Love ...or obsession with self?

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-William Shakespeare

A new wedding-themed reality show has hit the airways folks. In many ways, however, it has nothing really to do with weddings...or even love for that matter. I'm not that big into reality shows, myself, but I find the premise of this one disturbing. Women compete for the chance to have plastic surgery and a big humdinger of a wedding. The sad part is, these are all beautiful women, willing to submit to major body changes for a chance at a overblown wedding.

Aren't we as women told enough that we have to measure up to an unrealistic standard, without telling a group of beautiful women on national television that they need surgical assistance to prep for a day when they should feel totally accepted by the love of their lives exactly as who they really are? Weddings should be about two people who love each other and celebrating with family and friends, not about trying to reach some ideal by your wedding date.

What do you think?

Curious about what I'm talking about ?click here

World's Smallest Car

I came across this online today. Apparently, It is the world's smallest car that you need a license to drive and it resides in Germany.

Can you imagine how easy it would be to find a parking spot in this baby?

Fast and Easy Caramel Rolls

When I was a kid, my mom would make caramel rolls. Cinnamon rolls with a thick gooey crust that was absolutely delicious. However, they would have to raise overnight to be ready for the morning.These, on the other hand, are quick, easy and allow me to get my fix without baking all night. The secret is to use a tube of big and fluffy refrigerated biscuit dough..

First, you roll out your biscuit dough until it is one square or rectangle. Spread out room temperature butter on the dough making sure its evenly coated. Sprinkle handfuls of brown sugar evenly across the dough, then evenly sprinkle out cinnamon. Roll up the dough starting from the longest side and  roll across until you have one big tube of goodness. Slice up the dough into rounds divided by the amount of biscuits that were in the can. In a greased round cake pan randomly place squares of butter followed by a generous sprinkling of brown sugar. Place your roll rounds on top of the deliciousness and stick into a preheated oven at 350*F for about 15 - 20 minutes. The rolls are done when the tops are nicely brown. Let cool for a few minutes. Then, place a plate on the top of pan and flip. If they don't pop right out, it means the pan didn't get enough spray and you'll have to use your own ingenuity to get them out. Enjoy warm, topped with a bit of butter.

I have an etsy shop now!

After being told for months by various friends of mine that I am an "etsy shop waiting to happen", I now have a shop. I'm pretty excited. Right now the only things that are on there are cuff links that I made after wedding crafting cufflinks for the men involved in the wedding. They turned out pretty amazing and I promise I'm going to put a tutorial on how to make the cuff links on here later.

Feel free to check it out...

Sweet Boutineers with Paper flowers and Peacock Feathers

This weekend I spent part of my time working on crafting for the wedding. Remember those paper flowers a while back? Well, I took some of those, trimmed them so they were a bit smaller and added some feathers and such. It was such quick going, that in the course of an afternoon, I had made boutineers for all the Groomzombies and family members.

First, I trimmed the stem on the flower so that it was the desired length.Then, on the back of the stem I put a dot of glue from a hot glue gun. I attached the peacock feather to this dot.

I added another dot on the stem to the side of the peacock feather. (I decided where to put the feathers depending on how they curved). I attached a small ostrich feather or rooster feather to the other dot of glue.

After the glue has cooled, put an small vertical line of hot glue on the stem near the bottom and attach the end of a 1" ribbon.

Wrap around once and fold down.

Fold up again, capturing the feather and stem ends.

 Fold another 45*.

Wrap around the stems all the way up to the base of your flower.

Fold over the end of the ribbon and secure with hot glue. Glue a broach or broken earring with the back removed to the front to add texture, interest and a bit of sparkle.

Final Product

PS- sorry the photos are so awful...I had to take them with my phone and the quality isn't the best...

Car Dancin' is For the Cool Kids

Have you ever turned on the radio in your car, and even though you may have heard a song many times before, it hits you how truly amazing the song is? Well, yesterday the song below came on as I was driving home from work, and some serious car dancing commenced. When I say serious, I mean that the people in the Honda CR-V next to me were laughing and pointing...

Awesome song to jam out to, right? And the video for it just makes me want to go put on a flowing dress and dance around my apartment...

Bedecked with Baubles

Just sharing a few little sweet (and a few totally rockin') recent discoveries...

I mean, can you beat these totally awesome sugar skull wedding rings???

Golden Key to the Flight of Dreams Artful Hardware Pendant
Skeleton Key AND winner! And it gets bonus points for its awesome steampunkish cogs!

