Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Going Into The Closet

Even if you've only been following my blog or twitter a short time, you have likely noticed I've got a preoccupation with chaotic closets...and trying to rebuild order.  My house is not normally a place of clutter, but for the past 6 months or more I have found myself in state of disarray with clothing and shoes piled up all over the place.  It actually started to hinder my ability to think clearly and I felt a little depressed, so as my birthday approached I made a commitment to myself to pull it together and regain a well-kept space.

Off my dining room is a narrow walk-in closet that beckoned to me in the night, "I will house your clothing in an orderly fashion kind woman.  If you build it, I will store."  Apparently it must have been whispering to the Chef too because he showed up here a couple weeks ago with a rad closet organizer that saved my life.  Last week I said sayonara to a year of my life and a bunch of clutter, too.  Yippee!!  My clean house is back...and it all started with this closet.

You don't have to be kind.  It was a hot mess.
Can you say clutter?
Don't worry I'll say it for you. 
But now look!!!   
What was that?  You want a close up??  Me too!!
To the left is a wardrobe/shelving unit that holds 
hanging items, boxes of boots...
and some of my most favorite folded cashmere.
 On the right are personalized hooks I found at Anthropologie.
They're perfect for holding bags, belts, and scarves.  
I love to see my initials hanging on the wall when I walk in.  Cool!
 The upper part of the back of the closet was the perfect
place to install a hangbar for coats and jackets. 
They were taking up so much space squishing blouses, dresses
and other fine articles of clothing.  Now I can shop my closets!
Below them is shelving that is ideal for storing shoes.
It doesn't hold all of my shoes, but at least it holds several
pairs of my favorites and creates more order in the other closets.
Here's the space behind the door.  
There's still room for more shelves higher up to hold 
additional pairs of shoes.  I want to use as much of the space as wisely
as possible - without overcrowding it.
Here's the view out of the closet.  
It gives a sense of how deep the space really is. 
I picked up a couple of these rugs at Ikea.  
Today I actually laid down on them right inside the closet.
It's my new happy place.

For months I've looked at fancy closets far and wide and wished I could figure something out in my own space.  One day it dawned on me...uh, Carrie - you're not Olivia Palermo (or anyone else who has a big ol' space for a big ol' closet).  Fortunately (at least a little anyway) I don't have her wardrobe to house either.  All it took was the willpower to get rid of a bunch of things and re-organize the stuff that was remaining in order to clear this walk-in and regain a sense of order. It also took a boyfriend who shopped Home Depot's aisles like a pro to get the best configuration possible for the limited space I have to work with.  Thank-you again Chef.  I owe you big time!!

I've never had a nice closet like this - at least it's a big deal to me - and I wanted to share it with all of you to encourage you to reconsider an area you might have that could be waiting for you to use it in a new way.  I was so overwhelmed with stuff that I couldn't think straight.  A good purge and a reasonably priced closet organizer later, I'm feeling so much better. 

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?  Are you ever tempted to just throw it all away and start fresh?

P.S. Don't forget to enter the CSN Giveaway!!  Goes til Wednesday at 11:59 PST.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Recovery Mode

Last week I was talking to my friend Rosamond and we were discussing how we are trying to "grow up" on the subject of our birthdays and, specifically, how we handle them *read:  lower expectations so as not to be devastated*.  I don't know what is wrong with me but some years I have worked my expectations up so high, even without realizing it, and then been acutely aware of the feeling of being let down when the truth is the day was wonderful.  Ugh! Growing pains.

About a month ago I caught myself in a similar mode thinking I was 8 years old and needed a big party.  The Chef was like, "Uh, are you sure you wanna do that?  I mean we can do it, but do you really think that's the way you want to spend that weekend...planning for a big ol' party?"  Well of course I hadn't really thought it over too much.  I was already at the party in my mind, don't you know? (she says shaking her head).  Aneeway. Shortly after this grand idea of mine, the Chef and I had the perfect poolside lunch at a boutique hotel in LA.  I told him that rather than being a control freak I'd leave it up to him (to the best of my ability) and back off.  All I really wanted was for my BFF of 10 years to come to town for cake.

