Tuesday, August 16, 2011

As Seen On {A Blissful Nest}

Rebekah from A Blissful Nest featured the Shabby Chic 1st Birthday Tea Party today! Hop on over to check out Rebekah's fabulous parties and styled shoots (featured on Amy Atlas, Hostess with the Mostess, Kara's Party Ideas and more!), her etsy shop for party printables, and her passion for interior design.   

I first came across A Blissful Nest from Rebekah's tissue paper wreath tutorial when gathering ideas for Mia’s Winter Onederland party.  Then last week at BlogHer, I had the pleasure of talking to Rebekah face to face about party planning, interior design, blogger versus wordpress, taking on way too much in addition to your day job, and quitting that job to do what you really love. *ahh* someday....There was also a flash mob that took place while we were talking during lunch! Check back on Thursday to hear how Rebekah and I got to talking in the first place (aka I’m a creeper/stalker).
Sommer, you really created a party more beautiful than I could've imagined, congrats!
Thank you so much for the feature Rebekah!

Monday, August 15, 2011

BlogHer’11 - How I Got There

Now that I’ve slept at 9pm instead of doing anything else most of last week, I am ready to give you my BlogHer’11 recap. And I’m going to drag it out and make it a week long affair because there is just too much for one post!

I already expressed my love for Paper Culture here and here. And now I have an even bigger reason to love them! One week before the conference, Paper Culture posted on their FB page saying that they were:

“...giving away a FREE Full Conference badge to BlogHer ($300 value) for next week in San Diego. Just give us a link to your blog and tell us why you think we should choose you for the ticket.

Of course I entered! I enter giveaways practically every day and never win. But I always tell myself, “I’m bound to win some time!” However, I must have overlooked minor details such as SAN DIEGO and NEXT WEEK.

A few days later I received an email titled “YOU WON.”  I thought, “hmm must be spam.” (not remembering what give aways I recently entered). I continued to read the preview, and it was from Paper Culture’s CEO. WHAT?! I WON something?!?! I never win  giveaways! My heart raced with excitement!! Then I thought, “Wait a minute, where is the conference? ...When is it? I'll have to take off work. I'll miss Ryu and Kira's 1/2 birthday party. And Aiden's Baptism…How much are flights?!?...Hotels?!... Sh*t, what do I do?!”

After assessing miles and points and deciding that this would be an amazing opportunity I could not pass up (The CEO of Pepsi was speaking! The Pioneer Woman was speaking! I could network with over 3,500 other bloggers and get my name out there! I’m never going to do this again!), I made arrangements to be in San Diego four days later. I loved Paper Culture months ago, and now I ♥ them even more!!

Many of you asked what I said when I entered...“Because the best way for the blogging community to grow and learn is to come together, support and teach one another! I love all the creativity out there and hope that my blog inspires other as well.” Technically I was the second winner. The first winner already had tickets, so Paper Culture picked me instead! J

Friday, August 12, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops with Mango & Nectarine

I’m usually not a recipe maker upper, I'm usually a recipe adapter. But I’ve been bored with my standard pork chop (garlic, fish sauce, Worcestire, cayenne, pepper) with rice. And my mom left a cut mango out. And it didn’t feel like 100 degrees outside. After digging around my produce drawer, pantry, fruit basket, and stash of recipes, here’s what I came up with…
2 Pork Chops
2 TB Red Wine Vinegar
2 TB Orange Juice
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper
1 Mango
1 Nectarine (or peach)
¼ Shallot (or red onion)
2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 tsp Orange Juice
½ Lime
4 Basil leaves
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

