Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On My Messy Purse & Sewing with a Zipper

My life is a mess.  I don't mean figuratively.  Literally, I'm a mess.  Jesse is constantly picking up after me.  I'm just messy and always have been.  I try to fight it, but I'm just not naturally a neat & tidy & organized person.  And at the center of my chaos is my trusty (& battered) Longchamp purse.  At any given time, it's full of pens, notebooks, hairbands, business cards, lip gloss, & and at least one pair of sunglasses.  I just inventoried now for the sake of this blog post and found two empty water bottles, one glove, three Kind bar wrappers, two bracelets, a ticket to a whale watch, & the menu from brunch at Huckleberry.  Among many, many other things.

The point is, I'm realizing I need to actively work on my organization.  It makes me crazy when I can't find something I need in there (like my AmEx card, tossed in the bag haphazardly, or a pen when I know there are five in there... somewhere).  The first thing I need to do is toss all of the extra paper and trash.  That part is tedious and isn't any fun.  The second thing I need to do is wrangle my day-to-day items.  And since I am trying to teach myself to sew, I figured I'd make a sturdy little bag within my purse to keep the things I need but can't always find in the handbag hodgepodge.

I was inspired by this blog project, which I've had pinned on Pinterest for ages, but also wanted to sew in a coordinated color lining.  I figured I'd make a little bag that I could keep my makeup, Chapstick, & sunglasses in.  It was my first project with a zipper.  It turned out pretty sweet.

I started with laminated cotton & a matching fabric from Z Fabrics, plus a zipper, scissors, & straight pins.  And my sewing machine, though you could totally sew this by hand.

I trimmed down my fabrics to the size I needed for the bag...

...and pinned them to one side of my zipper.  First I pinned on the lining fabric...

Then I flipped it over and pinned on the laminated cotton:

I turned on my sewing machine (a Brother cs6000i, for those interested) and stitched the zipper & fabrics together.  Then I repeated the entire process with the other side of the zipper...

Then, with the fabric facing inside out, I sewed the other three sides of the bag closed, flipped it inside out and voila:

I'm pretty obsessed with it.  I love the colored dots on the inside and I think the bikes are so funky.  Here's to getting organized, tackling a Pinterest project, & staying homey!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Wine & Dine Themed Wedding Shower

So we've never hosted a wedding shower before and I have to say - it was a lot of fun.  Charlie and I offered to throw my friend Lauren and her husband to be, Zan, a Wine & Dine Wedding Shower for their crew in Chicago.  Emphasis on the wine portion of the evening.

Here is a picture of part of the spread.  I wanted to do small bites so people could talk and mingle and enjoy their beverage of choice.

So maybe I took this cutting board a little too literally but I thought it was just perfect for the charcuterie platter.  I piled on some prosciutto, sliced big chunks of pepperoni, and also served peppered salami.  I found all of theses goodies at the grocery store.

Nothing goes better with wine than cheese.  I went to our local wine depot where they have a beautiful cheese selection.  I told them what wine I was serving and they helped me pick some killer cheeses.  I wanted two semi soft and two soft so I ended up with these:  Cabra Barracha (Spanish), Delice De Bourgogne (French), Tallegio (Italian), and a Sheeps Milk Gouda (Dutch).

Heart toothpicks.  Yay.

So I remember the first time Lauren told me about ham salad.  I was horrified, that is, until I made it for her birthday a couple of years ago.  It's SO good.  I'll post the recipe soon.

These little bites of love are wild mushroom ragu cups, finished with black truffle oil and truffle salt.

These are the brie, sour cherry preserve, and fresh thyme puff pastry bites.  I posted this recipe awhile back.

I stole this idea from my mother in law.  It's difficult eating a salad when it's more of a cocktail party, so why not turn caprese salad into a fork and plate free dish by threading them on a stick?  Check out this link for more details.

Because the shower started at 5pm, I thought it was important to offer some warm items as well.  On the left, cheese and crab stuffed mushrooms, and on the right, chicken and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon.  Yum.

To break it up a bit, we served a veggie platter with homemade blue cheese dressing.


Decorating for a couples shower was more difficult than I thought.  I decided to just make our condo look warm and inviting with candles and fresh flower arrangements in a fairly gender neutral color pallet. 

 Here is a picture of the bar - we were sure to include plenty of options so people could help themselves.  We ran out of booze.  I don't know how that's possible but that's ALWAYS a sign of a good party. 

