Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yes, this is a post about laundry.

Ok readers, I need your help.  Lately, I've been washing a lot of my laundry on the delicate cycle.  Not just the typical delicates...we're talking cardigans and thin t-shirts in addition to the nicer-quality tops I've been trying to work into my wardrobe.  To be fair, the tags all say "gentle cycle", and I don't want my clothes to pill! The problem is that half of the stuff can't go in the dryer. Yeah, I throw most of the cardigans and tshirts in the dryer (on LOW, jeez) but a lot of the tops and sweaters can't go in the dryer, either because they say "lay flat to dry" or because I'm paranoid that they'll shrink.

Usually it's ok; I divide the delicates into "dryer" and "not dryer", and lay flat all my "not dryer" pieces on this awesome guy over here:

Michael Graves, I love you.

The mesh keeps my clothes from gaining awkward indentations (that are seriously difficult to get out without ironing or re-washing).  The mesh is removable for super easy storage if you need to tuck it away, or if you want to drape towels on it or something (though who line-dries towels?). Thanks to Erin for introducing us; I am in love.

However, we only have one.  Our other drying rack is from IKEA, and it is all skinny slats.

I bought you for Will when he first had sweaters
that couldn't go in the dryer. We've moved on.

It doesn't hold a lot, and even bulky sweaters end up with those awkward indentations.  But sometimes (usually), I need the space of both racks.  I feel silly buying a second Michael Graves (also I can't find it online, so now I'm freaking out that maybe it doesn't exist anymore), but the IKEA one is kinda useless.  

Tonight, I am in the predicament of having done (somehowidon'tknowhowitpileduplikethatyikes) THREE LOADS of delicates.  Load #1 all went on the racks (and barely fit, I might add. ok, didn't fit. one sweater is laying on the dryer).  Load #2 went in the dryer.  Load #3 is sitting in the washer, because when I went down to the basement to take it out, the rack stuff still wasn't dry (I washed it last night, but it's been cold out).  So it's going to sit overnight tonight.  In the washer.  Hopefully it won't get like, gross and moldy or something, but that usually takes several days of sitting (not that I would know) to occur.  Fingers crossed that tomorrow (when, um, I get home at like 10pm) Load #1 will be dry and I can put Load #3 on the racks.  It will be wrinkled and I might have to air fluff it in the dryer or something, because ahem, delicate "nice tops" shouldn't be wrinkled.  And I don't like to iron.

So help me please. Do I follow my laundry directions too strictly?  Should I just do smaller loads and let this be a lesson to myself to never let the laundry pile up again?  Is there a way to avoid those indentations?  Should I just seek out another mesh rack?


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Engagement Photos!

Oh jeez.  Has it really been two weeks since I posted the sneak peek of our engagement photo session?  (yes. the answer you are looking for is yes.)

The ever-wise Tricia pointed out that we are planning a wedding during Holiday Season - and I'll add that it is also during Open Enrollment and Benefits Renewal Season (HR people, can I get a what what? This is a little bit of work, no?).  We might be a little bit nuts to be planning this wedding so quickly, and in such a busy time of year, but honestly I like it this way.  I like that I don't have to wait a year (or more) to marry Will.  I hardly want to wait until February (luckily, the sentimentality of getting married the weekend we met helps a sap like me when it comes to waiting).

Anyway, we were lucky enough to be able to find time to take our engagement photos with Emily before the craziness of the holidays, and I am pleased as punch to be able to share some of our photos with you.  Emily wrote a beautifully sweet post on her blog about our session (as she always does for her clients, because she's fantastic).  Check it out, and check out her other posts, her other galleries, her beautiful website.  Because she is one talented photographer.

And now, photos! I'll probably post a couple more pictures when I get the CD from Emily...just because they're all so great and it's impossible for me to choose just a few favorites (and I can't figure out how to insert from the main gallery without purchasing them right now, and the full CD is coming soon).

For now, these are some of my "they give me the warm fuzzies" favorites from Emily's post:

Always good to start a photo shoot with Fenton's.

Go Pens!

