Friday, August 31, 2012

Things You May Not Know About Me

So this is probably the longest and most personal post of mine to date.  Last week Laura from Real Home Living tagged me for The Liebster Award (fun fact: Laura and I went to college together!), and even though I don't normally do these things, I thought it might be fun for something different.  I've really enjoyed getting to know other bloggers in the blogging community, so! here goes:

The Rules
1. Create a blog post including 11 random facts about yourself
2. Answer the 11 random questions from the blogger who nominated you
3. Pass the award on to at least 5 blogs and link to them in the post
4. Let the people know you nominated them

1. I started learning Chinese at the age of 11, when my family moved to China.  I absolutely loved the language and stuck with it, studying it in college as well.  I took French in high school, and I also studied Arabic in college, but never excelled in or enjoyed either of them like I do Mandarin.

2. I am not athletically inclined.  I really enjoy swimming and I was on my high school swim team, but if it requires some sort of athletic equipment count me out.

3. I'm afraid of all of the typical things:  spiders, drowning, small spaces, outer space, bats, a bank robbery happening while I am at the bank, etc.

4. Caleb and I have known each other most of our lives, but we didn't start dating until after college.  Then we dated for four months, got engaged, and got married five months after that!

5. I have my nose pierced.  Sometimes it's hard to tell in pictures so you may or may not already know this.  When I was in middle school I had a friend who lived in Pakistan who had her nose pierced, and I was so jealous!  I never stopped wanting a nose ring, so I finally got it pierced when I was in college.  It really hurt!  I still have it in and I don't know if I'll ever take it out.

6. In college I studied International Relations with a focus in World Politics and Policy.  Right now I'm not using my degree at all.  I'm working at a law firm!  It's something that I never thought I would do but I've learned a lot.

7. When we got married I knew I wanted to take Caleb's last name but I hated the thought of giving up my maiden name altogether.  So I moved my middle name (Lynn) to be part of my legal first name, Sherri Lynn.  I made my maiden name my middle name and took Caleb's last name.  So now my name is really long and Caleb thinks it confuses everyone (ok I guess it does) but I'm really happy that I did it that way.

8. I'm really bad at fixing my hair.  Like every day it basically looks the same.  If I were really rich I would have a personal hair stylist.

9. Last year I met Michelle Obama!  (You can read the story here) I remember thinking two things: 1) She is really tall and 2) One day when we have kids and I tell them I met Michelle Obama when she was the First Lady, they will think I am old.

10. I still eat like I'm 5 years old.  I love mac & cheese, juice boxes, and frosted animal crackers.

11. I not so secretly want to have twins!  I know it would be a lot of work, but one pregnancy and two kids sounds like some sort of BOGO deal to me.  Caleb does have twins in his family so I'm praying we will too :)

ok and now for Laura's questions:

1. What is your current ringtone?
Something generic and boring that came with my phone.  I never change my ringtone because when it starts playing I never realize it's my phone that's ringing!

2. Favorite thing to do on a Friday night?
Dinner & a movie.  By the time Friday rolls around we are tired from work and not up to doing much.  I love just relaxing and thinking about the weekend that's ahead!

3. What do you usually have for breakfast?
A simplified version of this green smoothie.  I was anti-green drinks for a long time, but it is so refreshing and actually fills me up.

4. Do you have any superstitions? 
No I don't think so!

5. If you had to do it over again what would you study in school?
I loved what I studied, but if I had to choose something else it would probably be speech therapy.

6. What TV shows are you into right now?
Nothing's really on now, but this spring/summer I was super into Mad Men!  I watched all five seasons back to back.

7. What's the last concert you went to?
Jack Johnson!  I met up with some of my college girlfriends for a girls' weekend and it was so fun!

8. What was your first AIM screen name?
lilsnowflake728 - a rough translation of my Chinese name, which meant beautiful snow

9. Favorite birthday memory?
My 21st.  I was studying abroad in China and a bunch of my girlfriends and I went to our favorite/the only Mexican restaurant in the city for much-missed Mexican food and half-price margaritas.  We had signed a contract for our program that we wouldn't speak English all summer, so I thought it would be a total drag to have my entire birthday in Chinese, but it was super fun and I will never forget it.

