Saturday, June 28, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

Today is a scorcher here in Connecticut. Trevor and I saw Wall-E today at the movies and it was really sweet. I'm sure I'm not the first one to gush over Pixar movies being really good but...it was great and if you can manage to pull together some dough for really overpriced movie tickets it's well worth your time. Even though there is minimal dialogue the story is actually quite strong and heartwarming.

Even though I have annoying moaned and groaned about the fact that I'm done with invitations I have only just finished doing my last wave of invitations since my mom's been bugging me about a few more. I hate it when a few more becomes a few more on top of that becomes...30 more. But I'm pretty much out of invitations anyway so even if some obscure family members make their way out of the woodwork, I'm sorry to say that the good invites have already been sent out.

Liza's sent out the shower invites already. Since I very literally have like 4 female friends that I consider near and dear to my heart I didn't invite very many people. The shower is really Liza's event so I figure she can take the reigns and invite whomever she feels is appropriate to invite. I've been warned I will probably not know many people there. lol But it should still be very entertaining. Ultimately I didn't want to invite every single female person I invited to the wedding anyway because I didn't want to come off like one of those girls who just want to shake out presents out of everyone. The fact is that I want to share this special time in my life with people are just as excited about it as I am. I don't want to drag people who don't really know me and who don't really care to an event just because they'll bring a present.

Of course presents are nice, but as nice as they are the key is getting a present that you honestly think the recipient will like and I can only imagine the difficulty with getting a present for someone you hardly know. The fact is that I can buy my own cookie cutters and my own blender. If I weren't getting married I could buy a ton of quality kitchen tools, towels and sheets.

And trust me that I would. I really love kitchen tools. I'm pretty in love with my Kitchenaid Mini Food Prep processor (that my mom bought me) and no-name over sized non-stick chef's pan that I use for practically everything. I hate pans that are too small. They almost always overflow or bubble over and when I decide I want to add a bunch of random ingredients there isn't room for them. lol

I rarely cook anything by the book unless I'm unfamiliar with it and I want to see what the "right" way to prepare it is. There's really no right and wrong with cooking which is what I ultimately like best about it. When I think about it I haven't posted a recipe on here in a really long time. It's not that I don't cook but I cook so haphazardly that it'd take much longer to explain my madness than it does to actually just do it. But since Trevor was so fond of it I figure I'd share my recipe for Mexican Lasagna that came as a result of wanting to use of burrito ingredients.

Mexican Lasagna
Burrito sized flour tortillas, at least 6
1 can of refried beans
1 jar of salsa (I prefer to add more hot sauce to mine to make it extra Hot)
1 8oz bag of shredded cheese
1lb of ground beef
taco seasonings to taste
Sour Cream
(Diced Tomatoes, Onion, olives...etc. add things you like)
8" round cake, spring form or pie pan

Your burrito should fit pretty well in your pan. If you're like me and get your grubby little hands on 12" wide tortillas then you'll need to trim them down but I actually liked that they were too big. It had a very pretty fluttery edge that overflowed over the edge of the pan like a pretty flower.

Anyway preheat your oven. I like 350 on my oven. Saute up your ground beef. Drain the grease and add your seasonings to taste. I use less than one envelope because it tends to be very salty. Then it's simply a matter of layering the things you like. I did 2 layers of tortilla, beef, salsa, cheese and refried beans. I had a lot of tortillas to use before they got old so I was very generous. I also think it helped to keep things from being too mushy. I used a pie plate and could fit four layers in there. Put it in the oven until things are well heated through and the cheese is bubbly. When you cut into it you see all the pretty layers, just like a lasagna.

I topped with sour cream, shredded lettuce and dice tomatoes with extra hot salsa on the side. Olives, sliced jalapeƱos and diced onion would have been really good too. I love spicy anything so it was a nice and really easy meal. It honestly took no time to throw together and even though there's cheese in it it's also pretty easy to sneak lots of veggies into. You can also use ground turkey in lieu of beef and low fat cheese and sour cream. It's pretty easy to make it more healthy. And you can just cut out the meat all together; the refried beans give it plenty of bulk and will certainly fill you up.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

David Glass Cakes

Whoa...I've seen more of my friend Amanda this past week than I have in the past year. We had dinner on Tuesday and went cake testing today.

Nothing too extraordinary about a dinner of nachos and escargot (well, at least not to us) but I took a belated lunch break and went to have some cake with Amanda at David Glass.

Now, perhaps I'm out of the cake eating loop since I so often make my own but apparently this David Glass dude is a really big deal in the cake world. I'll say this; it's very yummy. I'm fond of his mousse cake and chocolate covered almond cake having had some at Bamboo Garden this past Chinese New Year but haven't partaken of much else until today. Apparently they open up the factory (it essentially is just that; it's located in nowheresville in the middle of an industrial park) and have a small table of cakes out for you to circle and try slices of. I had at least 4 slices of various cheesecakes and I must say that I was totally stuffed even though I took very small slices.