We had so much fun running around Berkeley, taking photos in some of our favorite spots, acting goofy and laughing a lot.  Can't wait for Em to take pictures on our big day :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Engagement Photos Sneak Peek!

So many wedding updates, so little time.  No, seriously, according to our registry, our wedding is in 90 days. That is approximately 3 months.  That doesn't sound like very much, does it?  It feels like we just got engaged (and we did, just about 2 months ago).

So...updates. We have a venue.  We have a date.  I have a dress (and 1/2 of my shoes - got the blue glitter TOMs, but still need to find snow boots).  I've started knitting the scarves for the groomsmen, and Reed has started on the wrist warmers for the ladies.  The moms and sisters are dress-hunting, and we're going to start looking for a house in Tahoe for the wedding party soon.  We're making appointments with caterers and I have all my dress fittings scheduled.  We have preliminary registries set up (the Honeyfund is mostly just placeholders for now), and Alyssa is working on cake designs.

Oh, and we took our engagement photos.  :)

Emily posted this one sneak peek shot.
Can't wait to see the rest!
This is just a sneak peek, but I'll post more as I have them, probably after Thanksgiving.  Thanks to Emily for a super fun rainy day of shooting!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

flask review

I was recently contacted by Red Envelope (who I met at BlogHer - funny how many BlogHer-related posts I'm doing lately) about doing a review of one of their products.  I really wanted to review these customizable throw pillows, because they come with cute pictures of states, and I thought it would be fun to have a Washington or Minnesota pillow and a California pillow for our home.  Sadly, there was a bit of miscommunication, and the only pillows to choose from were text-only, and I don't really care for the text-on-pillow thing.  Doesn't really go with our decor.

Anyway, they were nice enough to let me select something else, so I selected a flask. Why not?  We don't own one, and Will actually drinks things like gin straight out of a flask, and I figured it would be good for us to take to games and tailgates and whatnot to mix with other stuff.  All alcohol-drinking adults should have flasks, right?

So part of the deal with receiving this product was that I have to write a review, and link you to some stuff. Maybe that means I'm selling out a little bit, so sorry if you never want to read this blog again, but oh well.  Kimmy wanted a free flask, so there you go.  Red Envelope is a good place to go if you're looking for personalized bar gifts (like, say, a flask), or any leather gifts, really.  But honestly, they have a whole lot of stuff to choose from in their catalogue.  So check 'em out.

The flask (actually flasks...they accidentally sent me two - bonus?) is pretty good.  We don't really have any other flasks to compare them to, and our flask experience is pretty low, but it works.  The leather is glued on in a way that is a liiiiitle bit cheap; I thought you had to remove the leather to clean the flask, and it came apart easily as I tried to take it off -- clearly, I wasn't supposed to rip the glue, and luckily I only did a little corner before realizing this. It has silly debossed writing on it, so it's not necessarily the classy gift-type flask (unless your classy recipient would laugh at the "damn fool" message on the bottom there), but we don't mind that.  We need to get a smaller funnel, because our funnels are all a little too big, and it's hard to pour without spilling -- it would be nice if it came with a funnel.  Do any flasks come with a funnel?  Are you just supposed to have a steady hand?

Overall, a decent flask I think.  Ours didn't come personalized, so I can't speak to the quality of that, but Will's used his twice already and, when prompted for a review, said, "It's fine."  And that's about all I need from a flask, really.  Nothing fancy, a comfortable fit in the pocket, not too heavy, and easy to use.   I mean, it's a flask, right?

Am I missing something? Any flask aficionados out there with opinions or things I should be looking for in any future flask selection?

Thanks to Red Envelope for sending us the flasks!

Plastic Storage Containers

It's no secret that I kind of have a thing for plastic storage containers.  Whether they're big and rectangular (say, for holding holiday decorations), long and skinny (say, for storing linens under the bed), or cylindrical with a twist-on lid (perfect for freezing soup), or...ok, I might have a problem.