These are so sweet and romantic...they make me want to don a lacey frock...

Diana in  Coral Pink
I Love You in many Languages Brass Ox
Maud a Victorian Mermaid

Warm beverage? Check! For every finger? Check!

Large Brass Scarab Beetle
This scarab totally rocks! Can I put it on my Christmas list...please...?

Jane Austen Fan Club

There is a common trend popping up among modern fiction writers; fan fiction. Now, I'm not talking necessarily about the massive amount of fan fiction that hangs about on Harry Potter. I am talking of the fan fiction that surrounds Jane Austen's tales. I did not realize how much Jane Austen was inspiring authors until I took a turn around my local chain bookstore and realized how much there was. Fan fiction written about a classic author, perish the thought!

Fan fiction abounds; there are tales of Elizabeth Bennet kicking zombie butt, multiple continuations of the Elizabeth and Darcy tales, murder mysteries that feature  her characters, novels about characters reading and obsessing over her books, characters switching places with Jane Austen characters and going back in time to relive the lives of the Jane Austen world. That isn't even the full sum of it.

I am an admitted fan of classic literature. I have, in actuality, read all of Ms. Austen's works and have them on the shelf. For the most part, however, I am disappointed in the fiction based off her books, and I read everything. If there is any fabulous fan fiction that I have not read, I would love to stand corrected.

Oh the joys of the 'Find of the Day'!

I have been, and probably always will be, an avid reader. Today I totally geeked out when I happened to come across these lovelies at Anthropology. Some of my favorite books as a child in all their printed clothbound glory!

Ok...happiness has commenced...

Dresses to swoon over...

Lately, I've fallen in love with the silhouettes of the Fifties. And there is nothing better than a reproduction dress, as it is very difficult to find a vintage dress that will fit the modern woman without too much alteration. Below are some super cute reproduction dresses that were discovered on etsy (the links to the seller's shops are posted below the dresses).

Red and Gold Imperial Bustier Dress - Made by Dig For Victory
Premium Polka Dot 1950s PIN UP ROCKABILLY SWING DRESS Plus Size L XL (18 20 22)
Red Hot Swing Dress   XXS-3X
Racey Red Spot Tie Pin Up  Bombshell 50s Rockabilly Dress

1950s Vintage Style Rockabilly Dress with attached TULLE Underskirt / Petticoat. RETRO / SWING / POLKA DOTS

Yeah, I know, I know...I'm kind of obsessed with etsy. Other great online resources for vintage inspired reproductions to check out include Modcloth and Whirlingturban.

Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup

Are you a vegetarian who envies people who get to devour Chicken Noodle soup when they are ill, or do you simply just need some comfort food? Well here, my friends, is an answer to that issue.

Thick & Hearty Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup

2 Vegetarian Bouillon cubes (could also use the "Not Chicken Broth")
2 Potatoes, cubed
4 carrots, sliced thinly
1 onion, chopped
1bag of Quorn "chicken" cubes
2 cups Rotini Noodles ( I used Whole Wheat, or you could substitute egg noodles)
6 cups of water ( may need more depending on how "soupy" you want it)

Essentially, you add it all in a large stock pot and cook until the potatoes and carrots are tender. This is a veeerrry hearty soup, so you may want to dice your veggies into tiny pieces if you want a finer soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Colored Engagement Bling

Below are some celebrity engagement rings that are non-traditional (ie not white diamonds) Why does this excite me and why does that matter? Well, my very own engagement ring is a natural starlight ruby ( it's a pinkish stone depending on the light) and part of an antique wedding set. I caught just a little bit of flack for not sporting a big 'ole white diamond, but apparently I am on trend.

Celeb engagement rings...can you guess whose is whose?

My ring..ignore the fact that my hands are swollen today..haha!

Needless to say I feel a tiny bit vindicated. Now, if only it became super popular for celebs to sashay down the aisle in boldly colored wedding dresses...

Time to tango...

Sunday night was a rainy, blustery evening, but this did not deter a fun evening of sensual dance. We entered the Daza Dance studio for a monthly tango meetup for the the first time. I was a little nervous, since I had no idea what a beginner's Argentinean tango class had in store for me that evening.
If you have ever tangoed, Argentinean style, you know exactly what I am talking about. This relaxed form of social dancing is less about getting the steps correct, and more about interacting with your partner. According to our beginner's class teacher, this tango style is essentially "fancy walking". And let me tell you, this "fancy walking" was incredibly fun. The class was a great introduction for those who had never danced before, and there were a few. There were also several very experienced dancers who were kind enough to help the newcomers out. However, one of the best parts of the class, was when we got to see how beautiful the "fancy walking" became when danced by those who passionately enjoyed it.