They sell his cakes at fancy places like Whole Foods. I don't know if I'm so addicted that I'd pay full price for one since some of them are super rich but I won't lie, it's very good and probably ridiculously unhealthy. I bought an small 6" almond cake but Amanda insisted they had more exotic flavors in the past like red bean. I'll have to duck out for a cake lunch some other week and cross my fingers for some new flavors. I loved the mousse cakes though; something about how light they are makes me feel less guilty about them over the cheesecakes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I quit...invitations that is

I am sorry if you do not receive an invitation. I am also not sorry that I did not have to send out 80 million invitations.

Is the art of replying that hard? I've already got two replies that are not done correctly. I would be more upset except I'm just going to give them to my mom so she can call these folks because none of them are people I really know. If you are not coming, please still indicate your name...believe it or not, I am not a mind reader.

By the way, this is not going to be a particularly kid friendly event so it's best to leave the kiddies at home. Sorry, kiddies.

I needed to get that out. I'm surprised at how angry invitations can make a person. I am straight up aggravated...at...everything. This coming from a usually very level-headed chick.

Liza has also apparently started working on shower invites. The shower is located in MA so that puts a bit of a damper on the CT folks but a lot of Trevor's family is located in MA so it's convenient for many of them. I might end up trying to rally up local people so we can carpool. My mother has already dictated to me that I'll be driving her there so what's a few more bodies in the car?

Speaking of car, I'm so tired of being in one. This weekend we went to the Cape. We went to the Cape constantly in the beginning of our relationship but in retrospect I'm not sure how we managed it. lol I must be getting old because I'm totally worn out by the ride and road rage and traffic that caused the road rage...etc. It's fun to see everyone, as it always is but it'd be much better if we could teleport. I'm not complaining by any means because I know going to the Cape is a luxury considering there are many people who are squeezing their pennies to make ends meet and fill up their gas tanks just to go to work but it's pretty painful for me being in a car for long stretches. Plus I can't even use the time to catch up on something innocent like reading a book because it makes me sick to my stomach.

However, Strawberryfest at Trevor's-Cousin-Alex's-Girlfriend-Maggie's-mom's church was fun. I hulled more strawberries than I've ever seen but thankfully I find food preparation to be a zen like activity. Weird, huh? I just think there's something innately peaceful about something productive but thoughtless that keeps my hands busy and empties my mind from the thoughts that often crowd it up about the wedding, feeling guilty about not calling my mom, or not doing a chore at home...etc. Thoughts like that will eventually wear you down if you let them. Apart from a sore neck from sitting in an apparently less than idea ergonomic position for a few hours it was nice. The weather was beautiful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Invitations are done!

Invitations...are...ready!

I'd be lying if I told you I didn't spend all weekend working off and on this project. It takes time to label things (even if you have an admittedly very amended guest list) everything still needs to be clearly labeled, stamped and sealed. I think the task would have been ever so slightly easier if I were literate in Vietnamese but thankfully Dad and I sat down for a few hours so he could check my work.

I even got my first reply back from my cousin Lien, who actually had her invitation hand delivered by my parents.

Oh, and I got a free Cuisinart branded cookbook in the mail, apparently as a thank you gift/bribe for registering for Cuisinart stuff. It's kind of weird to be receiving gifts for essentially making a list of gifts but I certainly won't feel too sad about it. After all, you should never look a gift horse in the mouth. Has anyone else gotten random mailed free gifts? No one told me this is normal practice. I was only really expecting to receive gifts from people whom are invited to the wedding.

We had a meeting with the DJ. I wish we came better prepared but overall we have the gist of most of the songs that will be played at the major intervals during the wedding. It's a big decision. If you play sad, make you want to cry music, I'm sure it's meaningful but it's a huge downer and no one really wants to dance to it. If you play really popular music you also run the risk of alienating older guests who don't like rappers cussing in every other word. Generally acceptable, fun, non-offensive music doesn't just pick itself.

I won't lie and say I have really awesome taste in music. I'm kind of trapped in the late 90's early 00's alternative, electronic and r&b music of my high school and college years. I think you always have fond memories of the music that played during your youth.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Windsor-ite Reunion

I've started the arduous task of addressing invitations. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that my parents keep on adding people from far away and then a number of people are getting them hand delivered if I see them very regularly. So I have a number of piles in various states of completion.

One day I'll be done, but I'll need help from my dad with addressing all the various Vietnamese ones. Because I understand American invitations should have full spellings like Street instead of St. and Road instead of Rd. and you indicate the number of guests by very specifically addressing them by name. "Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Abernathy" versus "The Abernathy Family" if you want to include kids. However, there are many complicated ways of addressing your elders in Vietnamese, plus add in the fact that I'm illiterate in Vietnamese and it can be very baffling because I don't want to disrespect anyone by calling them "Ba" instead if "Di." I have a pretty hard and fast idea of who I do want to invite though.

We're cold hearted list cutting pair right now. lol Trevor jokingly tells people that he's cut his Grandpa George from the guest list, but in reality we couldn't invite him even if we wanted to because of his Alzheimer's. It would be much too difficult to look after him and make sure he was comfortable if he was pulled out of his familiar environment and it could potentially cause him great distress. Which is also why he wasn't at Susan & Sean's wedding though I'm told they very much wanted him to be there.

