Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome, September


Good morning.
Can you believe that yet another month has ended and started already? We are in month number nine, and I cannot believe how fast time has been flying. It is officially fall!!! Yes. To me at least. You may want to wait three more weeks, but to me, September 1st marks the first day of fall season. These next three months will be fantastic. I can decorate the apartment with warm colors, pumpkins, candles, and what not. Halloween will be scary funny, and then I can pack it all away and put up Christmas stuff. In no time we will celebrate a new year again. Insane!!

Yet, let's start with this month. I will not work on a fall list but tell you a few things I am looking forward to. Whether or not I will fully enjoy these items/moments/places is then totally up to me. Hopefully I can accomplish more during fall than summer because frankly I failed my summer list.

Things I look forward to:

- pumpkin spice lattes {the best thing during fall and they came out early which is a major plus}
- pumpkins in all sizes
- pumpkin patches {so want to go to one again, and pick a few cuties out}
- spiced hot apple ciders {oh yes}
- Halloween decorations 
- no more flip flops/sandals but actual closed shoes {fingers crossed this happens here in Sac}
- wearing my scarves
- cooler temperatures
- Christmas time approaching faster

I'm not particularly looking forward to potential rainstorms but if they happen I will just enjoy them. Note to myself: by a new umbrella. 

But right now, I am enjoying a Mrs! Wow!

Happy September!!
image via here

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of My Summer List

Fall is basically around the corner {this Monday!! September 1 is when it starts for me - I know, so unofficial} and so I decided that it is time to look back at this terribly hot summer.   

A while back I made a summer list, and today I am closing it to see what I have accomplished. Over time I went back to the list to see what I needed to do or should do to make summer 2014 fun, colorful, and especially eventful. I wanted this summer to be a great one especially since it marked a new part of my life.  Easier said or written than done. 

Here's my list, and what I was able to accomplish between July 1 and today August 31:

  • Explore more of Sacramento and surroundings {7.16.14}
  • Visit Orange County {going early August - 8.18.14}
  • Travel to and explore the Reno area {completed, yet will be going back a few times}
  • Visit San Francisco {7.21.14}
  • Visit Monterey  
  • Go to one or two wineries {did so, on 8.29.14}
  • Make strawberry mojitos 
  • Make sangrias
  • Make popsicles
  • Bake a gluten free apple pie, and maybe a plum pie
  • Go to the Farmer's Market hopefully twice a month {went to a daily market, does that count?}
  • Go to the beach because we miss it so terribly much
  • Watch a movie at an outdoor movie theater – preferably a drive-in theater
  • Go hiking
  • Read at least four books {I managed to read three, so I kinda fulfilled this, no?}
  • Catch up on my favorite shows (Criminal Minds included)
  • Decorate the apartment with artwork so it looks welcoming and less boring
  • Turn off my phone for at least two hours each day starting July 1 for two months (yes, each day) - {each day was hard; so it took a while to get used to this...let's just say I tried and I halfway succeeded}
  • Find a job (not a summer goal but it must happen this summer) - {volunteer work found, unpaid, but it was at least a distraction}
Do you make lists, or am I the only crazy one?

My summer started promising, and then it got a little hectic. I wanted to do so much and ended up crossing almost nothing off of my list. I will try to make sangria, and then the recipe will be up soon. We are still planning on going to an outdoor movie theater. We waited until temperatures dropped. It wasn't comfortable or romantic to watch a movie with temps in the high 80s at night. Cooler temps are more fun!! Also, the apple pie recipe should be up soon. So much has happened in the past few weeks, heck days, and so much is going to happen in the next few weeks so bear with me and my recipes, my recaps, and especially with details to what actually happened on Friday - my big day! WOW.

I am definitely ready for fall!! Hope you are too. :)

xoxo

Friday, August 29, 2014

Surprise!


Today I married my best friend.
We are extremely blessed to have found each other, and excited to spend the rest of our lives together.

Oh my gosh, I cannot believe we said our I Do's in such a short time. I never thought I would be a bride in 2014 but here I am - a wife. My favorite person {B} is no longer my fiance. He is my husband. I am so thrilled to be his wife, and to have him and his family in my life. It is so crazy writing this, and yet it is not crazy at all. 

We are happy, we are in love, and we are so glad we did this!

xoxo


image via wed with style

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Gluten Free Life {in Sacramento}


I have been living gluten free for over one year. I have had my ups and downs. I struggled, felt lonely, crazy, and even felt like I was the worst and most complicated friend or person ever. I mean, when invited to a dinner party, or going to a restaurant or even date I would take forever to order {unless they had a gluten free menu, or offered gf options}. Over time I learned which restaurants to choose, which dressings were good, what to look for when reading labels, what to avoid altogether, what to bring with me, and how to substitute certain ingredients when cooking my own meals.