This experience is offered the second Sunday of every month, and I'm definitely going again. In fact, I may join a class that meets weekly and make my "fancy walking" look pretty spectacular indeed.

Oh...the Treasures Found

The second weekend of every month treasure seekers traverse the highways to arrive at the Atlanta Expo Center for the Scott Antique market. It is a treasure trove of interesting people, amazing finds and really great food. This weekend, I was among the masses, and here are some of the more interesting discoveries of the day....

A very scary mask...and yes folks that is real fur.
A painted wooden cutout of clowns in a car....
...that had a painted back
Yes, that is a plaster lobster in a lobster trap. I'm not sure what it is doing to Miss Piggy, but I kind of don't want to know
I'm not sure what was with these mushrooms, but they kept popping up EVERYWHERE!

And then there were the Chairs...
The Extra Large one would be comfortable for a giant...
...and the extra small one, too tiny for a child

Do you have an urgent need for a signage for your insane asylum? Well, there were plenty...

And that was just a small taste of the joys of the antique market this weekend. What treasures did I actually bring home? you ask. Well, about 10 lbs of junk jewelry (broken earrings and broaches) for crafty purposes I will share with you later ....

Dinner Parties are Rockin'!

Yesterday evening a rousing young group gathered at the 'ole homestead for a night of food and fun. We had a blast and the food was absolutely delicious. Since everything turned out so amazing, I thought I would share the recipes to what was served. The salad and pot pie recipes originated from the November 2010 Bon Appetit , but I put sort of my own spin on them.

Delightful Apple Pear Salad

1 bag of mixed greens
1 bag of Waldorf salad mix without the dressing
2 apples, sliced
2 Bosc pears, sliced
Blue Cheese

For the Dressing:
1 shallot, diced
4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Toss salad ingredients together with dressing in a large bowl.
Serves 5

Mushroom Lentil Pot Pies with Gouda Biscuit Topping

1/2 cup lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
7 ounces fresh mushrooms ( mix of wild and baby bella), sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 Tablespoons Semolina flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons chilled unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup Almond milk
3/4 cup grated Gouda cheese ( about 3 oz)

Pour 3 cups of water into a large pan, add lentils and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or so or until the lentils are cooked. Drain, conserving about 2 cups or so of the lentil water, and set both aside for later.
Heat 1 Tablespoons of the oil in a large pan on medium- high. Add mushrooms and let sizzle for about 3 minutes. Add your other Tablespoon of oil, chopped onion, carrot and herbs. Cook for about 4 minutes. Add  your minced garlic, wait 30 seconds and lower the heat. Toss in the flour and cook for another minute. Mix in the rest of your filling ingredients and the lentil water (but don't put in the lentils quite yet). Cover up that deliciousness and cook until the potatoes are fork ready (15 minutes). Make sure you stir enough that nothing gets stuck to the bottom of the pan. Feel free to add a bit of water if the mix looks too dry. Mix in the lentils and divide between 4 large ramekins. Feel free to do this ahead up to two days ahead of time.
Get your oven preheated at 400* F. In a food processor bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse until you get a coarse texture. Add your milk and pulse until a dough ball forms. On a lightly floured surface turn out the dough and hand mix in the cheese. Divide into four even pieces and form into flat disks. set these on top of your filled dishes and place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the biscuit portion comes out clean.
Serves 4 ( I doubled the recipe so I could have leftovers..yum!)

Baked Apples

3 Apples ( cut in half horizontally  and scoop out the core - should form a stable cup)
6 pats of Butter ( use a good Irish butter for best results)
Dark Brown sugar
Ground Cloves

Preheat your oven to 400*F. In a round cake pan set your six apples, evenly spaced. Place a pat of butter on each apple and top with a mound of dark brown sugar. Lightly sprinkle ground cloves over your apples. Generously top with cinnamon. Bake for 45 minutes or until a delicious sugar crust forms on the apples and they are fork tender. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream.
Makes 6 apples

I started out the night with crackers, good cheeses and grapes and served some yummy wine with these.