 We wanted guests to feel pampered upon entering our condo so we served each of them champagne with fresh red raspberries.  These went quick. 

 I'm so obsessed with their invitations that I had to feature them somehow, so I propped it up on a lamp stand and highlighted it with a candle and a couple of giant pearls and bling. 

I made about 5 arrangements total - all different sizes.  This was just eucalyptus and ivory mikado roses.  Fresh flowers and some candles go a long way and can be a cost effective way to make your home warm and welcoming for a special occasion. 

It's sort of difficult to see in this picture, but we hung white paper garlands diagonally from the ceiling to emphasize the warm, romantic feel. For a pop of color, we hung some bright lanterns above the window. 

Thank the lord someone brought dessert. And this wasn't just any dessert, they were the most delicious, amazing macaroons filled with vanilla bean butter cream.  HOLY COW.  I'll get the recipe, don't fret my pets. 

Lauren's BFF from home served Cafe Patron in chocolate shot glasses with the macaroons.  We tried to coordinate the shot taking with the 20 people that were here, but it didn't go well.  It was late.  We had been drinking. 

Here's a close up. I didn't have any mint, so I just used some fresh basil as a garnish. 

The bride and groom received some amazing gifts, one of which were napkins.  They decided they would try it on as clothing instead...see what I'm saying?  Fun shower.  Congrats Lauren & Zan - getting more and more excited for the big day.  Stay in love and stay hungry! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Five Days in Paradise...

I just got back from a quick (& wonderful) trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas.  My clever husband won a very prestigious award for his company and so they whisked us down there, along with the other worldwide winners.

We stayed at the Atlantis and it was just great.  Pool after pool, all different and HUGE and beautifully maintained.

Our hotel room was a suite (twice the size of our Brooklyn apartment!), with two bathrooms, a separate living room, a full kitchen, washing machine, & a huge porch.  Photos don't do it justice...

The resort also has a huge water park right in the center.  I didn't take my camera on our waterslide rides (sorry, no shots of me screaming & splashing), but the massive water park area was super fun.  I had to fight my inner wimp, but we rode all of Atlantis' waterslides and spent most afternoons floating through rapids on an inner tube.

The resort was full last week but it didn't feel overcrowded at all.  We rarely had to wait in line and there were more than enough lounge chairs to go around.  The service was impeccable - I was beyond impressed with the Atlantis staff.

And, since of course Jaisa asked about the food, it was pretty good.  The Mesa Grill (Bobby Flay) was underwhelming, but I found the rest of the food delicious & well thought out (if overpriced).  There was vegetarian food aplenty, but the seafood was the real star - Jesse was able to have different local fish every night.

While we spent a lot of time at the pools & waterpark, we also spent a good chunk of each day on the pristine beaches.  The turquoise water was absolutely perfect.  

And, as with most of my vacations, by the last day I was just a little bit sunburned, finished with the novels I brought to read, and almost out of SPF 45.  I was ready to get home and see Fred.  Ready to tackle my inbox.  Maybe even ready for one more snowstorm.

In short - I loved Atlantis.  We're not usually fans of resorts, but this one (arguably the king of all beach resorts) delivered.  It's crazy what five days of sun & sand can do... I'm feeling totally relaxed and ready to face the week!

Manhattan Beach Cookie Sandwiches

It's been a week+ since my trip to LA (and I have another quick adventure to tell you about that's happened since...) but I wanted to share with you, on this Monday morning, pictures of delicious ice cream cookie sandwiches that Jenny & I bought at the Manhattan Beach Creamery.

There were a bunch of different flavors but here are two shots of the ones we ate:

Macadamia & White Chocolate Chip...

...and chocolate chip cookie, dipped in milk chocolate...

Also eaten, but not pictured, was a tasty cookies & cream ice cream sandwich. I'm already thinking of ways I can make these for a party this summer. My favorite cookie recipe, plus some ice cream from the local creamery... heavenly summer desert.

Counting the days til Memorial Day weekend... or weather over 60 degrees...or maybe just until I have some time to bake cookies again. Stay hungry!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stanley's Kitchen and Tap Chicago

Enjoying a delicious southern style brunch with some lovely ladies. Also enjoying a bloody Mary the size of my head. Yes. Stay hungry!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hip, On The House: Max & Magnolia WINNER

This giveaway is now CLOSED!  

