Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moving Musings

Sorry y'all. I know moose & lulu has gone all one-track-minded around here. But such is my life right now!  

I figured out yesterday that our current townhouse is the longest I have ever lived anywhere (3 years) since leaving my parents' house for college. Post-college I hopped around about once a year, then the ex-fiancé and I moved twice, then when I came to my senses that ended- I moved to my current abode and have been here ever since.

Which leads me to the fact that as much of a beating as it is, people should really move every two years for the sole purpose of cleaning out all their crap.


I have found the weirdest stuff. 

Case in point, my circa 2004 Palm Pilot:
Can I just tell you... I thought I was The Shit when I got this thing. I bought my first laptop with my college graduation money and I think that Dell threw this in for free. I was 22, fresh out of college with my new ass-hugging BCBG suits* (because Banana Republic's seemed "so old ladyish") and my corporate radio sales job, and let me just tell you- I delighted in tapping away and scheduling all my ohsoimportant CNA's** on this sucker.

*I believe those BCBG suits were a size 2 and I doubt I could squeeze my left cheek into them now, let alone my entire rear. FML. 

**CNA = Client Needs Analysis for those of you that have never been lucky enough to have spent time in the Wonderful World of Sales.

However, I did find some fantastic surprises as well:
A $50 giftcard from the girls to a spa that just so happens to have a location right below our new apartment. I could probably chunk a rock from our balcony and hit it. I have to say, I'm quite delighted that this was lost and then found because it made my day that not only will I be able to indulge in some post-move pampering but I'll be able to walk right outside my door to do so. 

And finally, some harsh realizations:
My name is Natalie and I'm an Olive Oil Hoarder. 

This is bordering on ridiculous, no? In my defense, I do use them all. The Tuscan Herb is my favorite.

As should come as no surprise, the packing process for me is not of a tidy nature. Every area of our house currently looks as if it was ransacked. I got so tired of looking at the mess in my room that I moved my path of destruction to the kitchen. My roommate is a very patient person to say the least.

A week and a half to go!  I have no doubt there are more "treasures" to be found along the way!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Moose Monday

How is this comfortable?!?

Crazy dog.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Just Things

Moving is a beating. Plain and simple.

You know what is fun though? Picking up your belongings one-by-one as you carefully snuggle them into boxes and remembering the stories behind each one. It should be said that I'm one day into this packing business and "snuggling" will no doubt turn into "tossing shit into half-taped boxes with frenetic recklessness" in about 23 days.  Guess I should pack the stuff I love most first to ensure it arrives to its destination safely.

Speaking of my "prize" possessions, I realized as I was packing last night that some of my very favorite belongings are things that I didn't pay for or were ridiculously inexpensive. Love that.

My very favorite thing in my bedroom:

My friend Marcus sent me this book out of the blue when I was in college with a note that said "I saw this in a bookstore and immediately thought of you". It is an old French textbook from 1919. On the inside cover someone had written the Pledge of Allegiance in French and it has various scribbles throughout it. Including the name 'Betty' in the inside cover and references to 'Bob' in the margins of the book.

It makes me smile because I wonder where all this book has been in the last 92 years. I can't help but think that maybe Betty and Bob were learning french together in preparation for a romantic trip overseas. I wonder if they are still alive and together (or if they ever were a couple in the first place?)

And of course, it makes me think of Marcus. I met him on our trip to France when I was 15 and we've been friends ever since. He is one of the kindest souls I've ever met.
Marcus and me on the left with the rest of the crew.

My favorite thing in my living room:

This piano was my grandparent's and then my parents'. It's so old that it has ivory keys*. It doesn't really match any of my stuff, it's very traditional, and it's kind of an odd piece to have in an urban condo inhabited by (relatively) young people. All those things aside, I love it. My mom decided she wanted to get a baby grand instead and didn't have a place for it. My aunt, mom, dad, brother, and I have all practiced on it so there was absolutely no way I was going to let this piano leave my family.

It reminds me of my grandfather. It reminds me of my dad. It reminds me of all of our moves and our lives as nomads growing up (you don't know the meaning of moving until you've witnessed the intense amount of effort it takes three grown men to hoist a piano up a flight of stairs).

*Even though I'm one crazy hair shy of sending in my PETA card and would never ever buy ivory anything on my own... I view the fact that the piano is so old that the keys are made of ivory is sort of a nod to its age and history with my family. I do not support the maiming of elephants in any form or fashion.

My favorite thing(s) in my kitchen:

This is simple instead of sentimental, but I just love these. I think I bought them for $1.50 each at Target and I keep salt and pepper in them. I can't quite put my finger on why I adore them so much. Maybe it's that it makes me feel more "cheffy". Who knows, but considering the total cost of $3.00 puts a smile on my face every time I'm cooking, that's a pretty good deal.