Not everything labeled gluten free is bad. Just because it says gluten free on the box or jar doesn't mean that it is the only option. I have learned that regular jars or boxes not saying gluten free sometimes still do not contain any wheat, barley, malt, or rye; they were still okay and mostly cheaper. All-Purpose gluten free flour costs around 10 bucks. 10!!!! TEN!!! Holy mother of flour. I don't bake that often, and when I do {especially since living with this diet} I use already prepared mixes. This saves me money, time, and trouble. I did find a smaller and cheaper bag of gf flour and it's been helping me bake and cook if needed.

When I started this life {or was forced to live it}, a fellow blogger asked me to share gluten free recipes. Thing is I don't cook differently. Fruits, veggies, fish, fresh meat, and rice are already gluten free. No need to substitute anything. I can marinate my own meat or fish. I can buy sauces, dressings, dips that do not contain gluten OR I just make my own.

I swapped my favorite chips to a brand that is gluten free. I have not gone back, except once. I tried one BBQ chip from my former favorite chips brand, and then ate a gluten free one and oh boy was I astonished. My new found love for this gf brand {kettle chips if you must know} was worth the extra penny or drive. So much more flavor!!! My favorite person agrees with me, and won't even buy anything else if I crave my backyard barbecue chips. At least I don't have to go crazy not ever eating chips again, or cupcakes {I found a great bakery in Reno with the best coffee cakes, THE best}.


Living in Southern California I had practically no issues finding restaurants, or gf items in stores. I learned to call ahead or look online first so I knew if a restaurant offered gluten free choices/menus. Sometimes I would forget and then had to find courage to ask if they had gluten free pasta or options. Eating out has always been a challenge but it has gotten easier and better over time. If you have allergies you know it is not easy to go to restaurants. I am a foodie. I love food. Knowing I can't eat everything makes my heart ache.

Living in Sacramento is a whole different story. I had to start all over again. I had to find a gluten free bakery, restaurants and stores that may offer gf options and won't kill my small budget. Let me tell you, it's not that easy. I found a few spots and I am slowly adjusting. Also, I don't want to go to a grocery store that is solely focusing on gluten free items because we all know those stores charge more. I basically have to go to five different places in order to get all my grocery shopping done. Fantastic. At least I get food that won't kill me, and at least I have Ryan Gosling making sure I am okay and gluten stays away from me.


Seriously, I have been doing fine, doing much better than a year ago. I still have my moments. This is normal. I learned to live with it. People in my life know that I have a food allergy and they go out of their ways to get me a gluten free corner in their pantry. They are considerate and make sure I can enjoy food while eating out. Personally, I feel better and stronger. I am still rolling my eyes when I see only fried food or regular pizza dough offered. Sacramento needs to get its healthy stuff going, and that fast! Ha! Joke aside, I'll be exploring more. But now, let me go out and buy some grocery items...it may take me up to three hours. My life!

images via 1 | 2 |

Monday, August 25, 2014

Raspberry Monday


It has been a tough weekend. Not only did my favorite person get sick {who knows why; I blame the stress}, he was also called in to work on Sunday and got himself a sick fiancee. Yes, I am sick. Come on!! Give him a break. However, lucky him, this whole week he got off. He can and will enjoy his last few days before big changes in his life start to happen. School for him starts back in a week. Back to school or as I call it back to life and reality will begin sooner than later.

The plans we had for Sunday we decided to fulfill today, depending on how I feel and how the situation is. There was a major earthquake in the Napa Valley area yesterday morning, so before we head on out to breathe some fresh air {needed for me as I am slightly feeling better and yes, can even blog} we have to call in and see how things look. Either way, it is Monday, it is a new day, and a new week, so what is better than doing a fun trip to the wine country, or another region depending on the situation? Sleeping in until 2pm maybe but no one does this anymore. Life is too short to waste it in bed; you got to go out and explore.

Happy Monday everyone.
Whatever you are doing I hope it is marvelous {even when you go to work or go to school}, and whatever you wish you could be doing instead I am sure is also wonderful.

xoxo

Thursday, August 21, 2014

You Only Live Once


Happy late Thursday everyone!
Also, happy early weekend. It will be a busy weekend for my favorite person and I. We will explore the surrounding areas again, and hopefully experience a fun weekend. I'm so thrilled. We might have spent time away in Orange County {with me three days/nights away from him} but we still need to get out of our apartment more often and explore NorCal. Granted, by being homebodies we save money, and drama...but our tiny place cannot offer what the world has to offer. We only live once...we gotta lick the bowl. Trust me I am starting to lick {or shall I say devour} more and more. Sugared or not. ;)

Have a great weekend.
See you all Monday.

image via keep

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Potato, Zucchini, and Tomato Gratin



Since my job search isn't the best at the moment, my recipe searches and ideas are blooming. Also, as a soon-to-be wife to an I-eat-everything-you-cook-honey man I think I can easily try new things. So glad we are no picky eaters (except for him not liking bell peppers!!! How on earth am I going to convince this guy it's actually really yummy?!). Lately, I have tried to incorporate more veggies and fruits to our diet. I love meat and fish, but it also gets rather pricey over time. Plus, we both need to eat more seasonal veggies and fruits; what is better than looking for fun recipes online or in magazines while trying to safe money and stay healthy?! Nothing! Maybe.