Thursday Nights at Fontaine's

Finding a restaurant with a food special is always fantastic, especially when the food is actually good. The Thursday night happy hour special (between 4 - 7pm) at Fontaine's in the Virginia Highlands allows you to catch discounts on oysters from the raw bar, peel and eat shrimp and crab legs.  Like many restaurants in the Va-Hi neighborhood there is no parking lot attached and parking is street or lot where you can find it. Since parking is always crazy in this neighborhood, even on a Thursday, it would be smart to be parked by 6:30pm (at the latest) to beat the full dinner rush.

The decor is fun and quirky and the staff are friendly with a sense of humor. We were placed in a small side room just left of the door that was dominated by a large Chihuly-like light fixture in the ceiling.

Now to the food. The seafood on special was very fresh; in fact, there was much consumption of it at our table. You'll want to wear a shirt you don't care much about, or tuck a napkin into your top because you'll want dig in and make a mess of yourself with these crab legs. Other seafood was also exemplary. The seafood po'boy with fried scallops was devoured quickly, as was the lobster bisque soup. The calamari was granted a thumbs up, but was set aside in favor of the next course.

Those who are not particularly fond of seafood or are vegetarian, and are dining with a group take note: they offer extensive non- seafood options. The spinach - artichoke dip was rather good; you'll almost want to make a meal of the baked dip with its crusted gooey melted goodness with contrasted ricotta cheese, spinach and artichokes served with the usual crispy tortilla chips. It was really good, but not much different than the usual spinach artichoke dip, other than the addition of ricotta cheese.

They offer a vegetable plate with a large number of interchangeable options including: two types of beans and rice, fresh veggies and fried goods (ps - the hush puppies are amazing and they serve them with honey!). For those of the salad persuasion, they also offer a really good house salad that is chock full of mandarin oranges and pecans. For those from the New York state area, apparently their poppyseed dressing is the same type that transplants have trouble finding.

One thing disappointing, however, was the key lime pie. If you love a very tangy, sour key lime pie, you are in luck, but be forewarned; I mean very sour.

Overall, this place is pretty great for a Thursday night happy hour, or even for dinner any day of the week.

PS-As a vegetarian all non-vegetarian reviews were given by the food-lovers with great taste in my party; I give no guarantees for the sentiments expressed on seafood.

Brown Soda Bread

I think it may be a general agreement that almost absolutely everyone loves freshly baked bread. Most of us don't have hours to wait while it rises twice and then bake it. The solution of course... is soda bread. Totally delish and super quick. And if someone has a yeast allergy...all the bread you can eat...

I found this recipe on the 'net and switched it around a bit. Oh, and if you want a vegan loaf; I tried this with almond milk instead, and it is just as good.

Brown Soda Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teas. baking soda
3/4 t salt
2 1/4 cup milk ( you may need less depending on humidity, etc)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.Sift together everything except for your milk into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and slowly stir in the milk, 1/4 cup at a time until it forms a ball. Knead for a few minutes to make sure all your flour is incorporated and to get the gluten going. You want bigger air pockets a la french bread? knead some more. Divide the bread in half and form into loaves. Put into two separate greased loaf pans. Pop 'em into the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. When it's brown and crusty and makes a hallow sound when you thump the bottom, you are in business. Let cool for 10 minutes or so before discharging them from their pan.

Smother with butter or your substitute of choice. Yum.

Interesting find of the day!

Ever wonder what to do with the labels from your apples? Well here is the perfect solution. Today, folks we have for you a way to keep track of the apples you are eating.
Yep, a board just for apple labels. I was rather amazed myself.

I'm sure the seller wouldn't care if you used it for other fruit as well.

Eat your heart out...or apple...

Early Morning at the Park

This morning I finally got out of my warm soft nest of a bed to go for an early run in the park. At half past six in the morning today you could find me trotting the trails at Piedmont Park. Was it chilly? yes. Was it kinda dark? yes. Was it deserted? hardly.

Yes, my friend, before seven in the morning the park is packed with various bootcamp groups. Out of the fog, disembodied voices yell and chant and scream. Bootcamp is one of those extremely popular fitness crazes that involve calisthenics and sprints at crazy early hours while a former drill sergeant, football player or coach (depending on your bootcamp preference) yells themself hoarse. It definately made my run feel like fun times.

And speaking of running; nothing beats running around a lake or grassy knoll, listening to your favorite tunes while watching the sun rise and the fog disperse. I just may do a morning run more often.