As of yesterday, I think we may have also found a place to live! Assuming the roomie approves today when we go look at it, we will no longer be homeless and will be able to move in as planned in August! We're switching it up a little and moving back to Uptown where all the "young kids" live. It's an apartment but it's actually bigger than our current townhouse AND it's right on top of retail. Literally, you walk right downstairs and there are several restaurants, a Starbucks, a spa, a few bars, even a movie theater! So fun!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

                                                                   Source: onbluepoolroad.com via Pinterest on Pinterest

So July is shaping up to be quite the whirlwind!  We just found out last night that our little townhouse was sold and we have 30 days to be out. We had tentatively planned on moving out anyways, but this definitely set more concrete plans in motion.

The crazy part? Our "out date" is two days before the baby shower I am helping host at my parent's house.

When I host showers I usually turn my kitchen into a war zone the week before and then take all the party food over to my parents' house already made.  This keeps their house nice and clean for the festivities and allows me to "do my thing" in my own kitchen in my usual messy fashion. So, approaching this from a glass-half-full angle, I think it will teach me a valuable lesson on how to preplan a bit more and to attempt to keep things somewhat clean. Should be a nice little challenge to say the least!

In other news, our trip to Europe is starting to come together!  Our flights to Paris and home as well as my flight from London to Rome are booked, tentative train options have been oogled, we have a hotel in Nice booked, and we have found some great options for hotels in the rest of the cities.

On that note, just a little PSA: when you use the "Name Your Price" dealy on Priceline.com and a hotel accepts your bid, they charge your card for the entire stay IMMEDIATELY. Thank goodness I just paid myself yesterday!! Either way it is kind of nice to be able to pay for that chunk of the trip two months in advance- especially since it's the last leg. I know that I will feel like I'm hemorrhaging money by that point, so it will be great not to have to mess with that expense just in case my credit cards are maxed out on olive oil and pesto.

So that leaves us with:

29 days to Move Out!
31 days to Party Time!
46 days to Au Revoir!

Thank goodness I thrive on mass chaos!! Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sparkly Self Help

I am a firm believer in self-medicating. Before you come banging down my door to pry the prozac bottle out of my hands, let me explain:

I am a firm believer in knowing how to give yourself a pick-me-up when needed. Sure we all need our "rocks" to turn to when we're in a serious funk, but we should also learn how to take care of own emotional well-being to a certain extent.

So today kind of sucked.

*My sweet grandmother was admitted to the hospital.
*My mildly annoying sinus infection turned into an full-blown, oh-my-gah-stabbing-shooting pains ear infection in a matter of hours.
*My doctor basically told me I was too old to be prescribed amoxacillan to cure said ear infection (call me a weirdo if you like, but I always have and always will LOVE that pink bubble gummy deliciousness and it is the ONLY redeeming quality of ear infections in my book).

So as I was perusing the aisles of Walgreens waiting for my NON-amoxacillan prescription to be filled, I saw something that caught my eye:

Sometimes a girl just needs a little sparkle in her life.

And sometimes it truly is the little things that make you feel better- pretty, girly nails despite the rest of me being a mess. I can't decide if the sparkles are a tad hookerish, juvenile, or just plain brilliant, but regardless they are making the intense stabbing in my right ear a little less noticeable this evening.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Making me Giggle this Morning...

In other news, I am officially obsessed with Pinterest. I have all these crazy folders in my email and on my computer where I save silly stuff- recipes, pretty things, sayings, party ideas, inspirational photos, etc. However, I either forget where I saved them or never seem to go back and look at any of them (recipes aside). Pinterest is a place to keep all your Internet odds and ends that catch your eye as your browsing about. And you create your own categories.

Anyways, try it out!  You'll love it.

And, feel free to follow me here to see all the fun things that catch my eye.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Boobie Trap PSA

Let's say hypothetically one were to have hair of length that extended to the middle of one's back. And say since the arrival of summer one was prone to get a touch warm while getting ready to go out on the town with her girlfriends.

One should never. Let me repeat: NEVER straighten one's hair with a professional grade flat iron that reaches upwards of a bazillion degrees while topless.

Take it from me, hypothetically:

This is not a good idea.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Foodie Friday - Ad Hoc Short Rib Stroganoff

I must have short ribs on the brain. When I posted that picture of my other favorite short rib recipe last month, I realized that I had teased you guys about this dish, but never gave you the recipe. Well, better late than never because this one is also ah-mazing. I even forgot a step (the créme fraîche) and it was still rich, flavorful, plate-licking goodness.

Be advised- it is a two day process. And it is definitely a dish that requires you to pay attention to the details, but I still managed to throw it all together (slight aforementioned misstep aside) with a glass of wine in-hand and three girls distracting me. I typically stick to the tried-and-true or recipes that look fairly easy when I know I'm going to be cooking and chatting at the same time, so I'm not sure what I was thinking when I decided to tackle this one but it really wasn't too bad.