  1. Season pork chops with garlic powder, cayenne pepper, S&P.
  2. Mix 2TB red wine vinegar with 2TB orange juice in baking dish. {I accidentally bought pomegranate red wine vinegar.}
  3. Place pork chops in baking dish and marinate.  Flip and marinate some more. {I came up with this recipe that very second and only had about 10 minutes while the grill warmed.}
  4. Grill pork chops (~8 minutes per side for our ¾ inch thick bone in chops). 
  5. Cut one nectarine into thick wedges. Lightly coat with olive oil. Grill for a few minutes on each side.
  6. Cut one mango into thick chunks. Dice ¼ shallot. After nectarine is lightly grilled, slice into thick chunks. I only removed the skin if it was falling off. Place into bowl.
  7. Mix 2 tsp red wine vinegar and 2 tsp orange juice. Pour over fruit.
  8. Slice up basil leaves. Add to fruit.
  9. Squeeze juice of ½ a lime onto fruit. Add S&P, mix!
  10. Add fruit on top of chops, omm omm omm!
Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. This dinner made up for the night before where I hurriedly abandoned my crying baby and hungry husband to make it to the French dinner party J
The charred flavor from the grill was way more satisfying than oil from a skillet. And the red wine vinegar/OJ was so much more interesting than my standard fish sauce preparation. The fruit, basil and light dressing were so refreshing (a jalapeno would’ve been good for some kick).  I always have a zucchini on hand in the summer. Grilled with some olive oil, pepper and sea salt, it can accompany just about any dinner. The rice pilaf was leftover from the night before. Not bad for winging it! We haven’t grilled enough this year...I’m not ready to let summer go! L

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Party Ideas: French Themed Dinner Party

Bonjour mon amis! Last night, Agatha hosted a French themed dinner party inspired by her gypsy travels through Paris.

Here’s what we had on the menu:
v     Wine, Cheese (Bouchon, Mimolette & Ossou Iraty), Prosciutto and Baguettes
v     Mushroom and Gruyere Tart (adapted from epicurious)
v     Coq Au Vin with potatoes
v     Sautéed Haricot verts (aka green beans) and bread crumb coated squash
v     Pains au chocolat with strawberries (probably had one every day while in France, yum!)

We. were. stuffed. Someone (to remain unnamed) even had to change into more comfortable pants. Agatha wanted us to get drunk and have fun the dinner party to be low maintenance and more about the experience. The French inspired playlist, menu and candles accomplished just that. Not bad for a weeknight! I love a night of good food, wine, friends and laughs. Don't you?

To ease the time, effort and cost of hosting this dinner party, set the table the night before and have everyone bring a different dish. If someone (also to remain unnamed) doesn't know how to cook, have them do the dishes! An empty sink is SUCH a relief for a tired and super full hostess. J

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dear Photograph

Danielle introduced me to this cool blog where people submit photos they’ve taken of a “picture of a picture from the past in the present.” Ok that sounds kinda confusing and you probably don’t get it. But it really is simple. And so cool to see!  Grab an old picture…go to the same location it was taken at…and take a new picture of the old picture.

This was an EASY task for me since my parents haven’t moved in 30+ years. And a lot of things haven’t changed. But that's what makes it home ♥ Dear Photograph has gotten a lot of press lately. Just a few weeks ago, I came home to my mom watching abc World News with Diane Sawyer. And she asked if that was what I was doing the other day at her house haha.

I submitted these to Dear Photograph and don’t know if they’ll get published. But I thought it’d be fun for you to see J
Still love this hammock, three generations later...
Mia (above) looks just like mommy (below) huh? J

Even my brother Don (34), his son Ryu (6), and Mia (1) has a picture with this piano...
Many many meals are still enjoyed as a family in this dining room...
I’d love to see your photos of a photo!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Party Ideas: Dinner From Around the World

Happy Monday everyone! Posts have been a little slow around here because I had a long weekend in San Diego attending BlogHer'11! I'll try and round up that trip soon. But it'll be hard since there's so much to tell you!

In the meantime, last week I told you that Seema’s super creative and fun Top Chef Potluck party was featured on a party planning blog. And today I’m here to tell you about another creative dinner party Seema hosted. In case you’re new around here, Seema has also thrown an Easter Egg Decorating Brunch, Girls’ Night Out, and Wine & Cheese party (not featured, but based on my party).

Inspired by my tacos and slaw post, she decided to host a dinner with six friends with a menu from around the world.

Appetizer - Granita (Italy
EntréePulled Pork Tacos with Spicy Slaw alongside Guacamole and Tortilla Chips (Mexico
Dessert - Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars (Argentina
Signature CocktailsFrench 75French 75 jelly shots and Hotecate (US/Mexico - beer with Tabasco, pepper, lime)

The favorites of the night were the granitas and dulce de leche bars. This would be a fun themed dinner party where each person can bring a different course/country. Some décor ideas for a worldly romance themed dinner are:
² Torn maps with burned edges ² Globes ² Twine wrapped candles ²
² Old books ² Doilies ok, lace sounds better ² Vintage post cards ² International envelopes ²

Keep the parties coming Seema! J

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

As Seen On {swanky::chic::fete}

free printable via mom and wife
…momentum…With 1-2-3-4 features on other sites, 1-2-3 babies to photograph, 100 followers, and free passes to BlogHer'11, all just this month…it feels like things are moving along in this first year of blogging for lil mama stuart!