I can honestly say, without a doubt, that my birthday this past weekend was the best I have ever had in my life.  It was filled with great food, tons of laughs, a few crazy mishaps and, most importantly, some of my closest friends.  I really do feel like crying as I'm typing these words because it was far more than I ever could have hoped for - or thought of - and I will always remember it.

The Chef made Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with sprinkled sugar and fresh raspberries
for breakfast...thanks for the idea Nikki!
 Then the doorbell started ringing and surprises started showing up.
This is one from my brother and his family...so many yummy specialty chocolates!
 Milijana sent me this wonderful gift all the way from Australia!
The bird is a beautiful dinner bell.  I love it!!
After we picked up my BFF at the airport we checked into our hotel and opened some prezzies!
And later met up with another of our friends for dinner at AOC, a favorite spot.
The next day we lounged poolside over great lunch.
Dipped our feet and relaxed.
With yummy frozen snacks in the warm sun.
The rest of the weekend was filled with more fave food.
Warm beach days.
My favorite World Class Chocolate Ice Cream Cake.
 This movie, after which I realized I want to be Evelyn Salt, 
run up walls and kick heads off. I guess I really am growing up.  Haha!
Mad laughs with the BFF...the first friend I made in the US.
A friend sandwich over even more wonderful food.
And then a sad "see ya next time".  Sigh.  It all went by so fast.

I didn't even include half of the stuff that went on or my other friend who drove over 2 hours just to bring me a card and give it to me face to face.  The things we were able to do made my birthday fun, but it was being in the company of some of my favorite people that made it memorable and heartwarming and a day I'll never forget.  I owe a major shout out and x's and o's to infinity to the Chef who made the entire weekend more than I ever could have on my own.  So much love to him!!

Thanks to all of you for sticking with me during my time away from the blog.  Your birthday wishes added so much to my day and I can't wait to go back and re-read your messages.  Normal posts to resume this week...and I'm looking forward to getting caught up on all your blogs.:)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hey Shorty It's My Birthday: Giveaway!!

I'm probably out sipping a margarita and laughing the night away right now in preparation for the arrival of my BFF today at 5:30pm.  Yee hooooo!!  Okay actually that's what I would have been doing if I hadn't been swamped with work until yesterday causing Cleaning Frenzy 2010 to rear its ugly head over the past 24 hours.  The Chef and I just returned from having a sayonara toast to this past year of my life, and we are looking forward to a fun and relaxing birthday weekend.  Yessssssss!

 image via happy things

It wouldn't be right to have a birthday and not share the presents *just like a kid's party where they give out gift bags* so when the kind people at CSN offered up a giveaway to you I graciously accepted.  Instead of giving away a Dutch Oven or something I opted to put a $40 Gift Certificate up for grabs - it is valid at any of their online stores where you can stock up on shoes, furniture, or housewares.  Personally I enter these CSN giveaways like MAD.  I've already won one and am hoping to keep it up....I have my eye on a $700+ Fondue set that calls to me in the night.  I'm thinking it must make some out of this world fondueness for $700!! 

And now the specifics:

*This giveaway is open to all U.S. and Canadian readers - however there may be international shipping charges in the case of Canadian addresses (CSN only ships to the US and Canada - I'm sorry overseas readers!!  There will be something including you in the future).  The entry period will run through 11:59pm PST Wednesday, September 1, 2010 and the winners will be announced on Thursday, September 2, 2010.  The winner will be selected via random drawing.

*For one entry you must be a follower of this free bird via Google Reader, AND leave an additional comment on this post stating that you have done so.  Be sure you either leave an email address or have a link to your email on your blog so that I can contact you if you win.

*For an additional entry  blog or tweet about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with the link back stating you have done so.