Ali Yarb, you are the winner!  Please contact us about getting your prize!

For everyone else, hit up Max and Magnolia for info on getting yourself a cute State Pride onesie.  Thanks again to Rebecca!


We're excited to kick off the weekend with a giveaway from the cutest Etsy shop ever, Max and Magnolia.  I came across Rebecca's shop when searching for a baby shower gift back in November and she's kind enough to share one of her adorable State Pride onesies with one of our lucky readers....

The State Pride onesies are simple - you tell Rebecca which city & state you'd like, and the color & size.  I think these are pretty much the perfect baby shower gift... one-of-a-kind and colorful and soooo stinking adorable. 

Rebecca is kindly sharing one State Pride onesie with a Hardly Housewives winner (a 0-3 month size in either green, pink, light gray, orange, white or brown. Winner can choose the state, city for the "heart" & either white or black stencil)   There are four (OMG) ways to win...

1) First, go look through Max and Magnolia and leave a comment below with your favorite item... would you go with your favorite state & city?  Or with one of her applique products?  How about those owls?

2) If you want another chance to win, be sure to "like" Hardly Housewives on Facebook here and leave another comment letting us know that you did (or if you already have)

3) ...and while you're on Facebook, be sure to "like" Max and Magnolia's Facebook page here (and comment that you did)

4) Finally, for one last chance, join the Hardly Housewives follower community - either subscribe to Hardly Housewives (info on the right sidebar of our blog) or become a follower ("Join this Site", below) OR do both and comment.

Giveaway will end NEXT Friday morning.  We will pick one winner and the prize will ship to the US only.

Thanks to Rebecca from Max & Magnolia.  Happy Friday & stay hip!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Farm Grill & Rotisserie Newton, MA

One of our favorite things about flying back to the East Coast is hitting up all of our old favorite spots.  We spent the morning driving around, checking out our old apartments in Brighton, MA, reminiscing about how poor we were right out of college.   I loved it.  

I've told you about Border Cafe and today I'll tell you about Farm Grill & Rotisserie.  After my other favorite Middle Eastern restaurant closed, we had to find a replacement.  Enter: this place.  

Since Caitlin was heading up to Maine for her first baby shower, we coordinated a quick lunch before we headed to the Cape.  It was so fun seeing her, even if it was for only thirty minutes or so.  This was the hummus.  I took a pic right before I dumped olive oil on top of it.  Yum.  Creamy and delicious.


This is what Charlie and I both ordered.  We rarely order the same thing so we can share a few different items but there was no way in HELL we would be sharing this. This is the Chicken Caesar Gyro Wrap.

Amen child.

They grill the pillowy soft pita so it's nice and toasty and then they fill it with the most amazing garlicky, crispy, salty, amazing chicken I have ever had.  Ever.  IT'S SO GOOD.  Charlie ate half of his.  I ate all of mine.  Something is wrong with me.  This was at least the size of my head.

The creamy Caesar dressing has just the right amount of acidity to balance the richness of the chicken.  HOT DAMN I love food.  Stay hungry!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Staying Homey in Portland, Maine

For the amount that I gush about Vacationland, you'd think I was the Mainer, not Jaisa.  I was up in Portland last weekend and my friend & hostess Bridget was kind enough to take me on a tour of some funky shops in the city.

We started at Z Fabrics.  They're moving in a few weeks to a bigger space, but their small shop is filled to the brim with unique fabrics.  Here's a shot of a few of their laminated cotton options.  I grabbed a yard of the bicycle fabric and I'll be making a makeup bag next week.  

Then we headed down to Blanche & Mimi on Middle Street.  There was an eclectic mix of decor items, kitchen stuff, & baby gifts...

From there, we headed to the water and stumbled into a new card store on the corner of Market & Commercial...

I grabbed a "Goodnight Moon" card for Saturday's baby shower, a 90th birthday card for my grandmother-in-law, and this little guy...

There was a great mix of cards (reasonably priced!) and I think this is my new go-to Maine card shop.

Finally, we stopped into LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street.  I was in love immediately.  Maine-made pepper grinders in all of my favorite colors...

...a killer Le Creuset collection...

...and all types of colorful dishes.

I bought only a huge cutting board.  It's seriously a miracle I made it out of there without some serious damage.

When you're in the Forest City, be sure to factor some time in for shopping and stay homey!