Monthly Archives: April 2012

Crushin’ on Brunch

I have always had a love affair with brunch, but it’s hard to act on your feelings when your husband eats smashed cheese sandwiches and Chex Mix every morning. Bring him out to breakfast and he will order three sides of toast and a Diet Coke – only after trying to convince the waitress to make him a cheeseburger. That all changed one fine Easter morning when Neil met his most recent fling – the bottomless mimosa brunch. We made quick plans to throw our own mimosa brunch at home and forever rid him of his breakfast aversion.

To ease Neil into the whole idea, we made sure to stock up on some familiar friends:

So far, so good!

And since he never turns down a well-crafted beverage, we had a fully stocked mimosa bar (classy champagne, eh?).

Yes, this really happened. I am getting excited just thinking about it.

The main players were blackberry and strawberry puree, and of course fresh-squeezed orange juice. Yes, I really did wake up early to puree fruit.

Side note, and project for another day – chalkboard paint can jazz up practically anything.

And then it was time to eat. Neil chose to make banana bread pancakes. Let that soak in for a moment…Not just banana pancakes. Banana bread pancakes.

Do you need a closeup? Good, me too.

While that was a lot to take in, we still had an entire bowl of batter waiting. I made cake batter pancakes that were like…like, waking up and realizing that it’s your birthday but you don’t have to share your birthday cake with anyone.

These were almost as perfect as our first date to Chili’s. Can you hear the angels singing?

This brunch was almost too fancy for my yoga pants and Neil’s Space Mountain t-shirt, but somehow we managed. You guys/you all/y’all seriously need to throw your own mimosa gala, and send us your recipes! You can find the ones we used here and here.

In the past, Neil has never really seen what I see in brunch. But I think it’s safe to say now that he totally has a crush on it.


Pancakes and Mimosas,


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Quick Craft: Wedding Re-purpose

Okay, so when I say “quick” craft I don’t really know if I mean it. Let’s go with relatively quick. I wanted to find a way to re-purpose the bracelets I wore on our wedding day, and turning them into a chunky necklace sounded fun. It was that or watch the Masters with Neil, and crafting always wins that battle.

The good news about this craft is that one trip to Michael’s and some digging around your pink toolbox should set you up with everything you need to turn a special piece of jewelry into something you will wear all the time. Here are the bracelets before:

And after I turned them into a necklace:

I used jewelry thread, which is essentially fishing line, and strung the beads onto three separate pieces and then put about ten beads onto all three strands to bring them together on each side. They sell little tube-like pieces of metal, which you then secure with needle-nosed pliers to keep the tension on the beads and you’ve got yourself a necklace! I am not going into too much detail with this once since I highly doubt any of N+C readers set aside jewelry-making time on Sundays.

And a lesson I learned the hard way: after you meticulously string all of your beads in the exact pattern you want, you should probably tell your husband not to pick up just one end of the threads, lest they end up scattered on the ground. Sore subject.

Happy crafting!



DO IT: Photo Traditions

Welcome to a new recurring category on the N+C Blog where we convince you to adopt our habits, called DO IT. And on this week’s DO IT, we are talking about photo traditions and why you need to start some of your own.

Whether you’re that guy who goes on a week-long vacation and leaves your camera in the hotel room, or that girl that takes 1,500 pictures in one weekend (in front of the Prada store, holding a tropical drink, dressed up in the hotel lobby, at the dinner table with half eaten plates, making a sad face at the airport before leaving), your iPhoto library could absolutely benefit from a few photo traditions. You will never frame that outstretched arm/self portrait picture of you and your significant other, so save yourself some battery life and limit your photo ops.

I first got this idea from my parents, who for as long as I can remember take a kissing picture at every new/cool/unique place that they go. They range from completely awesome…..

Dad and Mom in Japan

to slightly offensive.

Dad grabbing a handful outside the Grand Canyon

Regardless, they can trace their tradition back to the days where my dad had an afro and my mom had nerd glasses (the first time they were cool).

We’ve started some of our own, and one of my favorites is a shot where I become part of the epic Donny and Marie sibling duo in Las Vegas.

Donny, Marie and Caili 2009

Annual Sibling Photo 2010

The Sibling Sensation gets a new look in 2012.

Totally in on the joke - you kill me, Donny!