And with that...I'm off!  I probably won't have a post for Friday, but will be back on Monday.  In the meantime you can follow me on Twitter for some of the latest!  Have a great weekend everyone - and Good Luck with the giveaway!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fly Away

I'm sitting here listening to the neighbor's dog bark its head off while she repeatedly hollers, "NO!" at it.  After 3 days of this I'm about to go over there and give her a rip.  Or at least holler, "NO!" to her.  I wonder if it would work?  If the dog's behavior is any indication, the answer would be no.  Or is that "NO!"?

Anyway.  It's been super warm and is early in the evening on Tuesday - just a couple seconds ago the sweetest cool breeze blew through the front door and straight out the open bedroom window in the back of the house leaving the whole place smelling like the ocean.  I have to say I love summer at the beach and am so happy it's here, even if only for just a short time.  Today was my last day of work for the week and I am officially in birthday mode (read:  cleaning before my bff from Seattle gets here and calls Hoarders for an intervention - no jokes)  I wish I was outside.  sigh

A couple of days ago the Chef and I were driving through a small beach town by my house and on a street we'd never taken.  As I glanced to the right I saw the beach no more than 50 yards away, causing me to holler, "Beach!  Stop!".  Luckily no one was behind us when he hit the brakes!!  hehe  We got out and took it in for a bit because who knows how long it will last...hopefully a month or so more, but you can never tell.  I was wearing a silk butterfly tank top by my most fave Gaby Basora - the mastermind behind Tucker.  Did you catch the preview sale for her Target Collection on Gilt last week?  It was a gong show, but I managed to hobble off with a couple of dresses and a tank...one of the dresses is in a similar butterfly print.  It won't be silk, but if I love it even half as much as the one I'm wearing here it'll be totally worth it.  I hope you are able to treat yourself to some of her collection.  It is quintessentially feminine with a touch of Parisian flair.  I never tire of any of the pieces I own, or feel bad for a little wallet slip on her stuff here and there.

I can smell the breeze when I look at this picture.  Love that!
 There's the bracelet my new friend Laeticia gave me.  
Remember that story?
Her husband made the belt too...seems I forgot to run it through
the other side of the buckle?  Woops!  Still looks and is awesome.
 Soon enough it got a little chilly.
So we just mucked around in the sand for awhile.  
Cashmere in August anyone?  oy
 I was probably tearing up because of all the cleaning that lies ahead...hehe
Perfect sunset.  Can't ask for more.  The kid with the frisbee felt the same.

Outfit details:  Tucker by Gaby Basora Tank, Gap Layer Cami, Martin+Osa Skinny Denim (RIP), Martin+Osa Cashmere Cardigan, Swedish Hasbeen Super High Peep Toe Shoes, PANYC Belt and Bracelet, Tom Ford Sunnies. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Share The Love: Answered Tags

Recently I was tagged by three lovely ladies and wanted to dedicate today's post to spotlighting their blogs and answering their questions.  When I started blogging just a few short months ago I didn't realize the camaraderie that would await me.  It is especially nice to be given fun awards and tags by fellow bloggers - learning and sharing more about one another in the process.  So without further ado I'll cut to the chase and get answering. 

Have you visited Heather at A measure of...?  She is a tremendous writer, an insightful person and has become someone I consider a friend.  We found each other before the Cuppie Challenge, of which Heather was the winner of my leg.  She recently showed Cuppie a tremendous time around Puerto Natales, Patagonia, Chile where she lives with her husband Serkan and their fetus (and yes I realize I am entirely inappropriate, but it's late and I'm beyond the point of stressed out).  Recently Heather gave me the Versatile Blogger Award.

I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself and tag 15 other blogs.  Okay - you're all tagged because I'm exhausted, my house is a full-on episode of hoarders, my birthday (aka d-day) is Thursday and my bff is coming to stay.  I'm to the brim.  Let's hug it out and whoever wants to, share it up!  Share something about yourself in the comments or 7 things in a post.  I think you're all tremendously versatile!

7 Things About Me:  I can spare you having to read a book...Not too long ago I answered these questions here.  Woop!  Click on over and take a look!

