A wonderful weekend

Hi everybody! *waves hello*

I hope you had a lovely weekend. I know I sure did! I’ve been catching up with the hustle bustle from the holidays, and have also started a new full-time social media job (working from home! score!). It’s been a very exciting past few weeks in my household. This weekend was a 3 day weekend for me, and I had a jam-packed few days full of fun. To start, me and my gym buddies all got pedicures. I spoil myself about once a month for a pedicure, and the expense is well worth the hour of relaxation. Don’t our toes look adorable?

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Then, on Saturday, Matt and I enjoyed being spoiled Southern Californians by heading to Malibu, where we frolicked in the surf and sunbathed. 80 degrees on January 18. Yep, that’s pretty spoiled. It was funny because about five feet from our beach sheet, there was a Land’s End catalog shoot going on. The models were wearing big, chunky sweaters over bikini bottoms, and you could tell they were going for the Cape Cod / Nantucket type feel. Not in LA, baby… our beach days here are nice and warm.

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We hiked up to a lookout point above the beach, where the clear sky was a breathtaking backdrop to the blue ocean. Isn’t the view amazing?

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I scuttled around this canyon type thing, and had fun doing some tricep dips as I crawled through. I’m trying to squeeze in exercise wherever I can!

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After the beach, we saw Her. I’m still wrapping my head around that movie; I liked it, sure, but what an odd concept. Sadly it’s a concept that I can see becoming true in the very near future. We already have Siri, how long until our operating systems become our best friends and confidantes and therapists and doctors? Crazy, right?! You should go see it and tell me what you think.

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Today, we woke up early and headed to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. Right now, avocados, oranges, kale, cabbage, onions, potatos, bok choy and different lettuces are the stars of the season. I bought some organic carrots, celery, heirloom tomatoes, and bacon avocados for meals this week. I also picked up a half gallon of raw milk, because I made my own cheese! My dad got me this Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit for Christmas, and I’d been impatiently waiting for a weekend day to make my own mozzerella. More about that in a minute, but first I have to show you the delicious brunch I had today with my friend Timmy, new friends Chris and Travis, and Matt. Our friend Tim’s roommate’s boyfriend (got that?) lives in a beautiful midcentury modern house in the LA hills, and we were invited over today for a super yummy brunch of mimosas, cornflake crusted french toast, hash browns, and red pepper eggs. It was deeeeelicious and was the perfect “cheat meal” to close out my weekend. After we ate, we played Cards Against Humanity (which I am so buying, like now. Damn! I can’t, it’s sold out) and had a grand time guffawing at the incredibly offensive word combinations we came up with. It was an awesome, low key Sunday with delicious food, belly laughs, and great company.

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Now, back to the cheese! A few people have asked me if I’m going to blog the “how to”, but to be honest, I don’t really know how other than to follow the instructions in the booklet that came with the kit. I was nervous about making it, but truthfully, it’s a pretty easy process as long as you measure the temperature of the whey and stick to the general time guidelines. We used raw milk, which is unpasteurized and made me feel all hippie-anarchist. I even drank a little bit…. tastes exactly like “normal” milk. Some people speculate that raw milk can help ease allergies — curious! I’m not a huge milk drinker in general, otherwise I might give that a try. So basically making mozzarella was pretty simple. Here’s a nifty little instagram video I did of it.

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The end result? YUM! It’s not as salty or as squeaky as store-bought cheese, but it has a very light, milky taste. I found it the perfect backdrop for our dinner of caprese salad — sliced heirloom tomatoes with cheese, basil olive oil, salt and pepper. Amazing. AND, one last wonderful thing about this weekend? I put on my previously too tight to button jeans, and while they’re still snug, they button. They’re wearable 🙂 YAY!

So there’s my weekend in a nutshell. I feel so lucky to get the things I get to do — spend time with awesome people, play in sunny So Cal’s awesome beaches, make and enjoy delicious food. I hope you had an equally excellent weekend. So tell me, what did you do this weekend? What was the highlight?

Fettucini and Friends

Hello dear readers! Did you have a good weekend? I did, well actually, I am, because I’m writing this to you on a lovely Sunday afternoon while my adoring husband naps next to me. Last night, we invited our awesome friends Jason, Juan and Randy over for dinner in honor of my sister’s visit to Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to make fettucini alfredo because it’s simple, delicious, and fun to make when guests are over. For a more detailed explanation, visit the Pioneer Woman – but here’s how ya do it.

1) All you need is: 1 Box of fettucini, 1 thing of whipping cream (you need 1 cup), 1 stick of salted butter and 1 tub of parmesan cheese.

Easy Peasy Heart Attack Pasta

2) Boil water for your pasta.

3) Slowly melt the butter in a large sauce pan. SLOWLY. If it burns, you’ll have brown butter, which is yummy, but not what you want.