Adventures in Groceries

There is nothing like grocery shopping; cruising down the aisles, marking things off a list. Best of all is the people watching involved. Since there is no store loyalty that beats within me, I shop everywhere. I tread down aisles at Whole Foods searching for obscure ingredients for recipes with the dreadlocked, tattooed and pierced as well as the well-heeled soccer moms. I scout inexpensive cheeses at Trader Joes with hip urbanites searching for a quick meal. And then I scout out the local wildlife at Kroger.

Now, my local Kroger is the largest and closest grocery store to me. Open 24 hours, you run the gamut in variety of people, especially at a Kroger referred to as "disco Kroger". Now, part of my job description includes running errands, to Kroger included, and so I've been able to observe people in the daytime, as well as late night food runs. Late night, you mostly get the drunken folks getting a bit of this or that to help stave off a hangover. But every once in a while, you get the guy on the vespa. Now vespa guy rides a bright pink vespa with matching helmet (of course) and is usually spotted wearinng gold lame hot pants and a matching halter.However, in midtown, you almost expect people to dress interestingly, so it almost becomes ordinary. Today, I must say, I observed something just a tad out of the ordinary. A nun buying lottery tickets...

A Destination in My Mind

I am one of those strange people who actually enjoy the airport run. Odd as it may sound, as I approach, I actually imagine that I am the one taking a trip and jetting off to faraway places.  I watch the planes scream above me and I feel a little bit of that excitement and anticipation that I , yes I, will be GOING SOMEWHERE. Then, I quickly jolt back into reality and realize that it was only in my imagination and, alas, I was merely the driver this time again, as my situation in life (superbly broke) does not allow for impromptu flights to far off places and exciting destinations.

So, I reconcile myself to the fact that any trip I take right now will only be in my mind and try to be content with watching the Travel Channel yet again.

Yummy delicious soup

Yesterday I was in a quandry...what to eat/ make to eat. Then I remembered that I had an amazing recipe for Kimchi soup that had been brought to my potluck engagement party months ago. Thanks to Shanna, I whipped up this delicious concoction.

14oz Jar of Kimchi (I used the spicy kind - use what you can find)
1 lb package of tofu

Put a large pot on your stove with the heat on Medium. Dump in the jar of Kimchi and add 3 jars full of water to the pot. Take the tofu out of the package and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the tofu into chunks and add to your pot. Simmer for about an hour so on low heat.

Eat this deliciousness with a pile of rice or noodles....yum!

Romantic Paper Flowers

Well, today I've been working on some crafting for my upcoming nuptials. Yeah, i know, wedding crafts. But these flowers turned out pretty awesome, so I thought I would share.
First you find yourself a book you don't mind pulling apart. Mine, I got for 10 cents from Atlanta Books.
Next, tear out the pages you want to use

If you are using a newish book, tea dyeing the pages will make them look old. Here's how...
Get a pan or dish with some depth and black tea bags. I used a glass loaf pan.

Pour boiling water over the tea bag into the dish and steep the tea bag until it's very dark and strong.

Place the pages into the tea and let them soak until they are as dark as you would like them to look. When they have reached their desired levels, take out of the tea and let air dry on some paper towels. This is what they will look like when dry.

Once they are fully dry, cut off the corners and any roughly torn edges so you have a large oval shape.

Next, fold in half, then fold over another quarter to half inch or so. Secure under the fold with a bit of rubber cement or glue in the center.

Now, fold lengthwise then fold over another eighth to quarter inch and secure in the center with a bit of rubber cement or glue.

Open and flatten slightly. This is what it should look like...

Make a fan-like  fold in each corner. This should make the flower have an almost cup-like appearance.

Take a shanked button or large bead and a needle and thread and stitch your center in place with three or four small stitches and knot. Alternatively, you could also hot glue this into place or secure with jewelry wire.

Next, curl under the edges of the flower by rolling up the long sides first.

Flip over your flower and either rubber cement or hot glue a floral wire stem that is bent slightly into place. These are easily found in the floral department of craft stores.

After the glue is dry and/or cool. Use floral tape (also found in the floral department in craft stores, it usually comes in either green or white) to wrap the base of the flower and the top part of the stem to secure and give it a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Now, the only thing left to do is adjust the curl of your edges and make a ton of them! Another option is to singe the edges of the flowers to give it a worn in appearance. I haven't decided if I want to treat the flowers this way or not. If I do, I'll post the how-to and results later.