Temperatures have cooled a little and by that I mean we still have temps in the lower 90s, but it is a start. With fall around the corner I was eager to try something new, something that reminds me of home, my mom, and cooler temps. A gratin of any kind would be the solution, and that is how I came up with the potato gratin with a twist aka zucchini and tomato. 

Here is what you need (servings of four) :
  • 5 tsps olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced) - I didn't use the garlic press this time and cut it in slices only
  • 1 lb gold potatoes (peeled)
  • 1 zucchini (medium, about 8 ounces)
  • 2 tomatoes (vine-ripened or other ripe, about 3/4 pound, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds)
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt or regular salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme - fresh or not, finely chopped
  • 2 oz finely grated cheese (cantal or cheddar cheese)

Here is what you do:

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in upper third (I did it in the middle and it came out fine)
- Coat a 9-by-13-inch gratin dish with 1 teaspoon oil, and sprinkle with garlic.
- Slice potatoes and zucchini as thinly as possible into rounds. 
- Arrange potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in overlapping layers around the dish.
- Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. 
- Lastly, drizzle with remaining 4 teaspoons oil, and sprinkle with thyme and cheese

- Cover the whole thing with foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Remove foil and continue baking for about 25 more minutes, until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately.



It was an easy dish. I used only two potatoes, and added more tomatoes. Also, I sprinkled more cheese on top. Next time I will use another cheese. As delicious and lightweight the dish was, it lacked the cheese flavor I was hoping to get. Despite my disappointment in the cheese the dish was still good and we finished the whole thing. :) Plus, the slightly burned cheese on the side was delicious; just the way I like it.

A gratin can be a side dish, too. I chose to do this as the main dish since I did not want to cook too much {in other words, I am lazy and didn't want to cook at all}. If you choose to make this as a side dish you can easily pair this with pork chops, or spicy chicken. Overall I liked its simplicity and healthy aspect. :) 

Just sharing this with you makes me hungry again!

xoxo

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wedding Inspiration #3

When it comes to weddings it is usually all about the bride. Her dress, hair, nails, make-up, and shoes are very important on that beautiful day. However, that is not all. The groom's outfit is just as important. I believe in details, and they especially come in handy when it comes to his outfit.

Today, my favorite person and I are going shopping - it is his day. We will not stop until he is comfortable in whatever he is wearing. I am excited to see what he chooses. We decided to do this together because I am more into fashion than he is, and also because he needs someone by his side to make sure he doesn't end up walking into GameStop at some point. Just saying.


We both looked at photos to get ideas, and he seemed interested in something less traditional that still showed a hint or two of tradition. Ha, easier said than done. I personally like the first idea but I am biased, it is after all purple. It would go well with my dress that is for sure, since my dress is anything else than traditional white {yes, you read right, it may not be white - but I won't spoil the fun here}. The third one is also on my "like list" and the seventh one as well. There is just something beautiful about a rustic wedding theme. Also, since we live in the wine country, we better have something rustic going on at our wedding.

What do you think? 
Traditional? Less, and more rustic? Or a combination of all of it?

We shall see what we come up with today. One thing is for sure, it will be a long shopping day for him. I'm sorry honey, you wanted to look perfect {and you should}, so that is what we girls do on a daily basis...you will get over this day, trust me!

xoxo 

 images via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

Monday, August 18, 2014

Missing Southern California


Early August it was time for us to hop into one car and drive 7+ hours south to Los Angeles. The excitement I felt prior to our departure is indescribable. Packing was no fun, but to know that I will be in an area where I feel home and safe was needed. It was time to rejuvenate. We both needed that. Also, it was time for me to pack up more of my belongings and completely move up north. As of a few days ago I officially moved to Sacramento. Yay. 

I drove most of the time down which was a pleasure for me. The second we drove closer to Los Angeles I got excited. I might have yelled out a few signs and locations that were dear to me and meant I finally arrived home. During our trip we both understood what we had been missing, and how much we had longed for this place. I always told him that Southern California will be in our hearts and souls, and that no matter where we end up going we will miss it. He always disagreed with that; until we drove into Los Angeles. His mind was set to moving back and finding a job down south once we will be done with our education. Really looking forward to that. Until then, we will visit often and it will feel fabulous.