4) When your butter is mostly melted, add in 1 cup of cream. Let it chill out for a couple seconds and then gently whisk together . Let the cream and butter mingle for awhile and add a few cracks of pepper, if desired. When it’s hot and mixed well (medium heat) – again – not too high, or you’ll end up with scalded cream – turn off the stove and get a large serving bowl.

Mix it up!

5) Add 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese to the serving bowl. Pour in the butter/cream mixture. Let it hang out for a couple minutes to melt all the cheese, and then whisk again, gently. You can add more black pepper, if you want.

Pepper, cream, butter and cheese = BFFs

6) Your pasta should be almost done. Add the cooked, drained pasta directly into the cheesy, creamy serving bowl. Using tongs, gently toss to coat. Add one more cup of parmesan cheese and toss until all cheese is melted. You just made fettucini alfredo – and DAMN, is it good.

Mouth is watering...

Come to mama.

Obviously this isn’t a meal you eat every week (if you can do it, all power to you), but as an occasional splurge, it’s an awesome dinner party dish. We combined it with yummy pomegranate margaritas my sister made, red wine, a bolognese sauce, a green salad and garlic bread. SUPER TASTY! As you can see by the many bottles on the counter – we had a good time. What’s your go-to dinner party dish?

I will always revert back to my rock n' roll roots when posing for photos!

Here's a picture of my sister scrubbing my stove. Because you know, doing the dishes and wiping down all of the counters wasn't enough.

PS: I want to thank you all for your awesome and heartfelt comments lately. Getting comments is my FAVORITE thing EVER, and it’s so cool to connect with you. Thanks. Your comments are like little warm fuzzy hugs sent over the interwebz. <3

Midwestern Magic, Part 2

Grandma and I

After leaving the Wisconsin Dells, we arrived in Maplewood, MN around 5 pm – perfect time for a barbeque! It was great seeing my aunts, uncles and cousins – and my sweet grandmother, who’s turning 90 in a few weeks but still has a razor-sharp wit. My dad was grilling up salmon burgers and cranberry walnut bratwurst, and the table was heaping with apple ambrosia dip, roasted potatoes, smoked salmon and three types of pie. We ate and then sat around being merry – here’s proof.

Some of you reading this blog know that I’m a big klutz – and if you don’t, well, you do now. As I oohed and ahhed over the beautiful handcrafted doll house at my grandmother’s house, somehow my big old booty bumped into a little TV tray and sent diet coke splashing everywhere. Thankfully everyone was cool about it and helped me blot at the carpet, but how embarrassing! My butt apparently has a mind of its own – thank god it doesn’t have its own zip code. (Just a few days later my butt took down a plate of grilled cheese. I guess my butt is striking back for being sat upon all these years.)

Top the Tater

After the BBQ, I had a strange craving… for TOP THE TATER! You folks in the Midwest might know what this is – a sour cream dip filled with chives and other herbal seasonings. My cousin Sarah bought some once with Old Dutch potato chips (locally made in Minnesota) and I was hooked by the salty, creamy combination. I figured… when in Minnesota, do as the Minnesotans do – so I splurged at 11 pm (come on now, only 9 pm Cali time) and bought some Old Dutch and Top the Tater to eat in solitary bliss in my hotel room. Yeah, yeah – bad weight loss blogger (HONEST weight loss blogger!).

A classic photo I found in my Grandma's album - hopefully this is the ONLY topless picture of me on the internet!

The next day we spent at my Grandma’s house catching up, looking at old photos and helping her with some household stuff – I learned how to properly wash windows. Did you know that the correct way to wash windows is to wipe downwards on one side, and then wipe horizontally on the other? No streaks! We relaxed over lunch and told old stories – and then we were back in the car with my dad, heading to Chicago to see my cousin Becky get married! Come back Monday to read about her awesome and unusual midnight wedding snack!

Midwestern Magic, Part 1

Wisconsin Dells in October

Matt and I began our trip by flying into Chicago… and then renting a car and driving four hours away. DOH! Here’s why. My grandmother and lots of other family members live in Minnesota. Airfare was considerably higher to fly into St. Paul, for some reason, than it was to fly into Chicago. So – we rented a sexy Nissan Sentra and hightailed it to the Wisconsin Dells (halfway to my grandmother’s house in MN), where we spent the night in a seedy Super 8 and then woke up to to do some tourist stuff – including nomming on delicious Dunkin’ Donuts!

I touched the rocks as we squeezed by!