Next up is Stacey.  She is the mind behind Design Addict Mom.   I love to visit her blog and take in all the tremendous design photos she finds.  It truly is amazing.  Stacey also has a clear love for her family, and it really shines through in her posts.  Her blog is personable and informative - like visiting with a friend.  She tagged me on the Super Comments Award.

Here's the Q/A:

1. Why did you start blogging/why do you blog? Different reasons.  For years people had been stopping to ask me where I got a certain something or other.  Several times people encouraged me to start a blog - so after 3 or 4 years of procrastinating, I did.  Here I am!  Why do I continue?  I'm a creative person with a stressful job and blogging allows me to express myself and be creative.  It's a great place to channel all my extra energy.

2.  What are your 3 Best Memories?  Going to Europe in High School with several of my best friends and my kooky French teacher, the day I first saw the home I rented on the island I lived on in Washington State (it was beyond a dream come true - craftsman style, had undergone complete reno yet retained all original charm, and had water view out of every.single.window.), and the day I realized I had actually started my own business.

3. Name 2 of the Best Fiction Books You've Read (I'll give one fiction and one non):
  • Fiction:  Without a Map by Meredith Hall
  •  Non-Fiction:  Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas (arguably one of the best books I have ever read).
*I've read a ton of books and these are two that came immediately to mind.

4.  What are the 5 Best Movies Ever Made?  Gah!  I don't know.  I love movies so will list 5 of my faves - some will be totally cliche, but it's complete truth:
  • The Shawshank Redemption:  I've seen it a bazillion times and always walk away with a pearl of wisdom, crying my eyes out at the end.  "I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope."  ...Pardon me while I go get the tissues.
  • Up in the Air.  Yes it was a relatively recent release, but George Clooney's character is, essentially, me.  The movie completely spoke to me.
  • Singin' In The Rain.  Simply amazing movie.
  • Napoleon Dynamite.  Don't judge.
  • A Mighty Heart:  The Daniel Pearl Story.  That story/movie really shook me up and I don't even care much for Jolie.
  • Oh, and I have to mention Goonies and The Breakfast Club because they are classics!!
5. 5 Things I Can't Live Without:
There's nothing I can't live without.  Really.  I've had some crazy things happen to me in my life and I guess the only thing I could not survive without would be my faith in God.  For sure.

6.  If You Could Change Your Name What Would It Be?  Felicity (my fave tv show of all time!!).  BAHAHA!!  Kidding.  Seriously though I like my name.  No changes here. :)

7.  Unique and Interesting Fact About Me:  I don't know.  Is anything really unique anymore?  I grew up on a farm on the prairies in Canada, and rode the school bus to school for 2 hours in the am/pm for 12 years.  I think it's why I don't get rattled by traffic.

8.  If I had a Freaky Friday Experience Who Would I Change Places With?: Oprah.  And I would stir some things UP.  I'd be helping people so fast she wouldn't have a nickel left by the time we switched back.

9.  What is the Best Thing About Being a Woman?  That our roles are constantly changing/evolving and my generation is really the first to pave the way in regards to balancing career and having a family.  A lot of us have waited too long or are on the verge of having waited too long as a result of savoring careers we couldn't have had without the women who came before us - and now these brave women are leading the way in IVF and alternative methods - while simultaneously sending the message to start a family just a little bit earlier to avoid stress and heartache.  All the way around it is a wonderful thing.  I love when women stick together vs. attacking one another.  The sisterhood amongst women can be an incredible thing. 

Whew!! Is anyone even left with me??
Finally, Lisa from Respect the Shoes (don't you just love that name?? - Lisa cracks me up daily and I'll bet she's cracking up several of you as well) tagged me on 8 random questions as follows:

1.  If you could be any heroine who would you pick and why?  Wonder Woman.  I love the bracelets that deflect the bullets. So B.A. 

2.  What is your favorite article of clothing and why?  Don't have one single item.  Pretty much anything James Perse because I live in the stuff since I work at home.  I do have a beautiful Rebecca Taylor silk dress that has a special place in my heart, too.