I missed these doggies. Aunty Selma was greeted with love and kisses, and some slobber. I enjoyed my snuggle time with them. It is funny how much I had missed the company of a dog, or a pet in general. We have no pets in Sacramento {yet} so this was long overdue!

 

My friend performed at the Improv so it was a must to show up and cheer. It was a fun night filled with jokes, laughter, good drinks, and a clapping crowd. Also, and so not related to the Improv, I love my new tumbler...so made for me!

Eating is one of my favorite activities. Exploring new places, or going back to old favorites was one huge highlight during my ten-day vacation. Also, yes, I ate that bread and it was delicious. I also paid for it later on that day when my stomach rebelled. I was so hoping it was gluten free. In fact I tried to convince myself it was gluten free even though I knew it wasn't. Bread simple is made out of wheat flour, unless otherwise stated.
In short, I ate a ton; no wonder my pants won't fit me anymore. I kept my photos to a minimum...so please use your bright imagination, I know you can!

 

A trip to the beach was on our list as well. Plus, a trip to Gelato Paradiso in Laguna Beach after the beach was also a must. Neither disappointed.


I consider these people my family. We may disagree, we may frown, but we also laugh, share, and love. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see and spend time with them during my stay. We shall see each other soon again. I promise. And yes, I am the one on the far left - wearing my very comfortable Kate Spade sunglasses; it was a sunny day in Santa Monica!


Hope you enjoyed my little recap. It was wonderful, and I cannot wait to go back!  

Linking up with Monday Morning Gossip.
Join the fun and hop on over!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wedding Inspiration #2

Our wedding will be anything but traditional. It will be quick, short, and simple; only very close family and friends will attend - we will have less than 20 people attend. Yes, THAT small of a big day!! :) And, it will be sooner than anticipated.
Am I ready for this? I think so. What is there not to be ready for? I will be marrying my best friend, the one I share anything and everything with, the one I can be myself with, and the one that accepts me for who I am and what I do. Can't complain. Can't complain at all.


Now, having a small intimate wedding doesn't mean boring; and it shouldn't be boring. It also shouldn't be overwhelming. It should be filled with things any bride {or groom} wants to have on that special day, and it should show some personality. I went through millions of websites to get hints or ideas on what to do when it comes to a small wedding. There isn't a lot on what not to do, or on what to do but there are definitely a few things that I have come across everyone agreed on having - small wedding or not. 

Wedding Favors
Big weddings, with bridesmaids, and groomsmen, and flower girls and what not usually have more than just one favor. It usually begins when you enter the venue. You have signs up {apparently, some say it's decoration, others say it's part of the favors}, name tags {a favor actually}, cookies, candies, jars, and what not. Tables are decorated, chairs are colorful, the music in the background, the lights and what not. It's part of decoration, and also part of those favors. Quite interesting.

Now, smaller weddings...they shouldn't lack favors. In fact, they should actually pay attention to the favors. In our case, we want it simple, and we have a budget we really don't want to go over unless it is very very necessary. I feel like a bag of colorful almonds is just boring. Besides, my future mother-in-law is allergic to ALL nuts, so that is already a no go. So I browsed around and came up with a few ideas:


Personally, I love wedding favors. Since our wedding will be very simple I want this tiny, cute touch added to our big day. Details are important here. Everyone driving to see us get hitched and spending time with us that day should end up going home with a little thank you resembling the two of us. I want it personalized without the super duper personalized touch. Does this make sense? 

Believe it or not, I have the favors done...well, in theory. Now I have to go out and prepare it all. No biggie!!!

Flowers
I almost forgot a bride holds a bouquet. Yes, I forgot. My future mother-in-law mentioned it and I was like "oh yeah,....". Oops!!!! I mean, I just didn't think it was important when you say I Do in front of a lovely judge. Literally. Well, then...let's discuss flowers because I am not a flower girl.


I really don't know. Do I really have to have a bouquet? 

You know what my biggest concern is?
Getting the right shoes to the dress I already have. Yes. It is that dramatic. I sent photos to three of my best friends and two of them chose the one pair I hate the most. I didn't want to go out and buy a new pair of shoes but it turns out I should do so. Also, my favorite person needs to be dressed. When it comes to fashion he is not fully into it. Granted, he has his moments and appreciates a great pair of shorts that goes beautifully with his favorite shirt. Yet, now, when it comes to our big day I know for a fact I need to dress him. That will be fun. For me; not so much for him. He will be dragged around until we get everything done...from tie to socks and shoes, and in between with shirt, dress pants and what not. A guy needs to look his part, too.

I am excited and I am a little nervous.
All I know is that our special day will be beautiful!

images via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 |

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