First up: An Original Wisconsin Dells Duck tour! Ducks are amphibious vehicles used in World War 2 – they’re half boat, and half truck, so they can journey on land or in water. We started our tour by splashing into the Wisconsin River – marveling at the changing leaves and awesome rock formations. The duck crawled out of the water and into the woods – through narrow rock crevices and trees like these. The tour guide was a sarcastic college student no doubt used to pleasing the more elderly of the group, so he had a good time ribbing me about my “Elton John Sunglasses” and why Matt and I weren’t hard at work unlike all the retired folks on his boat. It was fun!

Moo-ve over Wisconsin, we're comin' thru!

After our duck boat tour, we were on our way to Minnesota – but not without a stop at the “cheese factory”. Proving once again that my career in marketing communications has no effect on whether or not I fall for traditional marketing tactics, I told Matt we HAD to stop at the advertised “cheese factory” off the highway. Cheese Factory? More like tiny cheese store with no aforementioned factory and lots of cheesy (har har) tourist tsotchkes. There was, however, a chance for me to fulfill a life long dream of posing for a photo with three very mild-mannered Holstein cows. And by mild-mannered, I mean fake – because come on – what sane person  would really sit on a cow?

Bringing the bib back in style - one fried cheese curd at a time.

We picked up a bag of cheese curds for the hell of it and we were off again, with one more stop to make at the Norske Nook to pick up a blueberry pie to bring to the family. Norske Nook is a Norwegian bakery and eatery based in Osseo, WI – a tiny smear of a town with wide roads and beautiful old farm houses. As a little girl, my grandfather would take us to the Norske Nook and my sister and I would press our faces against the glass of the pie display case, oohing and ahhing over the many delicacies that lay before us. We got our giant blueberry crumble pie – and with one last stop at Culver’s for a quick lunch of butter burgers and fried cheese curds, we were off to Minnesota!

Check back on Friday to read all about our time in Minnesota – including tales of my unfortunate diet coke-butt-bump and late night adventures with Top the Tater!

PS: If you enjoy this blog (And I hope you do! If you don’t… well… *tear*) , please “like” it on Facebook at facebook.com/doublechindiary ! Big thanks to all of you that already have!

Post-BBQ Bulge

Helo my lovely bloggies! I hope those of you in the states had a great long weekend, and those of you outside the states had an equally lovely weekend. After 7 hours in the car on the I-5 (flat, devoid of any scenery), I was happy to be home last night at 8 pm. We drove up Friday evening to Petaluma, where Matt and my parents live. (What’s the correct grammar for that? Matt and Mine? Matt and I’s? Our parents? Someone chime in – Amy, I’m lookin’ at you.) Friday was a stressful day at work, and as I had hoped I would not do, I was tired, bitchy and stressed out Friday night so I picked up a $5 Little Caesar’s pizza. That was the first not-so-health-concious choice of the weekend.

The I-5 in all of its flat glory.

Saturday, I had delicious thai food for lunch… and then Saturday night, my in-laws prepared a BBQ feast of artichoke crostini, cheese burgers with bacon and avocado,(so simple, and so yum!) corn on the cob, potato salad, and chili. Dessert was a big old slab of apple pie covered with vanilla ice cream. I didn’t gorge but I definitely ate more than I should have, and regretted it that night as my stomach felt like an over-blown balloon. I’m spoiled to have awesome cooks on both sides of my family – and we’re super lucky that as a married couple, our parents get along and we eat, vacation and hang out together 🙂

Sunday was where the real damage was done! The daytime was fine, as me, Matt, my siblings and their significant others went to Lake Sonoma. Matt and I had Subway sandwiches, BBQ potato chips, and Hornsby Hard Ciders, but it’s hard to pig out when you’re swimming and laying in the sun.

Water Babies in Lake Sonoma

We returned to another BBQ feast at my parent’s house – this time of smoked and brined tri-trip, smoked turkey, potato salad, pasta salad and baked beans. My mom makes incredible potato salad – tossed with sour cream and mayonnaise to make it ultra cool and creamy. A few chopped eggs and lots of crisp celery makes it a total comfort food treat – I definitely had seconds. Dessert was homemade cheesecake (amazing – with a sourcream top, made by my father-in-law, Mike) and creme brulee (delicious, with a crackly sugar top) made by my dad.

My mom's amazing potato salad

 

To add to that, a bottle of Gewurtztraminer was cracked open and my sister had a “Cheese – Off”, in which we all tasted and chose our favorites in a blind taste test of Wisconsin Cheese vs. California Cheese. (I’ll write about that later!)

So, as you can tell, the food choices of the weekend were not “diet friendly”, but they were “family friendly” and I had a great time seeing all my loved ones. My goal is to be back on plan and tracking this week, and try and squeeze in some gym time. I’m already behind on that goal since it’s Tuesday night and I’m doing homework and now I have class the next two nights…but… I’ll catch up. I will, I will. When life gets busy and the food around you is so tempting, how you do stay on track? (At least I swam all the way across the lake on Saturday! That was definitely good cardio!)