Here are a few other photo traditions we have, to get your little brains thinking of some that you can start:

  • Us with our winnings ticket from Vegas (Neil’s is usually up $20-$40, and mine is usually up anywhere from 40 cents to $3.00. I play it safe.)

  • On tropical vacations, we always take a piggyback picture which usually makes for some good laughing shots.

  • On Christmas day, we take a picture in front of the Christmas tree to track our growth from year to year.

  • Rather than take the scenic view that everyone is taking, we will take the picture from OUR perspective that was most memorable, like the view up at the palm trees rather than out at the pier and the ocean. It helps us remember what it felt like to be there. You will never forget what the Eiffel Tower looks like, but you might forget what it looked like to be standing in front of it.

Now that you know all there is to know about photo traditions, DO IT!


Love me some Donny and Marie,


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A Dinner That Leaves You Wonton More

I am still trying to figure out why, when most couples order in and cuddle over a movie, Neil and I insist on spending our weekend nights challenging each other to obscure culinary battles. There’s nothing worse than that moment when you wake up on Saturday morning and realized you dirtied every dish in your kitchen the night before and you’re still mad at each other over “unfair judging.” Wow, putting that in writing confirms how weird we are.

Our latest cook-off was wonton themed, with ground turkey and potatoes being our “must use” items. If anyone wants to stop reading right here and guess what Neil chose to do, I will write you a check for fifty dollars and we can all call it a day.

My first won ton was Thai Turkey Basil with hoisin. It was basically ground turkey, red pepper, garlic, thai peppers and hoisin in a pan to taste. Add a lot of basil at the end and serve over rice, in lettuce wraps, or in this case wrapped in starch and fried. ; ) Wink!

My potato dish was, as the California girls like to say, SUPER BOMB. Potatoes, green pepper, sour cream, garlic and shredded cheese all wrapped up in what? Starch. And then pan fried. Bomb! We actually enjoyed my submissions a little too much; the second half of our chef battle had to be put off until the next day because we overindulged. That’s a good problem to have in my book.

And now on to Neil. He decided to go against everything he has ever done in past battles and make, wait. What? EXACTLY THE SAME THING. He’s lucky it was delicious. His favorite burger was turned into a wonton and served with some of the best homemade fries I have ever had.

Word on the streets is that he got the recipe from a Bobby Flay Burgers & Fries book. I think Neil sleeps with that book at night.

Neil’s turkey burger wontons had shredded cheese and crispy onions inside, and were served with not one but two kinds of barbecue sauce. My kind of guy!

I am beginning to wonder if you are starting to put us in the same mental category as Paula Deen. I PROMISE to (try to) put some healthy recipes up here soon. Or maybe post about anything but food for a little while.


Love and wontons,


Compounding the Deliciousness

“Don’t compound the problem,” some people say. “It looks like a compound fracture,” your doctor says, taking a drag from his cigarette. “Let’s, uh, drive the cah down to the, uh, Hyannisport Compound this weekend, Jackie,” JFK would always tell his wife. But I turns out the best use of “compound” is: “Here, taste this compound butter.”

I first learned about compound butter from my know-it-all brother Eric, who once answered so many rhetorical questions correctly at a cooking class that the teacher finally asked him, “Are you a chef, or WHAT?” Compound butter is essentially butter infused with flavors–and as you’d guess, it makes everything taste amazing. Like famous Canadian Tom Green once said, “It’s better with butter.”

So armed with this knowledge, we recently topped off some steaks with a compound butter infused with garlic and green onions. You gotta try it.

1. Chop up some green onions and garlic (or whatever flavors you want) and add to a bowl with half a stick of butter.

2. Once it’s all mixed together, put the mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll the plastic wrap until you have a tube of butter. Then grab both ends and spin it around til it’s wrapped tightly.

3. Tightly tie off both ends of the plastic wrap and then set it on the counter so your wife can take a photo of it. (The photo part is optional.)

4. Put the butter in the freezer for a few minutes so it hardens–the goal is to get it back to a consistency where you can slice it.

5. Once your steak is ready, cut the plastic wrap off of one end and slice some perfect discs of compound butter to place on top.

There it is. So easy a Neil can do it. Now you know one more way to use the word “compound,” you’ve learned a great new cooking trick, and you’ve thought about Tom Green for the first time in at least 10 years. What a night.

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