3.  What is one of the proudest moments of your life?  Getting my Green Card.  Hands down.

4.  Name your favorite food.  Chocolate.  And then bacon wrapped dates.  And then habanero salsa.  Seriously, this is a brutal question.  I'm not even sure chocolate's my favorite.  Now I'm thinking about a risotto the Chef makes.  And pavlova!! I gotta stop this question!!   Wingstop!  uh-oh.  It's on!

5.  Who is your favorite Real Housewife of the entire series?  I plead the 5th.

6.  What were you doing one hour ago?  Eating a drumstick (ice cream) and then a turkey taco.  It's dessert first around here.

7.  Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream?  No.  I can't.  It depends on the mood.  If it's Frozen Yogurt I'm still a Pinkberry fan all the way.  Ixnay on the kid hands in the toppings at Yogurtland (gag), but sometimes I just neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed World Class Chocolate from Baskin-Robbins or Banana with Heath Bar from Coldstone.  

8.  What's your favorite cheesy joke?  This is crazy, but I can't even think of one.  I've been sitting here for half an hour dreading this question.  Help!!  I'm not much of a joke person.  That was my little bro - I think he drove me too crazy with them. hehe

I'm wiped and have to go to bed.   Thanks for bearing with me!!  And take a visit to all three ladies who tagged me!  They're rad!  Rather than selecting a bunch of blogs to pass on to (because there are so many I read and love and I don't want to leave anyone out) - how about if you follow me and are interested in accepting any of these awards and answering the corresponding set of questions - just go ahead!  It's great to learn more about you and I love reading through these types of posts.


Monday, August 23, 2010

How To Not Get To Your Friends' Wedding On Time

Normally I would provide you with a summary of the things that occurred over the weekend.  In this case, however, it pretty much consisted of:

1. Slept
2. Assisted the Chef in consolidating 3 closets into 1.5
3. Attended friends' wedding reception

-with 1 and 2 taking up the bulk of the time.  Number 3?  Well, there's the story and it's a horror - really every girl's nightmare come to life, so get ready.

A few weeks ago two of my close friends had a destination wedding in Mexico that the Chef and I were unable to attend *insert sad face here*.  When Saturday rolled around we were really excited to attend the small reception they were having here in California for some of us who had missed their big day.  The gathering was in the late afternoon and it was a perfect, warm summer day.

I laid out a cute dress, a pair of my fancy heels, picked out the accessories and got ready.  Everything was set to go and we were even going to be on time (miracle).  I had my shoes and handbag by the door, and the Chef and I were getting the card and gift together when he said, "UH, don't step there!"  I glanced down and saw some grass on the hardwood floor - that's it, that's all I saw.  I looked away and, when I looked back, thought he had removed it so proceeded to step down....into a pool of clear cat vomit laced with grass.  This resulted in a yelp and a "UGH!! What was that?!?" as I hopped down the hallway on one foot as he hollered back to me, "Didn't you hear me say don't step down?  There's cat barf!  Did you step in it?!?"  By that time I had stepped into the tub - fully dressed, hair and makeup perfect, sans shoes and bag - to rinse off my foot.  I turned on the water and instead of it coming out of the tap, it shot out of the shower head - precisely as I looked up - shooting me in the face, on the hair, and all over my dress.  Destruction on the low seas.

As a result we were 2 hours late to my friends' reception.  We missed the pre-food visiting, the dinner, and the video of the wedding.  Isn't that special?  Not so much.  Note to self:  carefully check bathtub faucet settings the next time you step in cat barf on the way to a special event.

The injured party.
In short:  "traumatized".
I scrubbed my feet for 15 minutes.  I mean I did have to take a shower again anyway.
 Congrats Danny & Nicole!

Do you ever feel like every day/night is a full moon and every card in the deck is the Joker???  Oy

Hope you had a much smoother weekend filled with zero mishaps and/or yucky cat dealings.