10. What was your first paying job?
I started working from home doing medical transcription when I was in high school.  My dad taught me everything and I worked for him at first and then slowly transitioned to other doctors.  I ended up doing medical transcription for nine years (wowza!).  It was a really flexible and nice job.

11. If someone gave you $500 for no reason, what would you spend it on?
Decorating our house!  We still have several rooms without furniture and other rooms need more decorations and painting.  

And my questions for them:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What's your favorite way to exercise?
3. What is your morning routine?
4. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
5. Are you saving up for anything special/specific right now?
6. Would you rather have an entire closet full of shoes or purses?
7. What is your most memorable vacation?
8. If you could choose, where would you want to live next?
9. What is your favorite holiday?
10. What is your biggest pet peeve?
11. Where is your favorite place to shop?

whew if you made it to the end I applaud you!  Have a great long weekend!  xx

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watermelon Slush

Last week one of Caleb's coworkers gave him a huge watermelon from their garden.  There was no way we'd be able to eat the whole thing, so we gave half to a neighbor and have slowly been tackling the rest of it.  We spent some time at the pool Saturday afternoon, and when we got home we whipped up this delicious watermelon slush.  So fresh and a great way to end the summer!

Watermelon Slush
3 cups small watermelon chunks
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup of ice

Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add more water or ice to get the desired consistency.

source: recipe from say yes to hoboken

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wedding Pics!

My sister-in-law's wedding pictures are up on the photographer's blog, and they are so good!  You can see part one here and part two here!  Here is a sneak peek, but go check them out for yourself and leave them some love :)

(images by colling photography)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Polka Dots

Is anyone else excited that polka dots are everywhere for this fall?!  I have always loved polka dots so I'm super excited that they are popping up everywhere.  Are polka dots a do or don't for you?  Here are some of my favorite polka dot pieces that I'd love to add to my closet...







Friday, August 24, 2012

French Yogurt Cake

I made this cake on Sunday and totally tried to pass it off as bread.  Caleb took one bite and said "this tastes like cake!" Whoops.  Honestly I didn't really know what to expect with this recipe; I didn't know if it would be more cake-y or more French sweet bread that's acceptable to eat for breakfast.  What resulted was a super moist, lighter than pound cake but more flavorful than pound cake (if that makes sense) cake.  It is probably the easiest and fastest cake I've ever made, and I will definitely be making it again.  Happy Friday!

French Yogurt Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2" loaf pain with nonstick spray; dust with flour and tap out excess.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together until sugar is moist.  Add yogurt, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla; whisk to blend.  Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pain and bake for 50-55 minutes, until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Invert onto rack; let cool completely.  Store airtight at room temperature.

source: slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Reading, Lately

Here's the stack of books I've enjoyed lately...

RebeccaI totally judged this book by its cheesy romance-looking cover, but finally gave it a try.  And surprise - it was good!  It's more of a suspense than a romance, and the story, though a little strange, really had me reeled in.

GoldThis book was good, but not Chris Cleave's best.  Little Bee is one of my all-time favorite books, so I expected Gold to be up there on my list of favorites as well.  I did enjoy reading it while the Olympics were going on, and I think if I had had lower expectations it would have been even more enjoyable.

Cupcakes and Cashmere Emily's blog is one of my favorites, and her book was like one huge, long blog post that you could read in bed without staring at a computer screen.  I love her simplistic approach to decorating and how she makes everything look pretty.

The Time In Between Best book I've read in a while!  Don't let the length scare you away!  The story sucked me in quickly and I was surprised by the turns the plot took several times.  I wish they would make this into a movie because it is just that good!

Plate to PixelThis book has been extremely useful in helping me to take better pictures of my recipes.  It is filled with gorgeous food pictures and covers so many aspects of photography.  Even if you don't enjoy food photography, this would be a great and different way to learn more about shooting with natural light, styling, etc.