I also recently got the opportunity to hang with Jeff and a number of other folks I graduated from high school with. That is not to say I don't see a number of these people regularly anyhow. I saw most of these same people at Mikey's 3rd Birthday party and then again on Shaun's birthday but I mostly got to see Jeff whom I haven't seen in at least 2-3 years. We're bad friends, huh? It's not even like he's far away in California like Nini is, and even I see her once or twice a year around holidays. (Jeff is living in RI.)

We hung out at Kim's for a bit and had dinner and talked. Nothing too amazing but it was fantastic to catch up and joke around...to be totally lame and cliche it was like the good old days again except we all now had our licenses (ahem, LisaB) and jobs. Not too much other than that had changed though. Tracy was still trying to hook Kim up with some guys. Lisa was still Lisa although I suppose she's ever so slightly less sweet and innocent than she was in her younger years. Ryan A. was still really ridiculously loud (indoor voice!) and self-centered constantly talking about himself and his job and his this and his that...blah blah blah. If he wasn't so loud I'd really have rather just ignored him. Coran was late and had quite a fashionable entrance. Jeff, Trevor and I seemingly had our own corner of conversation apart from the table...the more things change the more they stay the same.

We took a few pictures that night but I have to say I looked pretty ridiculous in most of them and not in a funny ha-ha way in so much as a "boy I should have covered those bags under my eyes" way. lol I was sick but I really still wanted to be there so I took a nap beforehand for at least 2 hours after lunch. I was so out of it but what little energy I had I wanted to conserve for the evening because I didn't want to be a total grump plus it was like 95 degrees outside and it was hard enough finding the energy to move. I was pretty done by 11pm though, my poor voice was gone.

Today was much more chill; I wandered around the mall with my parents for a bit wondering if I should spend money. I'm so sick of spending money but it was nice to see them and chit chat for a bit. Trevor grilled some dinner up and here we are.

We have an appointment with our DJ Tuesday. I guess to shake out more details for him about song choices and the overall order of our reception so that'll be fun. There's always something wedding related to do all the time now.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wedding Band...check!

3 months left...as of yesterday until our wedding day.

And yesterday was actually a fantastic day for getting wedding things done. I'm actually really happy it was a little overcast and rainy because otherwise nothing would ever get done.

We bought my wedding band. We love Gem Jewelry. They're so nice and unsheisty. I feel like they actually know what they're talking about in lieu of just being forced through high pressure sales pitches. Trevor loves them too so even as of last year we really wanted to buy my band from them. Unfortunately as of last year they didn't have a band that would sit flush against my engagement ring so we discussed the option of a custom band that would be bent to fit but I decided against starting that whole process because I hate the thought of buying something I can't use for a year. That money would be better used gaining interest in my savings account for a year and working positively toward my cash flow. Trevor agreed that was the most pragmatic approach and we've waited.

I don't agree with the entire economic theory to it, but ever since I've received my $600 stimulus money I've thought "okay let's buy the darned ring and get it over with and use this money to make it slightly less painful." Technically it's my money I would have received come next year anyway but the fact it's here now feels like a small windfall. So I've been eyeing bands for the better part of a month and finally got Trevor interested in coming with me because I wouldn't feel right making this kind of decision on my own. I had browsed a number of rings with my mother at the mall but none of them were "it". It would just happen that Gem Jewelry now has a number of curved wedding bands. Last year they had zero, and I tried on at least 4 while I was there just yesterday. Apparently I came in at the right time for a new trend in wedding bands. And the very first ring I tried on was the one we walked out of the store with that day. No sizing, no bending, no waiting, no long drawn out custom designing process, no ridiculous payment plan or credit card application...all shopping should be that easy. Considering how nothing fit, nothing looked right, nothing was the right size I really could not be happier.

I also had my very first dress fitting at a tiny, tiny little tailor near the bridal boutique I got my wedding gown from. The shop itself was tiny; my fitting was clear for all in the parking lot to see because of the glass window in the shop front but it was such a non-busy non-crowded plaza only one lady came in the whole time I was there. Not like there was anything to see except my getting pinned a lot. I was in and out within 30 minutes. Not too shabby. That poor dress has to be taken in a ton. It was like 3 inches on each side and another 2 inches off the hem. At least it fits though. Or, that is to say it will fit come August.

As a refresher, I obtained my wedding gown quite some time ago; almost a year because Kim dragged me out wedding gown shopping very shortly after my engagement. I thought we were just playing around but I happened to find a very ideal dress for me and upon asking the very nice young lady assisting me (at Bancroft Bridal in Agawam MA) how much that particular dress was running, I snatched it up because it was not only on sale but it was also the last of it's kind and I didn't want anyone else taking it. In fact, as I was paying for it another lady in the store was eyeing my dress bag and saying that she was looking for a dress just like mine. I could have bought a different, more expensive dress, but I would have also had to have asked to them pluck out all that annoying crystal stuff they had on it.