Outfit details:  Loomstate for Barneys Dress, Miu Miu Heels, Melinda Maria Assorted Bangles

Friday, August 20, 2010

Potato Gnocchi with Kale

Last year I saw a picture of gnocchi in a magazine and memories of gluten-filled days flooded my mind.  Pasta, Betty Crocker cakes out of the box (my fave!), french bread, croutons, my mom's cookies, pizza dough and many other things came home to roost.  Granted I can now make several of these things on my own having adjusted well to gluten-free living, but the gnocchi is something I hadn't ventured to try so in came a special request to the Chef.

It took some experimentation with different flour blends, but cut to the present and this dish is now a regular of ours.  The kale on the side is an added bonus that makes it interesting and even more delicious.  We spared you the gluten-free version, but if anyone out there would like it please don't hesitate to send me an email or leave me a comment and I'll get the flour blend we use for this recipe right over to you.

Enjoy everyone! (p.s. - i'm swamped at work, but still reading your blogs even though i'm stretched too thin to comment properly.  hopefully it'll smooth out soon!)

Potato Gnocchi with Kale
1       potato
1       egg yolk
1/8C flour
1t      salt

3C    kale sliced 1/4 inch
3T    olive oil
3cl.   garlic slice thin
2t     red chili flakes
2T    water
salt and pepper to taste
squeeze lemon

Parmesan shaved for garnish.


Preheat oven to 450.
Poke potato and microwave for 5 minutes, finishing it in the oven for about 15 minutes more.
While potato is hot remove skin and mash until smooth and warm to touch (vs. hot).

Add egg yolk and salt, mix until completely cooled and smooth.

Add flour and bring together forming a ball - if dough is still sticky add flour until it doesn't stick to your hand.

Knead on table for 30sec until combined.  Careful not to overwork or your dumplings will be tough. To know it's right press gently with finger, it should spring back half way.

Cut in thirds and roll into tubes.

Cut on angle about 1/2 inch each.

Here are the next steps with accompanying pictures.  You will be rolling each one into a ball and rolling out on a fork. So begin by holding one with your middle finger and thumb, press it into the fork making an indention with your index finger and finish by rolling over with thumb.

 At the end you'll have a nice pile of these.

Drop into boiling water. Once they float, remove after about 30 seconds and place into ice water.

Once chilled place on paper towel to dry.  They can be stored in the fridge for three days or frozen. To finish saute in olive oil until crispy - about 1min per side.

For the kale begin by slicing it on the width in half inch strips; place in a bowl and set aside.  Slice the garlic and set aside.

Next - add oil to your pan and heat it up on the stove top to warm the oil, but not too hot.   Add chili flakes and garlic, cooking for approximately 2minutes on low to medium heat.

Add kale cooking until it wilts, stir occasionally.  Add water cooking until it evaporates.  Pull the pan from the stove seasoning the kale with lemon and salt and pepper.

We cook the gnocchi first, so at this point we toss it back into the pan with the kale, return it to the stove top to slightly warm, and then plate.

Garnish with shaved Parmesan and ta-da!!

Let me assure you that this was the pretty plate for the picture.  At times we do have fun eating little piles of food like this because it's nice to do fancy stuff for yourself at home.  When we make this particular dish, however, it's usually a portion 2 or 3 times this size - or repeated visits for refills because it's soooo good.  Please let us know if you try it and how it works out. 

If you read Annie's blog or Iva's blog they've given some great information on kale recently.  It has so many health benefits and is one of my favorite leafy greens.  You should totally check out their blogs for the down low.
Before I forget - If you are interested in learning more about pricing/options on the Dutzi handbags and totes, please leave me a comment or email so I can get information to you.  I have special (very reasonable) pricing available for a limited time for readers of my blog, and am happy to answer any questions you might have.  Thanks in advance to everyone who has inquired - I will be emailing information tomorrow and throughout the weekend.

And with that, I'm out.  I hope you have a great, relaxing, fun weekend.  Summer's winding down so quickly we have to soak in every last minute!  Happy Weekend Everyone!


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