The Perfectly Imperfect HomeI've kind of been obsessed with decorating books and magazines since we bought our house.  This little book lays out some basic decorating principles and guidelines to decorating a beautiful but comfortable home.

Design*Sponge at HomeAnyone who enjoys perusing Design*Sponge would like this book.  I didn't find that I would attempt too many of the DIYs in the back section of the book, but I loved looking at all of the sneak peeks that comprise a majority of the book.  There's some great decorating inspiration in there!

What have you been reading lately?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Weekend

After my resolution last week to be more productive, I kicked my butt into gear this weekend and got some stuff done! We started painting the guest room this weekend and it's almost done!  I also cleaned, got caught up on grocery shopping and meal planning, and got some baking done for this week.  It is such a good feeling to be going into the work week not behind!  We did leave time to have fun this weekend weekend too:  we rented The Hunger Games, spent some time reading, had dinner and gelato at this little cafĂ© downtown, and just enjoyed being together.  How did you spend your weekend?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Skillet Shrimp & Orzo

I've realized that we eat chicken for about 90% of our dinners.  It's just so easy and healthy and I find so many chicken recipes that I want to try!  So I decided to break out of my fowl rut and I tried a new shrimp dish.  It is such a simple dish to throw together after work but it was full of flavor and a delicious change from our go-to chicken.  Have a great weekend!

Skillet Shrimp & Orzo
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups halved grape tomatoes 
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound orzo
3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in top position.  In a large broiler-proof skillet, heat 5 tsp oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until just beginning to brown, 1 minute.  Increase heat to high and add tomatoes; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 minutes.  Add orzo and broth and bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until liquid is mostly absorbed, 10-12 minutes.

Toss shrimp with 1 tsp oli and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Remove skillet from oven and place shrimp on top of orzo. Heat broiler.  Broil until shrimp are opaque throughout, 4 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil and serve.

source: recipe from Everyday Food, May 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Emily & Dave's Wedding Weekend

Last weekend Caleb's sister Emily got married!  We went up to Virginia on Thursday and had a wonderful weekend getting ready for the wedding and then celebrating with Dave and Emily.  I didn't take many pictures on the actual wedding day but here are a few from the days leading up.  It was such a fun weekend, and we are so happy for all of the time we got to spend with Caleb's family!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Where I've Been

Sorry I've been MIA for the past two weeks.  I'm not pregnant and we didn't buy another house and there is no significant event that I can use as an excuse for my absence.  Just life.

I have been feeling SO overwhelmed the past few months...  I can pinpoint it back to when we bought our house; not because our house has been overwhelming, but because that seemed to be the start of our busy summer.  Work was busy in May, insane in June, and crazy in July.  We had houseguests three different weekends, traveled out of town for five weekends, attended three weddings, and managed to go on a vacation in there too.  The weeks have been long and busy and the weekends have been busy too.  I've been feeling like I'm in a constant state of catch-up: catching up on laundry, catching up on sleep, catching up on reading the books that I'm halfway through.  I made goals for July and didn't meet any of them!

All that to say I haven't liked the way life has been shaking down lately.  I need to be more productive during my lunch break, I need to push myself to get more things done after work even if I'm really tired.  I need to make some goals and actually keep them!  I need to do a better job of keeping in touch with my family and friends.  I need to get a better schedule and routine down so that I am doing the things that I want to do.

So I'm back.  I'ved missed blogging and I miss reading blogs so I'm going to figure out a better balance to make sure I'm being productive and enjoying life.

P.S. Can anyone relate or am I the only one who sometimes freaks and loses all sense of a balance in life?!

(image via)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wedding Shower Weekend

A couple of weekends ago we headed up to Virginia for Caleb's sister's wedding shower weekend.  I needed to hurry up and post pictures from the shower because Emily is getting married NEXT weekend!  Emily and I have been friends for over 13 years and sisters for the past 2 :)  I could not be more excited for her wedding and her marriage to Dave who is absolutely perfect for her!

present time!

cutest present ever! DIY personalized mr. & mrs. mugs

blessed with wonderful sisters-in-law :)

most of the bridesmaids

mother of the bride and bride-to-be :)