Ad Hoc Slow Cooked Short Rib Stroganoff

For the Sauce:
1 pound cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup chopped onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups heavy cream
1 sachet of 1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs, 10 peppercorns
1/3 cup créme fraîche

For the Mushrooms:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil (I think I used olive... such a rebel, I know!)
1 pound cremini mushrooms sliced 1/4 inch thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Putting it All Together:
Braised beef short ribs, chilled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
Coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
Gray salt or coarse sea salt

  1. First, braise your short ribs the day before.  Here is a good recipe. Refrigerate over night. Or if you are like me and forget to do it the night before, you can stick them in a crock-pot that morning and come home to slow cooked short ribs just in time to start cooking the rest of it. 
    1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
    2. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
    3. Pour in the cream, add the herb-y sachet and bring to a boil. 
    4. Reduce to a medium-low and simmer until the cream is reduced by about one-third, about 35 minutes.
    5. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan over medium-heat and add the butter and oil. 
    6. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown without stirring for about 3 minutes. Flip and brown, about 1-2 minutes.
    7. When the cream has thickened, discard the sachet, and strain the mushroom bits out*. 
    8. Heat the sauce on medium low heat, stir in the créme fraîche and add 3/4 of the sautéed mushrooms. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat. It will be very thick.
    9. Bring a giant pot of salted water to boil.
    10. Heat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the chilled short ribs into 2-inch cubes and brown in an oven safe pan, presentation-side down for about 2 minutes, flip and then transfer to the oven and heat for about 10 minutes.
    11. Cook the pappardelle according to package directions, reserve a cup of the cooking water and drain. Toss the pasta with butter and sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, add some cooking water to thin.
    12. Arrange pasta on a platter and top with the remaining 1/4 sauteed mushrooms, browned short ribs, flat leaf parsley and salt.
    *The only change I made to this is that I didn't have one of these fancy "sachet" things. I know, my kitchen is stocked with an escargot dish but not a sachet. SO, while this may not be advised, I just threw the thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns right in the pot. I picked out the thyme and bay leaf. And then instead of straining out the mushrooms, I immersion blended the whole thing (peppercorns included) at the end. 

    Voila!  Make this tonight! Or tomorrow since you have to braise the short ribs and what-not. Or maybe in the fall since it's not exactly bikini friendly. But whatever you do, at least save this recipe to make sometime

    You won't be disappointed, pinky swear.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    May in Pictures

     We celebrated E's 29th birthday with dinner at Neighborhood Services and then a little bar hoppin. 

    It was hard to top the sombrero cake from last year, but this one turned out pretty delicious. I baked a butter cake and topped it with nutella frosting that I made up as I went along. The birthday girl said, and I quote, that I "should never frost another cake with anything but this." I agree, but I would probably eat a tire if it had nutella slathered on it so I don't know that I'm the best judge. 

     Super easy way to gussy up a vanilla cake- lots of food coloring on the first layer, a little bit in the second, and none (or a tiny bit, if you prefer) in the third. 

    Nothing like working off the cake with a little dancin'.

    I think I have sung the praises of this short rib recipe before, but this has become one of my go-to's. I made them for my parents for a delayed Easter dinner.

     When I killed my macbook, Bossdad got a bit nervous that I didn't have a back-up for my older work laptop that was barely chugging along. Fear of me being out of working order for a few days led him to suggest that I do a bit of shopping. New computers might only be second to new cars in my book. What is it about turning on that clean slate that is just so fun??

    Mark and I went to a Kentucky Derby party so I had to go hat shopping. I would wear this baby every day if I could- I loved it!

    My parents went to Napa in May. In other news, I am setting up a cot at their house for the next month.

    Sweet chunky boy.

    First arboretum trip of the season! I can't wait for the Spazmatics June 28th!

    They are becoming pros at the art of the arboretum picnic.

    Sunset at Love Field. Those stormy skies were beautiful even if I was cursing them aloud while waiting for my flight to North Carolina to board. 

    North Carolina Dean & Deluca fabulousness. With Trader Joe's on its way, all we need now is a D&D and I would be one very happy girl. Although, not having it does make it that much more fun when you run across one...

    I passed this car in North Carolina and had to take a picture. We've all seen the stick figure family decals. My personal favorite version seen here on Wylie's car. But this was a stick figure family with what looks like two cats on the left side and seven(!!!) on the right. Yes, I am a dog person, but I am still a lover of all animals. However, NINE CATS?!?  FAR TOO MANY!!!

    Tornado watch. See that area in the red with all the lightning bolts? Yep, that's where I live. Fun times.

    I think with all the devastation over the last month we're all a bit panicky when it comes to tornados. That's why when Pete Delkus suggested I get in the closet... Alex and I got our asses in the closet. 

    With moose. 

    And wine. 

    And apparently sombreros.

    The month ended with these two getting engaged! Congrats Adam & Meredith! I've known Adam over a decade so it has been fun to see them fall in love.

    Hope everyone has a good start to the summer- can you believe it's already June?!