As Agatha put it after hearing a CEO and one of the top “10 Big Thinkers for Big Businesses”:
Sometimes when you’re passionate about a number of things and trying to keep up with your career, plus your passions & side projects, plus your friends & family, it can seem overwhelming. But then again it almost seems like the more you do, the more momentum you gain and the more things fall into place.” 

And that’s exactly how I feel this week (maybe that’s why we’re BFF’s J). Sometimes I feel like I take on too much. And my body and mind are exhausted at the end of the night at 1am. But my mind still races with ideas as I lay in bed. And I still want to do a million things for myself and for others. And I feel like if I don’t take on more and put all that pressure on myself, I won’t get better. I won’t move forward. I won’t be me.

And now PaperCulture has given me the opportunity to step it up. Which led to my last minute making, printing and cutting 200 business cards on my closet floor late at night. And making a pretty business card holder out of duct tape. Tutorial on that another day, I digress...The opportunity to network with 3500+ other bloggers. To hear the CEO of Pepsi talk about exploring inspiration and leadership.  More details on BlogHer next week...If you're going, let me know! I don't want to be all by my lonesome! L In the mean time I’ll just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Aaaanyway, back to the title of this post…Thank you Lili for being my 100th follower and featuring Seema’s Top Chef Potluck Party over at swanky::chic::fete today! And Seema threw yet another fun dinner party last weekend, details to come!

Excuse me for my Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey type post today (SNL anyone??). As always, thanks for reading J

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sprout with Dale from Top Chef

Sunday was a big day of eating for me! First was brunch at Sprout in Lincoln Park. Then a BBQ in the suburbs. Then back to the city to have Chef Jeff cook dinner for me for once! J

Elaine and I have been Facebook friends through MishaMedia101 for over a year now, but had never met! Being Top Chef fans, we thought Dale Levitski’s (Top Chef Season 3) restaurant, Sprout, would be a good spot to finally talk photography face to face. PS - they have a strict NO CHILDREN policy! {photo by Elaine}

In the ten minutes that I waited at the granite topped bar, I had a lot of time to take in the atmosphere. And I saw Dale come out twice to see how things were going on his restaurant floor. And I liked the little porthole in the back where you could see the chefs bustling about.There are about 20 tables with nail head trimmed leather chairs in the contemporary American restaurant. The exposed stone walls lined with greenery below the sun shining in from the skylights and square light fixtures definitely evoke an atmosphere akin to the restaurant’s name. 

After Elaine got a Bloody Mary and I ordered a…ok I have no idea what was in my drink but I told the server I liked sweet…we started with the Lithuanian Bacon Buns because I’ve read so much about them. But I was underwhelmed. L Maybe because I’m Asian and they reminded me of sho paos (If you’re not Asian, think Wow Bao). Elaine had the skirt “steak and eggs” and I had the egg Lyonniase accompanied by frisee, radishes, frites, and pork belly. Like I told you about Big Star (and I haven’t told you about Sunda yet) I never pass up pork belly. Despite the fatty goodness that is pork belly, it was a light and delicious brunch, unlike my typical sweet pancakes/French toast with a side of sausage and potatoes. 
Elaine isn’t shy to ask (I mean, girl wiggled her way to shoot next to the professionals at Bulls and Fire games!)…so she asked if Dale would come out to take a picture with us. And he did J He was not as social/goofy as I thought he’d be! Or he just had a full restaurant to think about rather than small talk with me. He mentioned that they plan on opening another location, but don't know where yet...so keep a look out Chicago foodies! Note: You must make reservations for brunch. 

For dinner, and after spoiling Mia with another stuffed animal, Jeff whipped up shrimp ceviche, skirt steak with a chimichurri sauce with sides of grilled asparagus and potatoes. It was delicious! Read all about his Chicago Eats here.

linked up here:
Sweet Shot Day