If this was the 1950's, you know I would host Tupperware parties (yeah, I know you can still do that now, but somehow it seems wrong?).  I met the Glad people at BlogHer last year and scored a free sample of these nifty containers with little mini containers that snap into the inside of the lid (salad dressing! dip for veggies! chocolate sauce?), and at our old apartment, I literally had a plastic storage container filled with plastic storage containers (due to cabinet space that wasn't conducive to a tupperware drawer).

I'm not kidding. It sat on top of the fridge (or sometimes on the floor).  Great for giving to a baby to play with, but guess what? We don't have a baby who needs to be distracted by a Giant Plastic Tub of Smaller Plastic Tubs. I can't find a picture of it at the moment, but rest assured, it was ridiculous.

I've had "figure out tupperware situation" on my to-do list since we moved into our new place in August, but it's one of those things that isn't a top priority, so it kept getting pushed out.  I really wanted to organize it with some sort of pull-out drawer, because stack and re-stack as I might, things always got all jumbled when I tried to pull something from the back. And once it's a jumbled, cascading pile of mismatched lids and bottoms, there's not a whole lot that can be done.  Sure, I would occasionally squat down and rearrange it all, but I knew it would just happen again.  So disheartening, this tupperware (first world) problem.

It took winning a $50 Lowe's gift card on my we-met-at-blogher friend Emily's blog (The Happy Home - check it out!) to get me going. I found this Rev-A-Shelf drawer, ordered it online, and then...let it sit on the floor in the living room for almost more than two weeks.  But this story has a happy ending!  I finally installed it today, and (aside from my power tools needing a recharge) it was super easy to do.  Like, embarrassingly easy. I only used the power tools because I had to pre-drill a little, and because I like the convenience of the electric screwdriver.  Boom, done.

It's a little blurry, and a little crooked, because I took this picture on my phone.  If I hadn't been so proud of my tiny accomplishment and so eager to rush to the computer and blog, I would have taken nicer shots.  Maybe even one with me in it, looking all "ooh! so much plastic storage!" (nerd)

There is a little bit missing from the collection at this photo (it's in use), but believe it or not, I got rid of about 1/3 of what we had before.  (ha. "we" - as if Will cared about any of this)  This tiny little cabinet is much more organized now, though, and I love that I can just pull the drawer out to get what's in the back.  And if I run out of room, I can stick lids on the left side of the drawer there.  Or use that for...something else that is skinny.

I'm glad I downsized the collection (and admittedly, there is still a LOT left - but much of it is throwaway stuff that I can use to take food to other people's houses), and even more glad that I have it mostly squeezed into the drawer (they call me The Master Packer).  Honestly, it took me longer to figure out that puzzle than it did to screw in the drawer tracks, but I did it, and now it's nice (so there).  We'll see if it stays that way!

I have many more things on my weekend to-do list, and we're going to a basketball game in approximately 3 hours...let's see how much more I get done (and how much laying on the couch I tempting).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lindt Chocolate Tastes Good and You Can Have Some!

Lucky me, I met the fine folks at Lindt Chocolate when I was at BlogHer this year.  So many chocolate samples, oh yum oh yum oh yum.  And then they mentioned me on their BlogHer recap post.  And then they offered to send me more chocolate.  Lindt, I love you.  If Will hadn't given me a giant diamond, and if I could marry a company (corporations are people too?), I would marry you.  For reals.

cue angels sighing 

My dear, amazing, wonderfully hilarious friend Lyz (who lives way too far away from me) also got courted by the Lindt (wemakeyourchocolatedreamscometrue) people, and she made some SEXY PIE out of her chocolate.  I just ate it.  But I made Will help me.  And I made him offer tasting comments.  We worked for this chocolate, yo! (not really)

What did we think?

