most of our abbreviated day in the military museum, with far too much time in the ancient armor which resulted in us nearly missing an important segment of history: revolution-2nd Empire which had been recently renovated and re-opened since D.'s last visit. Our speed through of those 100 years probably left a lot to be desired for him. Another reason to return.

I think the highlight of the visit was the new map and model museum housed in the attic where massive scale-models of French fortresses from the late 1700's were housed. Not only were the fortresses from the 1700's (and earlier) the models themselves were built for Louis' court for defense strategy sessions in the 1700's. After climbing the stairs to the darkened attic (for the preservation of the models) D. may or may not have exclaimed, breathlessly "this is the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life."

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Fortresses explored - Napoleon sped through and some time at the church with plenty of magic hour light spilling through the amber-colored windows onto the baldacchino at the altar, and we were ready to eat, again.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Before moving on, I'm reminded of much of the day's hilarity, whether the cannon that we imagined shoots out a long string of play-doh spaghetti or the armee de bebe made up of decorative childrens' suits of armor - or anything else we saw and laughed at. I know this will make no sense to anyone, but I will read it and remember.

So we were in a bit of a pickle about what to do for dinner. We were in close proximity to the Eiffel Tower and didn't know if we would be again on our trip. The weather was parfait for a picnic, but it was also Sunday, so the supermarchés were fermé and the selection at the épiceries, not so hot. We made it as far as a baguette and a warmed up slice of quiche quickly melting in its wax paper at the bottom of my bag. Melt down was imminent - so we detoured for a boisson - a leffe at Le Champ de Mars (the cafe).

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic

Resourceful D. ran around and acquired a bottle of wine, some cheeses, a saucisson and some fresh berries all before I finished my beer. Picnic in hand we proceeded to the Champ de Mars (the place) at the base of the tower where we feasted and remembered a four-hour picnic on Bastille Day five years earlier with plus friends, plus food and plus plus wine, preceeded, of course by a picnic seven years earlier where flush with sips of wine, my first sight of the sparkling monument and experiencing it all with my new boyfriend,  I could have never imagined what the future held. D. polished off his requisite wedge of roquefort, I nibbled port salut and marvelled at how quickly time flies and how improbable that a girl from Colorado would watch her life change through snapshots taken in the city of lights.

After dining, reclining and a quick cafe at a nearby bistro that was too nearby to be anything authentic, we walked down the Seine and across the bridge to the Trocadero for a fantastic view of the sparkling tower before calling it a night and vowing to wake up earlier the next day to take in the Louvre.

Honeymoon  - Day 6 Falafel, Invalides & A Picnic