  • 70% cocoa almond brittle -- a pleasant nutty flavor, chocolate is dark but still creamy. I like the crisp/brittle bits amidst the creamy chocolate. Will says it has a "satisfying crunch"
  • 70% cocoa nut crunch -- a little more plain, more focused on the chocolate, but still with a walnutty undertone. Not sure I can taste the hazelnuts at all, but I enjoy the still-creamy darkness.  A milder, more traditional-tasting nutted chocolate.
  • 90% cocoa -- I was surprised at just how much darker it tasted than the 70%.  I mean, it's a 20% difference, sure, but I hadn't really expected it to be so...cocoa-more-than-chocolate. Not sweet at all, really, more bitter, but not in a bad way? It's not subtly creamy like the 70%, just raw-tasting cocoa.  I like it, a lot, but this is definitely a 1-square at a time richness (the 70% with various nuts are lighter in taste and I could probably eat half a bar at a time).  I wonder what the 99% is going to taste like, holycow.
  • Extra Fine Dark with a Touch of Sea Salt -- We tried this almost immediately after the 90%, and it felt extremely smooth and creamy in comparison.  The sea salt is subtle at first, but it sticks with you, leaving a pleasing salty-sweet aftertaste. Will thought it had a slight raspberry taste, and I agree. A bit fruity and sweet, with that saltiness countering nicely.  I'm so glad Lindt sent this in my batch, because it was my favorite one at BlogHer :)  Delicious.
  • 99% Dark -- whoa baby is this stuff dark.  Scary dark.  Almost too much to handle dark.  Seriously.  The instructions say to place it on your tongue and let it Reed and I did just that.  It turned into a sort of chalky, bitter mush in our mouths.  Not super pleasant.  I chewed and swallowed, and it was like, ok. I guess.  Sort of like taking a spoonful of cocoa powder.  Bitter, without the sweetness of the 90%.  This chocolate is probably best used in recipes.  Or maybe turned into chocolate milk.  Will have to experiment with the rest of the little squares (this one comes in much smaller squares than the others).

We didn't do an official taste test for the plain 70% chocolate, because it's the basis for the nutty ones, and because honestly I forgot it was on the counter until I started cleaning this weekend and realized it was still there.  And now I want to make sexy pie.

And I want to give you chocolate!  Read on...

Some words from Lindt:

The Lindt Excellence collection is the world’s most exceptionally-crafted premium chocolate, boasting a wide range of cocoa percentage bars and innovative flavor combinations.  Made with the finest cocoa beans and highest quality ingredients, these innovations from the Master Chocolatiers at Lindt have a thin, refined profile to offer chocolate lovers a unique and sophisticated sensory experience.  The 3.5 oz. Lindt Excellence bars are available at retail locations nationwide, Lindt Chocolate Shops, and (SRP: $2.59 each).  For more information, visit 
The winner of the giveaway will receive three Excellence bars including: Excellence 70% Cocoa, Excellence Almond Brittle and Excellence Nut Crunch.
 Excellence 70% CocoaThe #1 premium chocolate bar in the U.S. – a full-bodied dark chocolate, masterfully balanced to be neither bitter nor overpowering Excellence 70% Almond BrittleA delicate crunch of almond brittle provides a sweet counterbalance to the deep flavor of the full-bodied, dark chocolate Excellence 70% Cocoa Nut CrunchThe subtle flavor and delicate crunch of caramelized walnut and hazelnut pieces enhances the refined, intense dark chocolate

To enter -
  • Leave a comment about your favorite kind of chocolate.  Or why you love chocolate.  Or why chocolate is the cure for what ails us.
  • Share this post on facebook, Twitter, etc. and come back and leave a comment for each thing you do.
  • Go read Lyz's post about sexy pie and come back here to leave a comment telling me something you liked about her post.  Cross-bloggy-promotion for my friend Lyz!  Bonus treat: she also posts pictures of her nommably chubby baby, Ellis.  Enjoy.

Giveaway remains open until 11:11pm (Pacific) on 11/11/11.  Because, as Lyz said, I can.


Shutterfly Winners!

Congratulations! Everyone who entered the Shutterfly giveaway is a winner!  Because I had 3 prizes and 4 entries, I decided to add my coupon code to the pot for the Grand Winner, and give the other 3 codes to the other three.

The Grand Winner (receives 50 free Shutterfly holiday cards)


Colette, Alyssa and Emily, you will each receive 25 free Shutterfly holiday cards!  

I'll email you all your coupon codes :)  Enjoy!